When dad finally left my room I could barely move. He warned me that if he ever heard of something like this again my punishment would be even worse; and that if he ever had to teach me the same lesson for the third time I would have to find a new place to live, because he absolutely refused to waste his money on a stupid freak of nature.
Thankfully by the time Monday came around only a few bruises were still visible, and just one or two still hurt. Of course, the school uniform covered everything. During the days I spent home I received dozen of text messages from my friends and my girlfriend, but I was not on the mood to read any. I told them not to come see me, partially because I was too mentally exhausted to deal with other people, and partially because I did not want them to notice I could not sit down properly.
Considering the crowd that had surrounded Jean and I on our way to the teacher’s office, it would be surprising if the whole school was not already aware of what had happened, so I tried to mentally prepare for the wave of verbal assaults that would undoubtedly drown me as soon as I set foot in the school building. I had a clue of what the slurs would be like: faggot, cock-sucker, sissy. I thought I could cope with it. I thought that, as long as I managed to pass the horde of students in the corridors and find my friends everything would be fine.
I was right about the first part. People I did not know, mostly older students, were very happy to shout and point at me. Their laughs followed me all the way to where my friends were hanging out near the rugby field.
“Hey, look, it’s the fag!” One of my friends shouted before I could get near them. They all stood in a line, their arms crossed in front of their chests. Wendy, my girlfriend, came forward to meet me.
“What happened last week, Oscar? Were you having so much fun with your new boyfriend that you forgot about us?” she asked sourly. My friends let out sinister laughs.
“Jean is not my…” I tried to explain, but was cut of almost immediately.
“Oh, you know his name? I thought your kind only cared about penis size.” She made a disgusted face. People were gathering around us at an alarming speed. My friends were laughing like everybody else. They had the same sadistic glint in their eyes, the same threatening postures.
“What is going on? Why are you doing this?” ‘Why have you turned against me?’ I wanted to ask, but the words died in my throat.
“Why are we doing this?” Wendy echoed, exasperated. “Don’t play dumb, Oscar! You spent most of the week avoiding us after people saw you with the school’s man whore. Anyone can put two and two together: you fucked, you cheated on me, and you’re a disgusting fag! You lied to us all this time!”
“No, Wendy, you got it wrong, I…” I tried to approach her, but she put her hand up to stop me. Her voice increased in volume and pitch at every sentence, attracting even more people. They formed a circle around us, and I half expected them to shout “Fight! Fight!” at some point, though the thought of it made me feel sick.
“How can I get it wrong? You fucked a guy, Oscar! You’ve been using me all this time! I’m so stupid; I should’ve seen it coming!” She faced me with such fury I instinctively took a few steps back. “Now that I think about it, the signs were all there! You’re so much nicer to girls, you don’t like sports, and you write romance novels! I bet you have a taste for fashion too, but you’ve been hiding it along with everything else!”
“Wendy, please…” I felt hundreds of eyes surrounding me, the weight of their stares making my eyes sting. I needed to make her and everyone else listen to me. It was a misunderstanding, I was not gay. I really liked Wendy. I had never lied to them. But before I could say any of it Brandon, the tallest and strongest of our group, a guy who had his black hair cut very short because he liked to pretend he was in the army, stood in front of her glaring at me like he wanted to dismember me slowly and painfully.
“We have no more business with you, sissy boy.” He said, gritting his teeth. “Go fuck your new boyfriend and leave us alone, or else I’ll make you regret ever being born.”
“At least let me explain! You don’t know what happened!” I begged, feeling a tear run down my cheek. At that moment I was too mortified by the possibility of losing my friends to realise that crying would only strengthen their new-found opinion of my character.
“As Wendy said, we have more than enough proof of your poofness, but by all means go ahead and humiliate yourself further. I think everyone here would like to hear your ‘explanation’.” He gestured towards the ever-increasing crowd. There were many nods and murmurs of approval.
“I didn’t ask for any of it, I…”
I was interrupted again, this time by a boy emerging from the crowd, grinning broadly as he danced his way towards Brandon and Wendy. His blond hair was tied in a ponytail, his school tie was hanging precariously on his neck and his shirt was a few sizes too small, clinging on his slim body and showing off his belly-button and a portion of his perfect six-pack.
“He was very enthusiastic about it once we got it going.” Jean said, seemingly ready to jump on Brandon. “His cock is one of the best I’ve had; thick like my fist and very, very long” He turned to Wendy, grinning suggestively “You have no idea what you are missing out on.” and winked at her. I felt my face heat up as Wendy’s jaw dropped in surprise. “And you…” he spoke to Brandon again. Although he was much taller and a lot stronger than Jean, my (former?) friend retreated a few steps, looking absolutely terrified. “… You look like you need a good fuck. Why don’t you meet me behind the gym at lunch break so we can have some fun together?” Jean swiftly moved to his side, caressing one of his muscled arms. Wendy, face still tinted red, returned to the rest of her friends, leaving Brandon alone to face the blond. “I promise your cock will be very happy…” he moved to touch Brandon’s crotch, but was pushed to the ground before he could get too far. It seemed Brandon woke from his panicked stupor just in time.
“Don’t touch me, fag!” He yelled, aiming a kick at Jean’s torso. The younger boy was lying on his back, not yet recovered from the fall.
“Afraid you’ll like it?” Brandon halted mid-way into the kick as Jean spoke again, apparently in no hurry to get back to his feet. “I can’t really blame you, but it’s a shame. You’re wasting a great opportunity.” Brandon huffed, turning away from Jean and grabbing Wendy by her arm.
“Get lost. We have better things to do than waste our time with two stupid faggots.” The group I once called my friends turned their backs to us and left, not bothering to look at me or say anything. The crowd began dispersing soon afterwards, as it was clear nothing interesting was going to happen. A few minutes later, Jean and I were alone.
“Why did you interrupt me?” I asked, letting my knees fall on the overgrown grass. My mind was blank, defeated by my friends’ betrayal. It was like being in a surreal nightmare, in which I had taken an overdose of morphine that made my body and mind numb. I could not even get mad at Jean, or muster the energy to go after Wendy and try to explain myself again. It was hopeless; it would be better to just disappear…
“Because jerks who turn against you after a single rumour don’t deserve to be your friends.” It was the most serious look I had seen in Jean’s face as he offered his hand to help me stand up again. “Which is a shame, because he’s really hot!” He paused, waiting for me to shake off the dirt from my trousers and look at him again. He embraced me with one arm, leading us towards the school building. “I like hot jerks, though. Maybe I’ll make him change his mind later.” His look sent chills down my spine. I avoided looking at him again until we were safely inside the assembly hall, but for some reason I did not feel like shaking his arm off my shoulder.
At the morning break Jean came up to me as soon as I was out of the classroom. He told me I needed a new group of friends and led me to one of the outside tables in front of the main building. Three people sat there, their faces somewhat familiar to me, though I could not remember their names.
“Hi guys, this is Oscar. Oscar, these are your new friends, Hannah, Olivia and Henry. We’re the school’s self-proclaimed gay club.” He pointed to each of them in turn. Hannah was a girl with long wavy black hair and an intimidating scowl. I vaguely remembered her being in my Biology class, and maybe English, but I had never spoken to her before. Olivia was a small girl with short red hair and relatively large breasts. She was wearing trousers and absolutely no make-up, possibly the only girl in school that did so. She was also wearing at least two extra layers of clothes, despite the weather being quite warm for late March. We had Geography and Physics together, but I could count on the finger of one hand the number of times we had spoken to each other. Henry was also in my Geography class, and we also shared Social Education and Religious Education. He was a shy guy who never spoke up and often got teased and called ‘fag’ by other guys. As he looked at me, his smile was strained and he waived briefly before looking down at his hands.
“Are you all fags?” I asked before I could think about what I was saying. Hannah looked like she wanted to kill me, Henry blushed, and Jean made a funny face that probably said ‘duh, isn’t that obvious?’. Olivia was the only one who spoke, but despite her words her tone was monotonous and disinterested, like she knew it to be a wasted effort to say anything.
“I’m not a lesbian, but no one believes me when I say it, so I’m stuck here anyway.” She motioned to the clothes, as if to say ‘dressed like this no one believes I’m straight’.
“Oh, you speak like you don’t like us!” Jean exclaimed, bear-hugging her from behind. Olivia roller her eyes, but smiled nonetheless. “We’re all fags, but Hannah doesn’t like that word, so I advice you not to repeat it if you value your life.” And he was next to me again, running a hand over my lower back while guiding me to a seat next to Henry. He sat on the boy’s other side.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend.” Hannah locked gazes with me for many agonising seconds, evaluating my sincerity.
“Are you gay?” she asked suddenly, making my heart skip a beat. She was not as intimidating as my father, but I had no doubt that once she reached his age she would be just as scary.
“Oscar’s had more gay sex than you, so you shouldn’t ask him that.” Jean retorted with a strange smile. I expected Hannah to jump on him or at least look like she would, but she merely shrugged. Jean turned to me next. “Hannah and I have been friends for almost two years now, so she already knows it’s no use arguing with me. Edgar introduced me to Henry and Olivia last week before I got suspended.”
“And he tried to jump on Henry too.” Hannah added, pointedly looking at said boy. Since Henry was sitting next to me, it was clear she was trying to avoid me after Jean’s put down. “I think he would’ve succeeded if you hadn’t got on the way.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I would’ve.” Jean agreed, running his hand over Henry’s short brown hair. The brunet blushed violently, but said nothing. “Actually, the reason I went over to that toilet was to check if it would be a good place to have fun with him.”
“Which means Henry has to thank you for being able to go to school last week.” Olivia mused, a carefree smile playing on her lips. Jean seemed to consider her words for a while.
“Well, I can do something about it!” And he turned Henry’s face towards him and kissed him full on the lips. The brunet initially froze in surprise, but then began to melt into the kiss. Jean’s hands went under the boy’s jumper and Henry let out a high-pitched whimper. I looked away when Jean climbed on Henry’s lap, not sure about what to think of this random make-out session. It was definitely weird seeing two guys kissing, but not as repulsive as I had been led to believe.
“Stop it before Henry ruins his uniform.” Hannah warned, sounding bored and not impressed.
“Should we go to a more private place, then?” The blond suggested, caressing Henry’s face seductively. His voice was low and sexy, making my mind send me flashes of memories from last week as well as completely made-up snapshots of me and Jean doing what he was doing with Henry in a lavishly decorated bedroom with a round bed and a mirror on the roof. I shook my head, desperate to clear those images away. I had no idea I was capable of such fantasies. The two partially-healed gashes in my legs began to throb, reminding me that those thoughts were wrong.
“But classes will start soon…” Henry pushed Jean away slightly, trying to keep a serious face. “And… and you’re just back from suspension… and… and…”
“Yeah, whatever. If you don’t want it I can just go to Oscar again.” Jean turned to me, jumping on my lap before I could process what he was doing. He kissed me like he had kissed Henry, and I found myself unable to stop him. Just like last time, there was something hypnotic about his touch that made my brain melt and that pulverised all my barriers against this sort of thing.
“Look, the fag is really kicking the closet’s door now!” I heard someone shout from behind us. This was enough to bring me back to my senses and force the blond away. I turned to see who had shouted and was not surprised (thought obviously hurt) to see Brandon and two of the friends who had rejected me looking at our table with knowing smiles on their lips. “He’s probably compensating for all the time he spent pretending to be normal. That, or that’s just how fags do things.”
“That’s how I do things!” Jean beamed, waiving to Brandon with his brightest smile. “I live to fuck and I fuck to live, and I can always make room for another cock!” He winked, his smile turning devious. Olivia tried unsuccessfully to muffle a laugh. Like earlier, Brandon made a face and left.
“You had some great friends.” Olivia remarked sarcastically. “Kind of makes me glad I didn’t have friends until now.” She said it like she was not bothered by having been friendless at some point in the past, but it made me feel bad for her, and made me want to say something to make her feel better. I could not think of anything, though, so I just nodded and forced the corner of my lips up. It was probably better not to dwell on the implications of her use of the past sentence when referring to my friends, at least for now.
“I think we should get going, the break will end soon.’ Henry suggested, gathering his things and standing up. “We have Geography next, so maybe we should go together?” He asked both me and Olivia. “Mr Smith will probably like to see that you are with us now.”
“I don’t know, he might be worried that Oscar is hanging out with Jean after getting suspended because of him” Hannah argued, also getting her stuff. “Well, have fun in Geography and say hello to Mr Smith for me.”
“Yes, we will. Enjoy your Modern Studies” Olivia replied. They were all ready to go, apart from Jean and I. I tried to get him off me so that I could get my things too, but he refused to move.
“Will try. See you later.” Hannah turned around and left. Olivia and Henry turned to us expectantly.
“C’mon, we should go now or we’ll get trapped in the corridors.” Olivia said, coming to stand beside my chair. Jean looked at her with a pained expression.
“Aw, already? I was enjoying it so much…” He kissed me quickly and finally moved, standing beside Olivia. She was so much shorter than him (and by extension me, as Jean and I were about the same height) it was almost comical. “Well, see you at lunch!” He stole a kiss from me and Henry and disappeared, presumably going to his next class, though after spending the last fifteen minutes with him I could not be entirely sure.
“Ready to go?” Henry asked, getting my backpack for me.
The three of us walked side by side on our way to Geography. As Hannah had guessed, Mr Smith was pleased to see I had made new friends, thought the first thing he said to me when we entered his classroom was ‘I’m sorry for the trouble Jean has caused you. I hope he hasn’t made things too difficult for you’. I did not have the heart to tell him the truth; he looked worried enough as it was. So I just smiled and told him everything was all right.
Last week I had broken school rules and been suspended for the first time in my school life. Today I was lying to a teacher. I did not want to imagine what I would be doing by next week.
Hopefully this feeling of accomplishment will still be there once I put the next chapter up in two weeks time. This story shall stick to its schedule from now on!
Thanks for reading!