Hours passed, days passed, weeks passed. The December cold bitterly arrived and the friendship I hoped to rekindle with Damien was still nowhere to be found. It fell off the face of the earth without leaving a trace. The words that escaped his lips still nabbed at my soul just like on the day he told me.
“That’s Lorraine. She’s my girlfriend.”
I buried my head into my pillow, aggravated with myself. Why did I care so much? It’d been an eternity since I’d had an actual conversation with Damien and for some odd reason it bothered me immensely. I couldn’t help but long to get past the “Hi-Bye” awkwardness that was created following the day he introduced me to her. What annoyed me even more was how much they looked to be perfect for each other.
Damien continued to invite me to go out to lunch with him and his girlfriend, but I couldn’t bring myself to go. The first day I went with them, I was only left with broken pieces that couldn’t be put back together the same way you try to put a puzzle together but find out you’re missing a piece. The difference is you could look for and find the missing piece to finish the puzzle. With Damien and me, it was like that piece was thrown out in the garbage, and taken to the incinerator where it could never be found again.
This wall I had put up that kept me from progressing with Damien made me feel worse about myself. I noticed I hadn’t been dressing as well as I had at the beginning of the year, and my self-confidence had pretty much hit an all-time low. I kept coming back to the question, “What does she have that I don’t?” but it was always the same answer; she was a girl of course.
Never had I thought the day would come that I would tell myself I could possibly be gay, and to be honest, I still wouldn’t answer that question bluntly; it’s complicated. I knew I had some sort of feelings for Damien and I knew I hated seeing him with another girl. Admittedly, maybe the only reason I liked him was because of pure jealousy. Nonetheless, there was no way I could show my feelings without knowing how he felt first. The kissing incident was now over and done with, and the reasons I had been looking for so long ago had diminished and turned to dust. There was no hope to find out if he felt the same way, and he probably didn’t seeing as Lorraine seemed to be the love of his life, the apple of his eye; maybe even the shiny new needle he found in the haystack.
The last day before winter break had arrived, and it appeared as though everybody else was more excited than me. Winter break only kept me from having more chances to see Damien, or speak to him even if it was just a small sentence. I walked over to my locker to grab my English book as always when I felt a pat on my back. I quickly turned, and found it to be Abel.
“What’s up!” he yelled loudly as he stepped over to the side to lean on Damien’s locker. Deep down, I had wished it was Damien himself that patted me on the back.
“Meh, nothing much. Just getting my English book.”
He looked down at the floor shaking his head. “Dude, you have got to get out of this funk you’re in. It seems like you’ve been stuck in it for days!”
Ironically, he couldn’t have been more wrong. I had been stuck in it for much, much longer.
“I know, I know. I’ll try to be better about it,” I replied, slamming my locker door shut and turning the other way to begin walking to Miss Baniszewski’s class. Abel continued to walk by my side, talking about random things that happened during his athletic period yesterday, and how everybody was envious of the new guy, Trey, for his impressive athleticism and ability to attract girls of all types.
“You’ve got to see this guy,” Abel said. “He’s a total douchebag!”
“Sure sounds like one,” I droned, not really paying attention to the conversation between him and me. We neared the class quickly, where Miss Baniszewski stood outside greeted kids inattentively as they walked in.
“Hey, do you want to go to Starbucks after school? I feel like you need to unwind a bit; you seem really stressed out lately.”
“Yeah, sure, I guess. It’s been getting pretty cold outside lately so I could use some coffee.”
“Great, you’re driving, I’ll pay!”
I sighed as I watched him scurry off ahead of me into the classroom. As I approached, Miss Baniszewski rolled her eyes at me, as if I had personally offended her.
“On the way in, place your essay on the chair beside my desk,” she directed. I gasped, remembering that I left it on the table by my bed.
“Miss Baniszewski,” I uttered shakily. “Is it alright if I turn it in after school? I totally forgot about…it…”
I could see Damien far down the hallway, slowly making his way toward class. Miss Baniszewski took the time to complain and blab on about the requirements for passing her class and what not, but I didn’t hear a word she said because all of my attention had been devoted toward Damien.
“…and that’s why you will never go to college. Understand?”
“Wait, what?” I asked, being knocked out of my trance.
Miss Baniszewski smiled, each of her stained teeth peeking out of her mouth. “If I don’t get that essay by 4:00 PM, you will be failing this class. Good luck, Mr. Chevalier,” she said hobbling into the classroom. Just then, Damien stopped outside the doorway. He had a puzzled look on his face.
“What was that all about?” he questioned, chuckling.
I shrugged and laughed before walking into the classroom. It felt as though the awkwardness was slowly fading away.
Abel waved me over to the desk behind him, where I always sat. It was slightly secluded from the rest of the classroom because there were some empty desks next to us, but I suppose it was for that very same reason we sat there in the first place. Miss Baniszewski barely paid attention to us, and we barely paid attention to her, so it all worked out in the end.
The bell rang, and Miss Baniszewski practically ran over to close the door to keep anybody from coming in. Normal business as always, that is until there was a knock on the door. I could only make out part of the face through the little window on the door, but from what I saw, the person looked fairly built and well-kept, someone who most likely wasn’t in our class. Miss Baniszewski groaned as she made her way back to the door, surprised at what stood before her as it swung open.
“Well, hello there,” she welcomed, flustered at the sight of the student. He handed her a piece of paper that seemingly had his schedule printed on it. “You’re in my class? Finally somebody smart in here.”
All eyes were on the student. Miss Baniszewski’s body blocked the view from everybody in the class, until she stepped to the side like a curtain slowing opening to reveal a window. I dropped my pencil, amazed by the figure walking into the classroom.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Abel said.
“You know him!?” I shouted. Abel shot an odd glance at me. I regained my composure. “I mean, uh, you know him…?”
“I don’t get why you’re so excited about him, it’s that ass I was telling you about earlier before class.”
The guy walked over to the desk next to me, and put his stuff down as he sat. He appeared to be of Asian descent, and his short dark brown hair was messily swooped to the side as if he just ran a mile. He began to pull his hoodie branded with Abercrombie & Fitch off to reveal a polo of the same brand securing a rather intimidating set of muscles. The way the whole event played out was pretty cliché, almost as if it was out of some bad teen chick flick, but I secretly jumped up and down in my head, playing it cool when he turned to talk to me.
“Hi,” he cheerfully said as he flashed a smile. “I’m Trey.”
I could hear Abel mocking him as he turned back around in his seat to face the board. I practically melted. It seemed like everything about him was perfect. His eyes were a nice honey brown, and his face masculine yet had a slight feminine quality to it. He was the most beautiful guy I’d ever seen.
“N-nice to meet you, Trey! I-I’m Sebastian, but you can just c-call me Seb!”
I struggled with my words as I gave a crooked smile and extended my hand out. He shook his head no, and instead bowed slowly in his seat. I gave him a blank stare, confused at what he had just done.
“I don’t shake hands, I’m Korean.”
A feeling of stupidity came over me. “Oh, right…”
He softly laughed, Miss Baniszewski’s voice echoing in the background as she taught the class.
“I was just joking,” he assured me, glancing between what Miss Baniszewski wrote on the board and back at me. It looked as though he was trying to find something else to say. “She seems like a pretty nice teacher.”
“Ha!” I scoffed obnoxiously. Miss Baniszewski’s head slowly turned as her beaming eyes met mine and she stopped writing on the board.
“Want to tell me what’s so funny back there, Mr. Chevalier?”
“Then I suggest you shut your mouth, and pay attention.”
On any other day, I’d be irritated with her, but Trey’s smile as he looked over at me happened to make me smile back and feel shameless. I decided to pay attention for the rest of class when the bell rang soon after. The class emptied fast as Miss Baniszewski scrambled around her desk looking for some sort of assignment she wanted to hand out to us.
“Wait! Don’t leave until I hand you your homework!”
Regardless, everyone left, and I purposefully took my time in order to leave with Trey. I could see Abel walk over to Damien’s desk before leaving the room, and as Damien followed, he turned to look back at me before making his way out. I couldn’t really tell what he was thinking, but for some reason, I didn’t care so much. It felt a lot better knowing Trey was somehow helping me get my mind off of Damien.
“Are you waiting for me?” he asked, shoving the last of his papers into his binder before tossing it into his backpack. “I’m kinda shocked.”
I tilted my head, puzzled. “Why?”
He chuckled. “Why? If you haven’t noticed, I’m not exactly the most liked by the other guys here.”
I smiled as we both strolled along side by side out of the classroom and into the hallway. “Well, if it makes you feel better,” I began, “I don’t think you’re all that bad at all. In fact, my friend and I are going to hang out at Starbucks after school since we don’t really have anything better to do. You can come if you want.”
It was the first time in a while I had done something so mindlessly and impulsively that I was astonished with myself. Trey seemed to be surprised too as he glanced at me. “As lame as this sounds, I don’t have a car, so I couldn’t go even if I wanted to, and—“
“It’s fine, you can ride with me if you want.”
‘Sebastian, there you go again,’ I told myself. I couldn’t stop myself. The way he was slightly insecure of himself came out in his voice as he talked to me, almost as if it were a plea of some sort, and I was to take him under my wing… or under my umbrella, so to speak since he was quite a bit taller and buffer than me.
“Why are you being so nice to me?” he questioned. “I mean, it’s not that I don’t like it, I just...”
We came to a crossroads in the hallways where we had to split. He stopped speaking as I hopefully smiled and described my car before telling him to meet me by it after school, swiftly turning and making my way to my Pre-Calculus class without saying another word.
The school day went by slowly, but mostly because my head was full of thoughts, all including Trey. They weren’t dirty, in fact, most remained pure. Trey was a pure guy in my eyes, even though I barely knew him. I couldn’t help but anticipate what the rest of the day would bring.
The clock struck 3:45 and the bell to end the school day rang loudly, as everyone filed out of the building fast to escape the traffic. As I made my way out, Abel hastily stopped me at the door.
I sighed. “I didn’t forget, I’m going there right now.”
“No, it’s not that…”
He looked nervous as he rubbed his clammy palms together, sliding his jacket on and staring at the ground, specifically at my shoes.
“Damien wants to go to Starbucks with us. I hope you’re not angry.”
He proceeded to push the door open and run far away, into the distance before I could say anything. I was emotionally frustrated, and didn’t really want to deal with the feelings I had for Damien at the moment. He only made me stressed, and bringing Trey to the Starbucks hangout would only be a disaster since I knew Abel was not very fond of Trey. Knowing Damien is good friends with Abel, I could reasonably assume Damien is not Trey’s biggest fan either.
Thinking of a plan, I began to walk over to the student parking lot before checking the time on my phone. It was 4:00. Where had the time gone? I could only hope that Trey would still be waiting for me by my car. Sure enough, as I neared it, I could see him leaning against the passenger’s side, reading from a book.
“Hey,” I said approaching him. “Sorry I took so long to get out.”
“It’s no problem!” he said, closing his book and placing it into his backpack.
“Listen…” I said. “I was thinking that maybe we could hang out in my house instead? It’s pretty cold outside, so Starbucks will probably be packed.”
“Oh, yeah, I got ya. It’s cool with me.”
I pressed the switch on my car keys to unlock the doors, stepping into my car, turning it on, and hoisting my backpack into the back seat. Trey sat shaking as I backed out of the parking lot and made my way onto the streets.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“I’m alright, I’m good.”
“I have the heater on, but it might take a bit to kick in. Sorry about that.”
“Don’t worry,” he assured me.
The drive back home seemed extremely long, plagued by the sustained awkward silences that filled the car as neither of us said anything. I pushed the button to change radio stations but a word did not come out of him, or me.
Thankfully, before things got even more perplexing, I quickly turned onto my street, which pulled a small gasp from Trey.
“You live in this neighborhood?” he asked in awe.
“Yeah, I do.”
It was pretty interesting how humble and even slightly embarrassed I felt when he asked me that question. I could tell I was beginning to change loads more from my old New York self. I didn’t think much of it, however.
We both stepped out of the car, and I lead him into my house. I couldn’t help but remember the day Damien came over, but it quickly escaped my mind as I thought of Trey. It was refreshing to have someone less bombastic and gentler like Trey roam around and take care into looking at every picture that hanged along the walls of my house. I felt as though he cared much more when asked questions about my family and where we previously lived. We eventually made our way upstairs to the study, where he sat in a chair opposite the loveseat I lay in, looking out the window.
I stared at the ceiling, occasionally switching back and forth between it and Trey. There was no T.V., no music, and yet he didn’t seem to mind. It was nice. I noticed him get up to look at the books in the bookcase, and as he did, my broken phone began to vibrate in my pocket. I pulled it out, observing the two missed calls from Abel, one from Damien, and a text from Monica saying how she wants to hang out over the weekend. I turned it off, and placed it on the table beside me. For some reason, I didn’t really care about those other things. The time I was spending with Trey made me feel at ease, and I didn’t want anything to take that away from me. He softly sang as he flipped through a book he pulled from the shelf, sitting across from me yet again. I couldn’t help but feel as though we had some type of bond, even though we had not known each other for more than a day.
I yawned as a couple of minutes passed, without a word, but just the soft turning of book pages. My eyes slowly shut before I heard a book closed and placed back on the shelf. I peeked out one eye to find Trey sneaking up on me, and then he began to tickle me.
“Stop! Stop!” I demanded through uncontrollable laughter. “I will kill you!”
He couldn’t stop laughing, and turned to run around the end table I placed my phone on, which also contained a lamp and a picture. I bounced up, attempting to chase after him but knocking over the lamp and picture in the process. The lamp was fine, but the glass part of the picture frame that held it shattered. He continued to run around before stepping on a glass shard, loudly shouting before hobbling his way over to the loveseat.
“Ow! Jesus Christ, that does not feel great at all.”
“Well, that does not look good,” I said crouching down to look at his foot. “I’m sorry, I should have said something.”
“It’s not your fault,” he said snickering. “I was the one who kept running like a fool.”
“Do you need some help getting that thing out?”
“Nah, I can do it.”
He proceeded to tug at the shard, slowly sliding it out bit by bit. I couldn’t watch, so I decided to just sweep up the pieces on the floor and throw them into the trash can. I was just glad my parents were working and not home to see or hear the incident. I walked over to the bathroom to find some gauze, disinfectant, and a small washcloth for Trey before heading back over to hand it to him. Blood seeped from the wound as he held his hand over it. He held the shard in his other hand as I took it and threw it in the bin.
“Gosh, that thing freaking mutilated your foot.”
“It’s just a scratch, I’ll be okay.”
He took the things I brought for him from my hands and began to clean it, as I picked the picture and lamp from off the floor. I threw the picture back onto the table and took a seat next to him.
“Do you need help with that?”
He glanced over at the picture on the end table before making a double take. “No, no, it’s fine, don’t worry. What date is this picture from?”
I stood back up to look at it, flipping it back over to find nothing. “Eh, I’m not sure. I know it was a couple of years ago, when I was around twelve. I went to some summer camp in Maryland and we took a group picture. This was my cabin.”
He snatched the picture from me, and looked at the front of it before sheepishly grinning. “Look at the right side,” he said.
I sat back down next to him and examined the right side to find a small Asian boy cheekily smiling into the camera. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“So wait, we went to the same summer camp? And we were in the same cabin?”
“I guess so!” he exclaimed.
I grew even more excited. This bond I felt earlier; I knew it wasn’t just for any reason. Trey was someone I had a connection with before. “How come I didn’t realize sooner?”
It was an obvious answer however. Trey had grown up pretty well over the years, so it was perfectly plausible that he wasn’t recognizable.
“Well, I felt like I knew you from somewhere, but I didn’t want to seem weird and I couldn’t remember from where.” He scooted closer to me as he finished tying off the remaining gauze and placed the rest of the roll onto the table. “So it is you, Sebastian Chevalier, the sneaky guy who would run around stealing everybody’s clothes.”
I chuckled. “Oh, those were the days,” I reminisced as if it had been years ago. I got up and walked over to my room as I motioned for Trey to follow. Walking into the room, I closed the door just in case my parents got home and could hear someone else. He slowly stepped over and sat next to me on my bed as I searched for my old summer camp book full of pictures. We spent hours looking into it and talking about it for what felt like forever, about all the little memories of cutting girl’s hair off, and camping in the woods, and roasting marshmallows, and fishing in the lake; the usual stuff. It was great to finally be able to find someone who had shared those moments with me. Summer camp had held a special place in my heart because it was the time I got to escape from all the problems I suffered from before.
Trey seemed to be equally as ecstatic, and it made me happy that he was able to turn into a totally different person than he had been earlier in the day. I felt like he was much less reserved and more open about everything and it made me feel a lot more comfortable having him around in the house. Eventually, we ran out of things to talk about from summer camp and the conversation died a little. He looked at the carpet, and gently rested his other foot on the bed. I was afraid that if I let the conversation dwindle completely, he would leave, so I was desperate for anything to fall out of my mouth.
“How did you get to be so buff?”
‘Seriously Sebastian?’ I thought to myself. I wasn’t quite sure what kind of question was that. Trey found it funny, however.
“Truth is, in middle school I started feeling pretty awful about myself. In general terms, I was a twig, and was tired of being one, so I started working out every day, and even joined the wrestling team. I found deep down it didn’t really make me feel any better though. It got more people to talk to me, but I knew that they never would have had I stayed the old ‘me’.”
I looked at Trey as he still stared at the carpet. I slowly lifted my hand and placed it on his shoulder as if it had called for me. “If you ever need anything, I’m here for you buddy.”
He turned up to look at me before resting his hand upon my chin. Shocked, I reached for his arm, and gently grasped it. He slowly lowered me onto my back until my head rested against the pillow. He then deeply kissed me, and while I tried to resist, I naturally accepted it as well. I let go of his arm and placed it around his neck as he lay on his side, arching over me like a fortress.
“Trey…you’re like this?”
He was startled. “I’m not sure, it just seems right.”
I pulled him in for another kiss, and before I knew it, we began to make out. My body began to feel very hot, and I starting feeling very flustered. His hand followed the curvature of my body until it got around my hip, and my eyes began to close as I was encased in the heat of the moment. I could smell his sweet scent as he kissed along my neck, and I reached for the bottom of his shirt slowly lifting it up and over his head.
There was no turning back now.