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    Razor
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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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
2007 - Fall - The Rainy Day Entry

When I Fall Asleep - 1. When I Fall Asleep

Joey lay on his side sliding between sleep and the waking world. Words were hazy, sounds so far away, comprehension slow. He could feel his heart beating slower, his muscles completely slack, and his lungs moving at a snail’s pace. The state was almost heavenly as images flowed through his mind, half-dreams that teased his imagination.

A crash from the kitchen made him stir, and he was instantly saddened by the loss of his dream realm. The sheets were too warm now, not the soft haven they’d been seconds before. His heart sped back up, and he sighed before he sat up in bed.

Joey could hear yelling from outside his door, somewhere down the hall. It was still dark except for the closet light, but he didn’t know what time it was. He picked up one of the many books littering the foot of his full-size bed and began to read, to pass some of the time before he could sleep again. Minutes later he finished the book and picked up the blue bound one. This wasn’t a children’s book like the others; it was a book of fairy tales and rhymes. It held an archaic allure beneath blue cloth binding that flaked away if he rubbed too hard. The pages were thin and yellowed, and could not be folded for fear of cracking.

He read about dragons, princes, princesses, foolish children, witches, and monsters. There was a pirate who killed all the wives who dared enter the door he instructed them never to open (he kept their decapitated corpses there). A prince asked his pauper wife to never light a candle after dusk, and her curiosity revealed a beast next to her in bed. Joey had learned long ago to not ask questions. These stories just reinforced his stance. Questions were for foolish children who didn’t know enough to conceal their thoughts.

Glancing to the window, he saw that the blinds were lighter white around the edges than before. The sun was coming up; it was too late to sleep more. He set aside the book, and rummaged through his dresser for the new clothes his mother had bought him for school. Today was the first day of first grade, and Joey intended to be ready. Socks covered feet, and he slid on brand new underwear. He picked the shirt that had characters from that Disney movie, The Lion King.

He stepped into the hallway and saw his mother in front of the stove, and smelled food. Every day before school she made a grilled cheese and cut it in half just for him and his older sister. His sister was never awake this early, though, so he walked to give his mother a hug and then sat at the table. Thirty minutes later he was stepping out of the car and into the doors of the school.

He looked around and wondered what he was supposed to do. His mother had told him his teacher’s name. It was the door that had a rocket ship painted around it, he knew that much. Other kids pushed down the hall, and he looked carefully at each door to see which one was his. One was a tree and one a waterfall. Finally, he found the rocket ship and walked inside.

The teacher looked nice, and told him to pick a seat anywhere he liked. Joey took his on the far edge of the room, next to another boy who had darker hair than his own, and was taller. He smiled shyly at the boy as he slipped into the desk that was almost too big for him. The boy who was so much taller looked back and smiled wide. His face was rounded, with smallish features.

“Hey, I’m Aaron. What’s your name?” he said.

“I’m Joey.”

Before the conversation could continue, the teacher announced the beginning of class. She went over the rules, procedures, what to do in case of a fire or tornado, and every other relevant topic. Joey’s attention was at first dutifully focused, but as he listened to her explain, now for the third time, how to evacuate the building, it wandered over to the boy he’d met earlier.

Aaron smiled at him, then crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue while the teacher drew the hallways on the board. Joey couldn’t help but laugh at the silly face the other kid had made. The teacher turned around and gave him a stern look, and Joey looked down and immediately ceased laughing. Seconds later, a tiny piece of paper bounced off the side of his head and when he turned to look, there was Aaron’s face in the same position. He tried valiantly, turning red in the process, but eventually had to laugh.

“Joseph, please be quiet! This is important!” the teacher said. She had a way of placing heavy emphasis on the last word of the sentence which did nothing to make the situation any more solemn. Joey settled down, and ignored the next piece of flying paper. The next he ignored as well and the one after that. Seconds later, though, a pencil smacked his arm and he swerved his head in shock toward his attacker.

There was Aaron with tongue out, eyes crossed, and this time wiggling his ears up and down. Joey had never seen anyone do this before, and his mouth promptly turned upward at the edges and he laughed much harder than both of the times before.

“Joseph, I can see I’ll have to move you since you can’t be quiet. Please switch seats with Lacey on the other side of the room,” the teacher instructed, indicating a tall dark-skinned girl four rows away. He stood and gathered his things quickly, and walked, shamefaced, to the other seat. Joey was almost angry at Aaron for getting him in trouble, and he felt wronged because the teacher got mad at him even though it wasn’t his fault. Someone else made him laugh; he didn’t just do it because he wanted to make her mad. He turned to glare at Aaron, but was overcome once more by the face.

“Joseph! Please!”

 

***

 

“Okay, you can have magic but I wanna be super strong,” Aaron said before he hopped back into the pool. Seconds later his head popped back up and he shook it back and forth to clear the water from his face.

“Alright, and then we gotta go kill the evil guy in the castle,” Joey replied as he treaded water. Aaron had taught him how to swim a bit, but, even now, he was still a bit uncertain about it. Joey had never been in a pool as deep as Aaron’s, and tended to prefer the shallow end at first. In the nine months that had passed since he had first met Aaron and had been invited regularly over to Aaron’s house, Joey had gained considerable confidence in his swimming skills.

The two had taken to playing games of pretend, blowing up imaginary monsters and saving imaginary people. After they met, it hadn’t taken them long to discover that they had vivid imaginations in common. Nourished with the wealth of knowledge they gleaned from books, movies, and video games, they turned reality into any game that suited their interests. A bush was no longer a bush, but an insurmountable obstacle which could only be overcome through the use of powerful magic or superhuman strength. The tunnel formed by the sheets drying over twin clotheslines was a dark, trap-filled catacomb teeming with the undead. Somewhere, an unseen minister of evil forces controlled it all, stacking the odds against the two heroes who took pleasure in dealing with everything he sent them as they dashed his perfectly laid plans with ease. They made it up as they went, of course.

“Wanna go play the new game I got? You can make a wizard and a priest and a monk and all kinds of stuff,” Aaron said after breaking the last imaginary bad guy in half.

“Sure,” Joey replied, and grabbed his towel to bring it back inside with them. They were still slightly damp since they’d kept jumping in the pool to cool off and explore new areas, but the hot sun had seen to it that they weren’t dripping.

They scurried into the house, feeling the alluring blast of climate controlled air. Aaron shucked his shorts as soon as the door was closed and hunted for dry ones. Joey stayed behind the small couch to change. He looked quickly and curiously at Aaron’s body. He yanked his eyes away before his brain had the time to process any details. It hadn’t taken Joey long to learn to try and be as normal as possible.

Aaron’s grandmother came into the room carrying a tray with two plates and glasses. She always took the time to cook, and it was something Joey really liked about her. She was definitely one of the nicest people he’d ever met, and reminded him a lot of his own mom. After telling Aaron to clean up his room, she went back into the living room to play Tetris on the original Game Boy.

Joey grabbed one controller, Aaron took the other, and they began duking it out in Nintendo-land. Joey looked around himself longingly for a moment, drinking in the happy atmosphere and normality of the place. He paid for it by getting brutally slaughtered by one of Aaron’s fighters. The clicking and mashing of buttons were the only sounds besides giggling and yells of outrage at defeat for the next few hours, and Joey kept smiling.

 

***

 

“Joey, would you still be my friend if I had a speech impediment?” Aaron asked from the other side of the bed in the dark room. It was surely past two in the morning, but the boys had stayed up all night talking. After all, they weren’t six anymore; without a doubt, a mighty ten-year-old could withstand the sirens of sleep.

“What’s a speech impediment?” Joey asked. He’d never heard the word before.

“It’s when somebody can’t talk right,” Aaron answered. Joey thought he actually sounded worried about it, as if it were something weighing heavily on his mind.

“Why wouldn’t I, Aar?” Joey asked in reply.

“’Cause then I’d talk funny and people would look at me weird and stuff,” Aaron said.

“I went to speech when I was little, nobody made fun of me. It was really fun, all we did was play games,” Joey told him. Aaron sighed, and Joey could feel the bed move as he settled his elbow on a different spot to prop his head up.

“That was different. You couldn’t say your r’s, it was just funny-haha, like you were the guy in that movie Ms. Jenson showed us,” Aaron said, referring to the video of President Kennedy they’d seen in history class.

“I’d still be your friend, no matter what. It doesn’t matter to me,” Joey said. His mouth went wide with a yawn, and he lay back on the soft pillow.

“That’s cool, Joey. Same here, no matter what.”

 

***

 

“Nuh uh!” Joey said.

“Yeah huh, I heard my mom talking on the phone earlier today when she thought I was in my room playing games. She said he goes crazy when he does it!” Aaron told him in hushed tones.

“Why do they do that? I don’t wanna be crazy,” Joey said, his face fixed in a confused expression.

“I don’t know. It must be fun, though. She said daddy wants to do it all the time. I don’t know what they were talking about ‘cause I didn’t hear all of it, but whatever ‘it’ is, it only takes two minutes,” Aaron said. Joey thought about it for a bit, but couldn’t come up with any explanations for what Aaron’s mom was talking about.

“What else did she say about it?” Joey asked.

“Um, I know they do it at night after I go to bed. It makes sense, I guess, ‘cause sometimes at night I hear their bed making noise if everything’s quiet, but most of the time they have the TV on. Oh, and one time I heard dad breathing really hard when he went to get a glass of water,” Aaron told him.

“They have to be jumping on the bed! Think about it. Your dad’s kinda fat, so it makes sense he can’t do it any longer than two minutes! And he had to go get some water! And your dad’s funny, so he’d go crazy doing something like that. We jump on the bed all the time, it’s fun. I just didn’t know parents did stuff like that.” Joey grinned, believing he’d solved the complicated mystery.

“That doesn’t make any sense. They always tell me not to jump on the bed,” Aaron said.

“Okay, then next time you hear it just open their door. If they’re jumping on the bed and you catch them they can’t tell you not to anymore ‘cause they’re doing it,” Joey suggested.

“That’s a good idea. If they’re jumping on the bed then they have to let me from now on, and if they’re not then I’ll know what they were doing. You might be right. Dad is getting kinda fat, I don’t think he’d last longer than two minutes on a bed,” Aaron said.

“Then do it tonight so you can tell me when I come over to spend the night tomorrow.”

“Okay, I will. Wanna go play a game before you have to go home?” The two boys amused themselves by beating each other into oblivion on the TV until it was time for Joey to go home.

That night, Joey lay wondering if he’d been right about Aaron’s mystery earlier. He lay on his stomach, drifting into sleep as yelling started up in the kitchen. He heard his mother tell his dad to keep it down, that he was sleeping. That just made his dad yell louder.

Joey picked up his pillow and put it over his head, and wished they hadn’t woken him all the way back up. Sleep was when he was happiest. In his dreams, he could have anything he wanted. No one ever yelled and everyone loved him. He pressed the pillow tighter to his ears, and refused to cry. That would just make it harder to get to sleep.

He sunk into it slowly, so slowly he didn’t notice. Rain came down in sheets outside, battering the roof and lulling him into distraction. The tears had come even though he didn’t want them; his face rested in the wet spot on the mattress. Finally, he was dreaming again. Joey could have anything he wanted. He dreamed that he was at Aaron’s grandma’s, laughing and playing in the pool, then going in to play video games.

The next day, as soon as he got to Aaron’s house, they ran up to his room and turned on the video game for cover noise. Joey wanted to know desperately what was actually going on, and he knew Aaron had to have a definitive answer. Seconds later, Aaron couldn’t contain his excitement.

“They weren’t jumping on the bed!” he told Joey.

“Then what were they doing? Tell me!” Joey pleaded.

“I’m still not exactly sure, but they yelled at me to get out, and later dad came to talk to me. He told me that they were making babies,” Aaron said.

“That doesn’t make sense, how come you don’t have more brothers or sisters?” Joey asked.

“I asked him that! He said that it doesn’t always make a baby, so they do it again,” Aaron explained.

“What were they doing? I mean, how do you make babies?” Joey asked, wanting details.

“Um, I’m still not sure about that. He said that when a daddy and a mommy love each other, he puts his wee-wee in her and that’s how they make a baby,” Aaron said.

“Wait, in her? That doesn’t make sense. And how is that fun? And why does it take two whole minutes?” Joey asked.

“I don’t know. That’s just what he told me. They were naked when I walked in, I didn’t wanna ask lots of questions,” Aaron said with a shrug.

“That’s still weird. I don’t see how it could be fun. Girls are gross,” Joey said.

“Yeah, I know, I don’t get it either.”

 

***

 

“Wait, you’re eleven years old and you can’t ride a bike yet?” Aaron asked. Joey nodded, turning red and wanting to sink into the ground.

“I had a bike when I was little, but nobody ever helped me take the training wheels off and I couldn’t get them off without a wrench. Nobody ever wanted to ride a bike with me ‘till now,” Joey said, feeling like he had to defend himself to avoid being shamed.

“Oh, okay. Well, it’s easy, I’ll teach you,” Aaron said. The boys walked around to the back of Aaron’s grandma’s house to the storage shed and pulled out two bikes.

“The big one is actually my dad’s, but I use it a lot anyway. I’ll take that one since I’m taller and I already know how to ride. Mine should fit you pretty good. Okay, let’s go to the driveway,” Aaron said, taking hold of the larger bike. After they made it around, Joey gulped and looked at Aaron, who only smiled confidently.

“I don’t know if this is a good idea,” Joey started.

“It’s okay, just put one foot on the pedal and push down when you get on the seat. You’ll start moving, so get your balance and put your other foot on the pedal and go faster. The faster you go, the easier it is to keep your balance,” Aaron said. He slid a leg over the bike and demonstrated it smoothly. Joey watched him make a few circles before he decided to give it a go.

He slid one leg over the bike and rested his foot firmly on the pedal. As he began to put weight on it, he felt the bike move forward underneath him and immediately began to wobble. Joey made it two feet before he almost fell and had to take his foot off the pedal.

“Try again, you’re doing good. I’ll help hold the handlebars so you can keep your balance easier,” Aaron said, leaving his own bike to help a flustered Joey. “Yeah, that’s it, now step up onto the bike and put your other foot on the pedal.”

Joey did as he was told, and began to move forward. He was wobbling, but not nearly as much with Aaron holding the handlebars. The boy was almost an entire head taller and could hold the bike fairly steady for him. As he moved forward, he set the other foot on the pedal and pushed down. Aaron loosened his grip on the handlebars to let Joey get used to balancing the bicycle.

“Hey, it’s working!” Joey yelled. Aaron smiled back.

“Yeah, now go a little faster and I’m gonna let go,” Aaron said. He stopped following along with the bike and let Joey go on his own. In the midst of thunderous applause from Aaron, Joey made it nearly fifteen feet before wobbling terribly and falling onto the pavement shoulder first.

“You okay?!” Aaron asked, running over to help him up. Joey disentangled his legs from the bicycle and stood up slowly while Aaron brushed the dirt off of him.

“Yeah, I’m okay. Can I try again?” Joey asked. Aaron laughed and nodded, picking up the bike and holding out the handlebars. Joey slid a leg over, and managed to go a little further this time before he fell. Again, Aaron ran over to help him up and dust him off.

The next time he got off balance, he managed to set his feet down instead of slamming into the concrete. Before long, he wasn’t falling anymore at all. Aaron hopped back on the other bike and rode alongside him at the slow speed Joey was reaching. In half an hour, they were speeding down the street, laughing as they raced each other. When the streetlights came on, they put up the bikes and went inside.

“Take off those shoes! I just washed the floors!” Aaron’s grandma yelled at them. She was a sweet lady, and even when she yelled she couldn’t possibly be mean about it. They smiled and complied, kicking the shoes back just outside the door. The table was set with supper ready. “What have you boys been doing? Joey, honey, you okay?” she asked, her voice raising an octave when she saw the cuts, bruises, scrapes, and dirt all over Joey.

“Yes ma’am, Aaron taught me how to ride a bike!” Joey said, beaming. Aaron’s grandmother laughed and smiled back.

“Okay, you go get yourself cleaned up and make sure you wash those scrapes off, I don’t want your mama skinning me alive because I brought you back in two pieces!” The boys started toward the bathroom, but Aaron’s collar got caught in his grandma’s iron grip. “That was nice, Aaron. You’re an okay kid.” She hugged him tight and ruffled his hair, grinning back at his smile. “Don’t get too happy, you might be a good kid but you don’t smell good. Go get cleaned up so we can eat.”

 

***

 

Months later, Aaron and Joey had convened at Joey’s house. The two were outside as Joey’s mother sat inside, holding a new baby and trying to keep the slightly older child from poking it to wake it up because she wanted to play with it. She groaned in annoyance and set the baby down in her crib so her older sister would be unable to annoy her.

“Come on, Sammy, let’s sneak up on those boys and see what they’re doing. They’re way too quiet,” she said.

“Okay, Mama, I be quiet!” Sammy said in her two-year-old English. Her mother stopped at the window, looked out, and began to laugh. “What?” Sammy asked.

“They’re lucky your daddy isn’t home. They’re stealing a piece of his plywood right now, and they’ve got some scrap wood, too. Let’s go take them some hammers and nails, I have a feeling they’ll need them,” she said. Sammy ran to the hall closet and pulled out the toolbox with a grunt and sat down to examine the contents. Moments later she stood up holding a hammer in each hand and a grin on her face.

“I gots hammers, Mama!” She yelled.

“Good girl, hand me those and go grab that brown bag that has the nails in it. Don’t run with it, baby,” her mother said, setting both hammers on the couch and placing a fluffy pillow over both to conceal them. When Sammy brought her the nails, she set them between her crossed legs and draped a blanket over them. “Okay, now come watch TV with me and try not to giggle when they come inside.”

“I not gonna giggle, Mama,” Sammy said solemnly.

Minutes later, two sweaty boys walked inside and past Joey’s mother who was pretending to be absorbed in a talk show. She smiled as she heard the closet door open and the toolbox slide across the floor. The boys talked quietly, and she heard the toolbox slide and the door close once more. They wandered back through the living room and slipped out the front door.

Sammy burst into giggles, but her mother told her to keep it down. Five minutes later, the boys came inside with a confused look on their faces. As they went down the hall and opened the closet door, then slid out the toolbox again, she pulled the hammers out from under the pillow and set them and the nails atop her blanket. Joey and Aaron came into the living room, whispering to each other until they saw Joey’s mom sitting with the hammers and nails in her lap, grinning as Sammy started laughing.

“Looking for these, boys?” she asked, holding up the prizes they were so obviously seeking. Joey smiled and nodded. “Okay, just be careful and don’t get hurt. Stay where I can see you from the window,” she told them.

“Thanks, Mama!” Joey said.

“Yeah, thanks Ms. Susie!” Aaron chimed in. They skittered out the door and a minute later she heard pounding and wood being shuffled into a fort outside. She turned it to the channel that showed the Saturday morning cartoons so that Sammy would be content and maybe take a nap, then decided to go check on them. Looking out of the window, she caught sight of their masterpiece on the far corner of the yard, toward the bushes.

Susie raised her eyebrow, impressed at how quickly the boys had thrown together a roof and walls. One side was a little lower than the other, but it was pretty good work. Then, she noticed something; the pounding she heard was from both hammers working in a set rhythm. She saw one side bounce outward a little, then settle back. Then, on the next slam of a hammer, the opposite side did the same. It went back and forth, over and over. She also noticed that there was strangely no overhang from the ceiling over the walls. Then, she noticed the top of the wall leaving the edge of the ceiling slowly, with each slam.

“Oh jeez, this isn’t gonna end well,” she said to herself. Seconds later, just as she opened the door to warn them, the ceiling collapsed downward. She jogged quickly over to make sure they were okay, and removed a sheet of plywood to reveal two very shocked and saddened boys.

“What happened?!” Aaron asked no one in particular.

“Hon, you can’t both hit opposite walls at the same time. You need to put the ceiling on top of the walls, too, not the walls against the side of the ceiling,” Joey’s mother said, laughing at their faces. “I thought you two would have worked that out.”

“Well, we were putting some construction paper on the inside ‘cause the wood is scratchy. We didn’t think about that,” Joey said.

“Okay, well, you want me to help for a bit?” his mother asked.

“It’s okay, Ms. Susie, we have it now,” Aaron said. Joey nodded in agreement, and scrambled up to push one wall forward.

“Could you hold the ceiling while we nail it down before you go back inside?” Joey asked.

“Sure. This time be careful, I don’t want to bring you two in for tetanus shots ‘cause there’s a nail sticking in you,” she said.

“Yes ma’am!” the boys said in unison as she headed for the air conditioning and her babies inside.

 

***

 

Joey backed up quickly with a hiss. A good hiss. A hiss that was a lot better than Joey thought a hiss could be. He’d started taking karate in fifth grade, and was about to start sixth. When he got out, he was always sweaty and tired, and always took a hot shower to get clean before he went to sleep. For a while now, a certain part of him became more animated than it once was. It happened to be animated when it passed under the hard blast of the water as he reached for his towel.

He was surprised. A shiver swept through him even though the room was filled with steam. His heart was beating fast; this was the first time he’d ever noticed anything like this happening. Joey took a deep breath, and backed under the water again. He stood there, leaning against the wall and tilting his pelvis.

Five minutes later he came out of the bathroom with a huge grin and new knowledge. That had to be why people tried to make babies so much. Joey would turn thirteen in just a week. Learning about this was a great birthday present. Aaron’s birthday was almost a year earlier than his, barely still in the same grade bracket. Joey wondered if Aaron had found out about this yet. He certainly intended to ask.

The next day he rode Aaron’s bike over to his house. He’d let him borrow it after he learned to ride it, and it still worked well enough, though it was starting to get just a little bit small for him. Aaron had just never let him give it back, even though Joey had left it at his house more than once. Somehow, the next morning, it would be sitting in Joey’s front yard again.

He noticed that the cars weren’t there, and went up to knock on the door. Sure enough, Aaron was home and his parents were at work.

“Hey Joey, what’s up?” Aaron asked, turning and leaving the door open as he padded back to his bedroom. Joey stepped inside and closed the door.

“Um, I wanna talk to you about something, Aar,” Joey said.

“What is it?” Aaron asked as he plopped down on the bed. Joey stalled, picking up the other controller and looking down at the floor.

“Well, I wanted to know if, I mean, do you ever, like, when you’re in the shower or anything, do you…” Joey trailed off, blushing furiously. Aaron looked at him, eyebrows furrowed.

“What are you talking about?” Aaron asked.

“Do you ever do anything that, um, makes, well, it feel good down there?” Joey blurted out. Aaron eyebrows popped up in surprise.

“OH! Oh, that… um, yeah,” Aaron said, laughing.

“What? What is it? Why are you laughing?” Joey asked, afraid he’d just said something dumb.

“Nothing, I just thought you already knew. It’s called jerking off, all guys do it. Did you just find out about it or something?” Aaron asked, still with a smile on his face.

“Last night I was in the shower…” Joey trailed off, not wanting to explain how he’d accidentally stood at just the right angle for the water to hit in just the right place. Aaron nodded, and smiled wider.

“So it was the water, though, right? You haven’t tried anything else yet?” he asked. Joey shook his head. “Oh man, you’re missing out! Check out what I found in my parents’ room!” Aaron stepped out of the room and came back seconds later with a video tape. Joey’s eyes went wide as it began to play.

“Is that… how…” Joey asked, wondering how he’d been left out of the loop on something this big.

“Yep, you guessed it,” Aaron said. “And that’s not all, either.”

The next thirty minutes were spent in explanation of various things. The porn played, and Joey’s eyes were constantly drawn to it. He realized he was staring at the man quite a lot, but thought it was because he was just curious because he’d never really seen a man naked before. Aaron explained to him about lubricant, and showed him his stashed tub of Vaseline. The temptation too great for mere teenage boys, they ended up sitting side by side on the bed, comparing equipment and watching the movie. By the last five minutes, both had taken matters into their own hands.

Joey laughed out loud when they were finished. Aaron looked at him quizzically as he headed to the bathroom to wash his hands.

“Now I definitely know why your dad wanted to make babies all the fucking time,” he said.

 

***

 

“What a fag!” Justin said. Joey cringed inwardly at the word, but didn’t say anything. Instead he just quieted down and blended in, hoping that the subject would change fast. Justin laughed at the kid who had been tripped by one of the others in the cafeteria, then turned his attention back to his own table.

The boys’ features were marked by the onset of adolescence. Limbs were all of a sudden too long, bits and pieces mismatched in size as the body struggled to keep up with the demands set by metabolism and growth. Hormones sizzled through their blood, making every emotion extreme. Joey was the only one who seemed to have retained the grace of his childhood. Puberty hadn’t slammed into him the way it had with the other boys. His limbs all still matched, none too long or lanky for his body.

The other boys were still laughing at Justin’s insult of the kid who’d tripped. He’d been long branded a fag, pansy, queer, one of those boys. Being associated with a fag meant social death in middle school. The savage hierarchy worked itself out quickly as the boys found their own places. Aaron was a jock, privileged because of his involvement in the football team. Joey was the friend of a jock, and kept his spot quietly and without fuss.

In the midst of it all, Joey and Aaron were still best friends. They still hung out and slept over at each other’s houses. The games had changed, of course. No more playing pretend and the video games had gotten gorier. Every Friday was their night to hang out and just play around.

Later that day they met up at Aaron’s grandmother’s house. They spent the rest of the day swimming and playing games. That night, Joey lay on the couch facing the TV, Aaron on his bed facing the same way. At about one in the morning, they were flipping channels. Before long, Aaron stopped at one of the movie channels. Soft core porn flashed against their eyes and both boys’ hearts beat faster.

“Do you wanna…?” Joey started as he looked to Aaron. Aaron hesitated.

“We shouldn’t,” he finally said.

“Oh. Why?” Joey asked. Aaron shrugged.

“It’s kind of gay, you know. We just shouldn’t do it together anymore,” Aaron told him.

“Oh, okay.” Joey nodded and set his head against the pillow. Thoughts attacked him from all angles. Joey knew he liked boys. Joey also knew that nobody could know, because then they’d treat him like that kid at school. Sleep pulled at him gently, tugging him away into the safety of his dreams. He shook it off, though.

“Aaron,” Joey said.

“Yeah?” Aaron asked.

“I think I’m gay,” Joey said. Aaron didn’t say anything back. Joey buried his face in the pillow and felt hot tears soak the fabric. He didn’t sob or make any noises. Deliberately quiet, he took slow, deep breaths through layers of fabric and polyester stuffing.

“Let’s go to sleep,” was all that Aaron had to say.

The next morning, Aaron didn’t talk to Joey. He slid out of the room as Joey awakened and got in the shower. Aaron knew Joey had to be home in the next few minutes and wouldn’t have time to wait and talk. Joey, seeing the empty room, just gathered up his stuff into his backpack and left.

He arranged everything so it wouldn’t throw him off balance, and then swung a leg over the bike. His hands gripped the handlebars, but then he swung his leg back over and dismounted. The bike fell to the ground, and Joey began the slow walk home.

“Go get the mail for me, Aar,” his grandmother called. Aaron hopped up from the couch and out the door to the mailbox. He scooped up the newspaper on his way back, noticing the bike that sat on his lawn. Aaron set the mail down on the step, and picked up the bike. He stared at it for a while, then started to walk it toward the road. Halfway down the driveway, he stopped.

The bike took up residence in the storage shed along with Joey’s long standing open invitation. That night, Joey lay in bed waiting for the chance to dream about anything he wanted. As he slipped away, his visions were of two little boys swimming and playing pretend.

 

***

 

Joey walked down the quiet lane slowly, kicking rocks left and right. There were no houses along this stretch of road, making it the perfect place to go for a walk. He thought about the fact that Aaron hadn’t talked to him for a month now. He no longer sat at the same lunch table, and he had slipped in with the outcast group. There was always an assortment of kids ready to give any other sanctuary in their group so long as they were tolerable.

“Hey fag.” Joey looked up to see where the voice came from, and was confronted by a group of boys. He knew them, but he was surprised to see Aaron and Justin among the group. Justin had thrown the insult his way. Joey looked at them fearfully, and walked the other way.

“I heard you said something about me, faggot,” Justin said, his voice closer this time.

“I haven’t said anything,” Joey mumbled, knowing the whole thing was a setup. He felt the hand close on his shoulder and spin him around. A fist connected with his nose and his vision was spotted and colored with pain. Another punch forced him to the ground, and he felt one of the boys kick him in the side. He chanced a glance at Aaron, who stood close by, watching. Aaron turned around, and Joey closed his eyes.

After a few more kicks and insults, the boys left, laughing. Joey stood up as they walked out of sight, and dusted off his clothes. He knew his nose and lip were bleeding from the taste of blood when he licked his lips. On the walk home, Joey didn’t cry. He didn’t even think about what had just happened. The only thing he thought about was how much he just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up.

 

***

 

Aaron slid out of bed and pulled on shorts and a T-shirt. High school summers made the air buzz with excitement. Aaron had something he intended to do today, no matter what. He hopped out of the door and started walking toward Joey’s house.

“I’m gonna tell him I’m sorry. I’m gonna fix it. I’m gonna tell him everything,” Aaron mumbled to himself. His heart was beating faster with each step, and nearly burst from his chest as he stepped into the driveway. He could almost see the front door around the bend in the trees.

As it came into sight, he stopped. Some guy was sitting on Joey’s front step, hugging him close. The air was thick with tension as Aaron halted and listened close to hear what they were saying. Tiny droplets landed on his arms and he shivered at the ticklish feeling.

“You okay, Joey? You’re crying,” the guy asked Joey. Joey looked back at him and smiled.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I love you, Jonathan,” Joey said. Aaron’s eyes went wide as he clutched the tree he was leaning against tightly.

“Well, if you’re fine, don’t cry. I like it when you smile,” Jonathan said. Joey looked up from his black nails and grinned at Jonathan.

“I’m not crying, damn it, it’s the rain. It was dripping down my face, that’s all,” Joey said. They seemed to both accept the obvious lie, and kissed as Aaron started to walk away.

“Yeah,” Aaron thought as the tears stung his eyes. “It’s one bitch of a rainy day, Joey.”

 

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© 2007 Razor
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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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
2007 - Fall - The Rainy Day Entry
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It is something we all have to deal with in life. The regret of saying things too late, or leaving things till the chance/moment/opportunity is long gone.

Sad story. Typical, and there were times I was able to smile at the innocence, frown at the craziness of youth, and regret the reality of coming of age.

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This was such a sad, sad story. I can't imagine how Joey must have felt to be totally abandoned by your lifelong best friend. And to make matters WORSE, when he's beat up by the class homophobe/bully Justin, Aaron just STANDS THERE AND DOES NOTHING.

 

When Aaron finally goes to apologize to Joey, after years of not talking to him, he sees a boy sitting with Joey on the stoop and thinks he's too late, so he leaves. Of course he should have tried to apologize, even though Joey would have had every right to tell him to get lost, he should have tried.

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