I sulked back into the performing arts center where the talent show was, with Denika tugging me along to make sure I kept moving. I honestly did feel better, I suppose. The talent show will keep my mind off of things though. We wove our way through rows of seats in the darkened room to find our way back to our group. It was a rather large room, which was fitting for a school our size. We needed to be able to fit several hundred people in there for assemblies! We finally made our way over to where we had been sitting before I had my little breakdown. Waiting for us there were all of my wonderful friends, and him. He was sitting a couple of rows in front of us and a little to the right. I could just make out the back of his head. Oh joy. Now I get to watch him laugh and mess around with his friends for the rest of the show. Well, I already knew he was there earlier, but still. I wonder if he really does like me at all. I wonder if he really is just too shy to respond to my text messages. He is a shy person, after all.
You know, he's cute when he smiles. When he smiles his whole face just lights up; it almost reminds me of a little kid getting something that they really wanted under the tree on Christmas morning. He just glowed whenever he smiled, and his dimples enhanced that whole aura tenfold. He's cute when he blinks, too. I'm absolutely fascinated with his eyes. I just can't help getting lost in those gorgeous brown tones. He has such a playful twinkle in those eyes all the time, and it just makes me feel so… overjoyed to get to know him at all. He makes me feel like a little kid again sometimes. I really miss that. Growing up is getting a tad bit difficult. Yay for more responsibilities and harder problems! Sigh… I'm getting kind of obsessive, aren't I? It's not like I can really help it. Hell, If I could stop liking him so much, I would, but there's a reason for everything, right? So, maybe there's a reason why I've developed such strong feelings for him. Maybe we were meant to find each other, like soul mates? I really shouldn't get ahead of myself.
I found my seat and settled back down next to Kyle and Eden. Eden turned to me with a worried look painted on her face. God, I must look like such a mess. Even in the dark, you can probably see how red and puffy my eyes and eyelids are, even with Denika's quick fix up to try and make me look presentable.
"Are you okay? What happened?" she asked. Yeah… that's a story I'd rather not get into with a girl I'm apparently more or less dating. You see, when we got back from our winter break, our school announced that we would be having a Winter Formal dance. I had never been to a dance before, and I really wanted to go. That meant, unfortunately, I had to find a date. Well, I guess I didn't have to, but at our school, pretty much no one went without a date. It would have been embarrassing to show up without one. That's where this funny little situation with Eden started. She was one of my really good friends, and I had heard from a little birdie that she had a crush on me. I planned on just asking her to go as a friend, but that got a little lost in communication. So, It kind of turned into an actual date. It was a lot of fun though. We went there on a double date with Kyle and Denika, who now are 'officially' dating. Lately, I've been getting a LOT of peer pressure about asking Eden to be my girlfriend. Everyone is telling me that she likes me, that she'd say yes, and that we make a great couple. I already got suckered into taking her out on another date to the movies since then, which is a whole other story in itself! I had NO intentions of letting it get this far, and I have no intentions of making it official either. Yay me. More problems to deal with!
"I'm fine. I just had to get some fresh air," I said. "I'll be okay."
"You look like you've been crying. What's wrong?" she asked. Crap! Okay, what should I say to that?!
"No, my eyes are watering because they're a little irritated from my cold, cause I'm pretty sure I'm getting sick. I ran out to blow my nose and run to the restroom." Whew! That was a pretty good excuse, if I do say so myself! I hope she bought that. I don't really want to lie about having a cold, but it'll have to do.
"Okay. I'm sorry you're not feeling okay," She turned and gave me a little hug. "Sorry, I probably shouldn't do that. I don't want to get sick too!"
"Come on! Join the party! The mucus is nice and warm!" She made a gagging expression and shifted in her seat towards the other side.
"Oh gross. You're disgusting!" She laughed and reached out to the side to swat at my arm. Kyle tapped on my shoulder to say something, and I turned to listen while Eden went back to watching the show.
"When are you going to ask her, dude? Come on, don't be chicken. You should make it official tonight. Ask her to be your girlfriend!" He whispered. Oh great, not THIS talk again! I'm gay! I don't want a girlfriend!
"Shut up!" I whispered back at him.
"Ah, dude! Do it!" he egged on. He didn't seem appalled at all by my rudeness, and opened his mouth to say something else. Oh Kyle, forever the one that can not be deterred from his goal or mission.
"Just watch the show!" I yelled. He can just be so annoying sometimes! He's mainly known for being kind of an asshole though. I have NO idea why any of us are even friends with him. I wonder why we are, every now and then. I mean, who wants to be friends with someone you feel obligated to nickname 'ass-face?' I guess we had just known each other long enough to be inseparable? I can't even imagine how Denika can stand dating him! He better be treating her nice, or I swear I'll… well, I don't know what I'd do, because he could probably kick my ass in a fight. Oh well, I can just shrug it off. No one can FORCE me to ask her out. I can deal with his pestering for one evening. My night was already ruined anyway, because of Tanis's little 'I'm just going to check your message and then ignore you' stunt. It couldn't get much worse than being rejected by the one you love.
I actually managed to get through that terrible night. Kyle kept bugging me about my relationship status, and Denika kept rambling on about this and that through the whole show. I love her, but she was being just about as annoying as Kyle was that night. Thank the lord above that the show finally ended! There were actually some pretty talented people in it though. One girl sang a song and sounded just like, if not better than, Sarah Bareilles. She was amazing! None of that could really distract me from the fact that he was right in front of us the whole time, however. There he was, completely oblivious to the fact that I'm mere feet away from him. Good thing it was over though, because now I could leave and get away from him. I don't have to be trapped and kept to endure his presence anymore. Thank God! Watching him was going to drive me crazy!
We finally navigated our way out of the crowded theater and headed our separate ways for the night. Denika decided to catch up to me really quick after we all said our goodbyes to make sure I was okay.
"Hey! You feeling better?" she asked, and scanned me over with her eyes to get a complete idea of how I was feeling and whether I not I would be lying to her when I decided to say something.
"Yeah. Thanks again. This was fun tonight! I wish they'd do more stuff like this!" I said.
"They are! They're having an air bands show next week! Do you want to go? Kyle can't, Eden's working at the yoga studio with her mom, and Brenna and Cody don't want to go. I'd be all alone! Pretty please?!" she begged, sticking out her bottom lip to give me a playful pout. She even went so far as to widen her eyes to give me the cutest little desperate plea I had ever seen. "You're my BEST friend! PLUS, it's a good way to celebrate the official release of that book you illustrated! Come on, we can even go out for ice cream afterwards. PLEASE?!"
"Fine!" I yelled. "Are you happy now?"
"Oh, you just wipe that toothy grin off you're face, miss. You owe me one now!" I said.
"Psh! You know you would have wound up going anyway, you Poopy-Head McSpazatron!" She gave me a serious look and then burst out laughing, pulling me right in with her.
"What… what the heck?! W-Where did THAT come from?! I don't want that nickname!" I stuttered out. I couldn't stop laughing even if I tried. This is why I love her: she can always make me laugh until I get tears in my eyes. I was laughing so hard, that yes, I was literally crying. "Geez, stop! Stop! It… it hurts to laugh!"
"Come on," she said. "Give me a hug!" She grabbed ahold of me and squeezed enough to nearly bug out my eyeballs! "Text me tomorrow, kay?"
"Sure thing!" I yelled off in her direction as she ran to get in her car, where her mom was waiting to pick her up. I noticed that it looked like a new car. They must have gotten rid of their old one. Hmm... oh well, I guess I'll tell her next saturday, then.
I walked home that night, stewing in my own thoughts. My home was right down the street anyways. I shouldn't dwell on it, I really shouldn't, but he just overwhelms every thought I have! I'm totally overreacting about the rejection thing, aren't I? I guess I'm jumping to conclusions again. I really shouldn't be so down on him. He's a really nice guy... he wouldn't hurt me on purpose.
I made it home and fumbled for my keys to unlock the door. When I finally got inside, I found that my mom was still at work and that my dad and I would be alone together for a few hours until she got home. "Hey Dad!" I said as I walked past the kitchen and into the living room.
"Hey buddy! How was your talent show thing?" he asked.
"It was great! There were some really talented people in it!"
"These two girls who sang a duet of an Adele song. They were really good," I answered. "What are you up to?"
"Me? I… uh, I'm making the… um, the food."
"I'm making that stuff with the… um, I'm making the chicken for you. I already, um, had a steak, but I remembered you wanted the chicken." he slurred. Oh great, he's been drinking again.
"Dammit! Dad, have you been drinking?!" I demanded an answer, and so help me God, if he lies to me…
"No! No, of course not! Why… why would you say… um, that?" he asked as he stumbled about the kitchen trying to find a pair of tongs to turn the chicken with. It was a tiny little kitchen, so he was having a hell of a time navigating it. He was a rather large man, after all; he had a nice, round beer belly. Disgusting!
"Jesus! You don't think I can tell by now?! Don't lie to me!" I yelled. I was getting really frustrated. I can stand the drinking, but I will NOT tolerate being lied to! Yes, he is an adult, and he can do what he wants. Yes, he is the father and I am the son, and I have to do what he says, but most of the time, I feel like I'm the adult in this situation. "If you want to have anything to do with me- if you want to keep us on somewhat of good terms, for Mom's sake and mine, go to bed. Just go. You aren't only hurting yourself with this, Dad, you are hurting me, and you are hurting Mom, and neither one of us deserves this! We CAN NOT put up with you any more! You HAVE to stop!"
"I- I know." he whispered, and left me to finish cooking my dinner while he went to sleep it off. God, I can't STAND it when he drinks. Well, it's either he's drunk, or he's really grumpy because he hasn't been drinking. Take your pick.
I went to bed with a million and one thoughts swimming around in my head. So many things are starting to pile up on me- so many problems, which, for one, are my dad's drinking habits. Then, there's the fact that my mom WILL divorce him if he doesn't get his act together. She would have done it already, but we can't afford to live separately, not since my dad's business went under and we lost our house. Now, we have to live in this cramped little townhouse! Okay, let's see… then, there's the Eden situation, the decision to tell Denika my little secret next Saturday, and this damn mess with Tanis. I love my life. It's SO absolutely perfect in every way.
In my last moments of consciousness that night, I thought of Tanis, and I cried. God, I'm so pathetic.
The days began to run together as I slowly fell into a routine, and little by little, withdrew pieces of myself from the world. I felt like there was no excitement in life any more. My doubts and worries had become such heavy burdens, that I just… I lost the will to live. I felt lonelier and lonelier every day. I was surrounded by people who loved and cared about me, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't help but feel lonely. You know, it's all his fault. I was fine before he came along. He just had to go and… steal away what little happiness I had left. He's the one that made me feel like the only way to get it back is to be with him. If only it were so easy. At this point, he's the only thing that makes me happy. The ONLY thing. I wish it weren't true. I really do. Maybe telling Denika will help relieve some of this stress. I really need a friend that I can vent to right about now.
Friday finally came around, and I was a nervous wreck. Was I really going to talk to Denika tomorrow? Oh God… maybe I shouldn't. I… I don't know what to do.
"Hey Dylan!" came a voice from the desk next to mine. I turned my head slightly to see Tanis sitting there, unpacking his things for class. He lifted his head up a little from searching through his bag and smiled at me. Sigh… I hate him for making me love him. The way he said that was too… cool. My name always sounded so much better coming from his lips.
"Oh, hey Tanis. What's up?" I asked. I may be a little on edge and depressed, but I'd give the world to be able to have a conversation with him. When I was talking with him, nothing else mattered. Nothing… at… all. "How's volleyball going? I heard you had a game yesterday. How'd you guys do?"
"We won," he said. "We have another game next friday night. It's a home game." He used his hand to brush the hair out of his eyes as he finished getting his homework out. Then, he made eye contact with me as he waited for me to say something.
"Oh really? Maybe I should go. I want to see you kick the other teams' ass!" I said. He's too cool. I remember when I first found out that he loved volleyball. I was talking to him one day, and somehow we started talking about sports. I had mentioned that I liked to play soccer, and then I asked him if he liked to play any sports, of which he said volleyball. Now, to the best of my knowledge, there was only a girls' volleyball team at our school, so I decided to poke a little fun at him. I told him that he should try out for the school's team, but that I thought there was only a girls' team. I told him that it shouldn't be too much of a problem for him though! We joke like that with each other every now and then. Well, anyways, I guess that the school wound up putting together a boys' volleyball team this year, and he decided to try out. He made the cut, apparently, and although I wouldn't say it out loud to him, I was SO proud. I knew he could do it!
"Sure. Why not? You just do that." he said, and then started laughing at my enthusiasm, all the while still being able to hold our, now almost intimate, eye contact. It was almost making me uncomfortable from all of the lovey-dovey feelings it generated in my heart.
"Okay, quiet down class! I'm taking attendance!" Mrs. Ramirez announced.
"Uh oh. ¡Es la bruja!" I joked. Mrs. Ramirez could be a bit of a witch sometimes. One-on-one, she could be really nice, but she could also be really strict when she wanted to be. Most of the class hated her. I kind of liked her, however. She was always nice to me- I guess because I was one of her best students. A lot has changed since the beginning of the year. Now, I actually LOVE Spanish! I find it really interesting to learn another language. Plus, by what Mrs. Ramirez has told me, I excel in it.
"¡Sí! No me gusta nada su profesora." He giggled and turned to listen to Mrs. Ramirez.
"I don't know. Sometimes I like her, sometimes I don't," I said. Tanis smiled at me and gave me a shush to shut me up. He looked over at the teacher and glanced back to flash me a grin.
"Pay attention, slacker!" he whispered. I let my draw drop as a joke, and then I threw my pencil at him to piss him off. "Wow. Dude, quit it. she's going to yell at us!"
"Oh, you're no fun!" I said, and then sunk back down into my chair in a huff. He just rolled his eyes and turned back to listen to the lesson as it was starting. I really wish I wasn't so nervous to ask him to hang out. Sure, I've asked people to hang out tons of times in my life so far, but he was… different. He was just, well… HIM! I would have asked him to hang out sometime a long time ago, if I wasn't scared to death about him saying no. I would have asked him to hang out sometime over that summer after 8th grade, but of course, he left a week early to go on some vacation or something. So, right when I'm getting up the nerve to ask, suddenly he's gone! Sigh... that was the final nail on the coffin that, at the time, really made me feel like it wasn't meant to be. I mean, if I asked him to hang out now though, he wouldn't say no unless he hated my guts, and that doesn't seem like the case. Okay, breathe. I can do it. I will do it. Soon.
After what seemed like an eternity, as it always does on Fridays, the bell rang and signaled the end of the school day. Tanis leapt out of his seat as always to try and catch up with his friends. This time, however, I was determined to catch up to him. I packed up as fast as I could and sped up to keep with his pace. When he saw me there, thank God, he slowed down a little to talk to me.
"Way to go for almost getting us in trouble with the teacher!" he said.
"No problem! Next time, I really WILL get us in trouble with the teacher!" I said, giving him a sarcastic smile.
"Asshole!" He smirked and and bumped me with his backpack, nearly knocking me back onto the cold, hard tile as punishment. I heard some snickering from other students lining the halls as we walked by, and I became embarrassed immediately after his little trick.
"Aw, dude! That's not cool!" I yelled while trying to keep myself from turning as red as a lobster with blush, which was incredibly hard to do considering what just happened!
"You mad, bro?" he asked, with a wicked grin plastered on his face.
"Don't use meme sayings on me!" I said quietly, in an attempt to keep people from staring at us.
"Why you no like memes?!" he asked, and then flashed me a bright smile and erupted into laughter.
"Oh har-dee-har-har. Tanis, you're just SO funny. I don't know how a single person could BE so funny!" I said, slightly recovering from the incident. When I looked over at him, he seemed like he might have been blushing now! I couldn't tell if it was from what I just said, or the whole situation though.
"Wow. Okay, well I've got to go. I'll see you on Monday!" he said. Okay, wait! Here's my chance to say something! Um… ooh! I know! X-Box live!
"Hey, wait! I'm going to be on live this weekend. Want to meet up online and play a game together?" He almost stopped dead in his tracks, like he was panicking at the very notion.
"Um… y-yeah. Sure. Cool." he said, and then turned to leave. WOW, I think I can consider that a major step in the right direction! I asked him to hang out- well, sort of. It's just below that step though! It's like… a step above talking on the phone, and a step below hanging out in person. Not bad for a day's work, if I do say so myself!
I pulled out my ipod and decided to listen to it on my way home. I've always loved music. I've always felt such a deep connection to music, and certain songs always seemed to burrow right into my very soul. Music just carried so much… emotion. I turned on my iPod and set it to shuffle, to play songs at random. The FIRST song that came up was Fallin' For You, by Colbie Caillat. That was almost freaky, because the song was just so… utterly perfect for the situation. The singer's soft voice rang throughout my ears as she sang of exactly how I felt. I was almost skipping on my way home. Everything was beautiful today. I never thought I could have such an amazing day.
"I don't know, but,
I think I may be,
fallin' for you,
dropping so quickly.
Maybe I should,
keep this to myself,
Wait until I know you better.
I am trying not to tell you,
but I want to,
I'm scared of what you'd say,
And so I'm hiding what I'm feeling,
but I'm tired of Holding this inside my head!
I've been spending all my time,
Just thinking about ya.
I don't know what to do.
I think I'm fallin' for you!"
Yeah... I'm sinking even deeper. I think I fall for him more and more every day! You know, I always think he's the absolute cutest when he's being shy. He gets all quiet and his face turns BRIGHT red with blush. Sigh… he's even cuter than a baby… in a bonnet… with a lollipop… that spews rainbows. Yeah, that's pretty adorable!
I reached our dingy old street and greeted some of our neighbors that were outside, and then I finally made my way up our front steps and unlocked the door. Home at last!
"Hi pooch! How was school?" I heard my mom call from the kitchen.
"Hey See's lady!" I said back to greet her. To help keep us financially stable for the time being, my mom had to work two jobs. She worked as a teacher's aide for a Special Ed. class at Old Creek Elementary during the day, and many nights and weekends at See's Candies. So, unfortunately, I don't get to see her as much as I used to. We're always using nicknames for each other, too, and most of the time I call her See's lady. I'm not sure she likes being called that, but hey! She calls me all kinds of weird names too, like 'pooch,' for example! I really love her though. We're really close. She knows just about everything about me, and I know just about everything about her. She'd probably be my best friend, if it weren't for the fact that she's my mom. I kind of want to tell her, you know, about me. We always talk about everything, and I trust her not to freak out. I mean, I think she'd be really accepting. I should… I should do it later tonight. "What are you making?"
"Oh, I thought I'd make up a pot of my sauce so that we can take some to your Grandfather later this week. You know how he likes when I make it. It'd make him happy for us to stop by and bring some. The sauce I'm not bringing will be for us for the next few nights. Think of it as somewhat of a celebration for the release of your book!" She answered.
"Really?!" I asked excitedly. I LOVED my mom's meat sauce, and so did everyone else who's ever tried it, or any of my mom's cooking for that matter. I know that she'd love to open her own little bakery or restaurant someday, but unfortunately, that won't happen any time in the near future. It makes me really sad to see her work herself to death at a job she doesn't even really like, but I admire her for doing what she believes is best for our family. No matter how worn down she gets though, she always manages to keep going. I don't know how she does it, but then again, that's why she's my hero: because she can. "Thanks Mom! You're the BEST!" I said as I gave her a huge hug from behind while she was busy stirring her sauce.
"Hey! Careful! You're welcome! Now let me go!" she begged. I let go of her and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"I love you!"
"I love you too." she said.
"Do you need any help with dinner?" I asked. I always loved helping her whenever I could when it came to cooking. She made it really FUN to cook! We would usually be laughing the whole time. Plus, I'd do anything to make her workload easier. She deserves a good rest.
"No, honey. I'm okay. Why don't you go read or watch TV for a while? We'll eat at…oh…about 5:00. Okay?"
"Okay. Let me know if you need anything." I said, and then turned to head up the stairs and towards my room.
When I walked into my room, I mentally started a countdown. THE countdown. I'd tell her after dinner. I WANT her to know. I'm ready for her to know. In the past, I've given a lot of thought about this, and I really do think it's the best decision. Besides, at this point in my life, I need a strong support network. I think I can find that in her, and in Denika.
Tick. Tock. Tick! Tock! God, my clock is going to drive me insane! When you're counting the time, you probably wouldn't be surprised how long it takes for the ticking of a clock to become annoying. It took all of about two minutes for me to want to suffocate under my own pillow in an attempt to escape the noise! I had that thing crushed up against my ears! My God! Listening to a clock ticking is like chinese water torture or something! It's awful! Okay…just a little bit longer until dinner. What should I say? I mean, how am I just going to say that?! Should I prepare something ahead of time? Maybe I should just wait. Maybe I shouldn't actually do this- at least not yet. No, no I have to do it now, while I have enough courage. Otherwise, I may never do it.
"Okay, honey. Dinner's ready!" my mom yelled from downstairs. I glanced back at the clock. 5:06. Sigh…okay, I can do this. After dinner, I am going to do this. Everything will be fine, and, with that mindset, I eventually decided to get up and go down for supper. "Hey! I fixed you up a plate already. It's over on the table." she said as I walked into the kitchen.
"Okay! Thank you!" I said, and then ran over to the table to eat. Penne with my mom's meat sauce, served with garlic bread and green beans- YUM! "So, how was work today?" I asked as I started digging in.
"Oh, it was okay. The kids weren't too bad today," she said as she sat down across from me. "Brandon wandered away from our class during the friday assembly today, and Mrs. Ball and I had a huge panic attack when we couldn't find him in that big crowd. I swear, they don't pay us enough to deal with those kids sometimes."
"I'm sorry. I still think you should take the C-best to become a substitute teacher. You'd make a great teacher, and that way, you wouldn't have to work in the Special Ed. department anymore!"
"Yeah, maybe this summer. If I did, then I might be able to quit See's," she answered. "How's the pasta?"
"Delicious, as always." I said, and then gave her a warm grin. "So where's Dad?" I asked.
"Oh, he had to make a trip up to L.A. this morning for a business meeting. The clients that he was meeting with needed him to be there tomorrow, too, so he'll be back tomorrow night." she said. Okay, perfect. I'll be able to have this conversation without having to worry about talking to my dad, too. I love him, despite the drinking, but he can be a bit of a homophobe sometimes. I think he'd come around to accept me if he found out, but with our relationship rocky as it is, I think it's best that he doesn't know yet, and I'm sure my mom will understand that. Besides, they hardly talk to each other any more anyway.
The rest of our dinner, we continued to chat away about this and that. I've always loved talking to her. I really miss it sometimes, because I don't get to see her as often as I used to. That's why I'm glad that she finally got time off from See's tonight. When we finally finished our meal, I helped my mom with some of the cleanup by doing the dishes. It was a little bit tedious to have to wash and dry them all by hand because of our stupid, broken dishwasher. My mom finished putting things away from cooking and started walking towards the master bedroom. "I'm going to go watch some of my soaps in my room, hun. Let me know if you need anything or want to watch a movie later. I just need to rest a little for now." Oh crap! Okay… um, I'll give her a couple hours and then I'll talk to her. She needs some time alone, but I do need to talk to her tonight.
After what seemed like ten hours, rather than two, I anxiously neared her door. I took a moment to gather my thoughts and took a deep breath to calm myself down. Here we go- it's now or never.
"Hey Mom?" I asked after I cautiously knocked on her door.
"Can… I come in?" I paused and waited for her answer.
"Sure." she replied. With that, I slowly opened her door and made my way inside. She was laying on her bed and watching TV when I walked in, but when she looked up and saw my expression, she sat up right away and muted her show. "Are you okay?"
"Um…yeah, er…no. No, I'm not. Can I talk to you for a second?" I asked.
"Sure, lovey. What's wrong?" I slithered around to the other side of the bed and took a seat on it next to her. I was literally shaking, and already at the point of tears.
"Mom," I started. "I love you SO much. You're almost like a best friend to me and I feel like I can tell you anything, but I've been having a really hard time telling you this. I love you so much, and the fear of losing you and Dad over this terrifies me. This is actually the most terrifying thing I've ever done in my entire life, but I need to do it because I really need your support, both as a parent AND a friend," I stopped to wipe away a tear from my eye. "Mom, I'm gay."