Speculations of a boy who may be in love... maybe. For the Tickle My Fancy Monthly Contest
|word count: 1833
I kissed him because I was kind of in love with him.
There should be a soft emphasis placed on the words ‘kind of’. Those are the key words to understanding that sentence and this situation. They add the necessary layer of confusion and complication. They are the most important words… next to the word ‘love’ which will always be the most important anything.
Here’s the thing: I’m not gay. Even though I kissed him, even though he’s a guy and I’m a guy, even though he is gay, even though… I’m just not gay.
So here’s another thing. We’re best friends. It’s a state of being that was forced on us when we were little kids. See, our mothers were pregnant at the same time and they lived next door to each other so they made friends. He and I were born less than a day apart from each other (18 hours and 34 minutes to be precise) and we subsequently grew up together.
We took baths together as toddlers and built snowmen together as grade-schoolers. We spent as much time at each other’s house as our own and our parents were never worried when we slept over at one another’s house without calling first. Being best friends came naturally to us as a product of spending so much time together. We shared all the appropriate milestones growing up and there was never really a time when we didn’t share something important together.
We’re different people but we’re less like true opposites and more like two sides of the same coin. We fit together and exist in harmony rather than conflict. Still on some superficial level, we are very different.
He is meek and soft spoken. He’s not popular but neither is he hated. Rather than fitting in nowhere he just barley fits in everywhere. Yet he still eats lunch alone (with me of course). He’s genius level smart and has about a million facts in his head about everything from the mating habits of guinea pigs to the way a micro chip works. He’s socially awkward but sweet enough that he could pull in a girl or two or three easy as anything, which he never does. He’s got an intelligent and dry sense of humor and really I adore every bit of him. Every last bit.
I’m more outgoing and I’m bolder. I'm not nearly as smart but I’m friends with a walking encyclopedia so I am sort of smart simply by osmosis. I’m a writer and a painter and I think of things less literally and more abstractly. I can’t grasp half the things that he can understand but it works in the opposite direction as well. I can see things he’d never dream of seeing in a million years. Maybe that’s why we need each other, to fulfill what we can’t have or do ourselves.
There is a soft emphasis on the 'maybe'.
The thing is, I loved him and I do love him, in a 'maybe-almost-kind-of' way. I didn’t and don't love him like a brother because my association with him, however forced upon when we were younger, was and is always voluntary. In that way he differs from a brother who I am forced to associate with just because we share the same blood. He and I associated because we wanted to.
In a lot of ways--in a million indescribable, indecipherable kinds of way--he and I are kindred spirits. Soul mates. I’m not religious but I’m spiritual and maybe that is why I believe in such things. I loved him in a way I would never be able to love anything or anyone other than him.
But I wasn’t in love.
I think anyway.
He came out to me when we were 14 and he said it just like this: “I’m gay.” I didn’t question him. I merely accepted it as fact because he used his dry, shy little voice that he always used when spouting off pure information.
“Okay,” I told him and that was all I said. I didn’t need to say anymore. I didn’t tell him I would accept him however he was. I didn’t tell him I would help him scope out boys as soon as we were old enough to get into a gay club. I didn’t tell him I would beat up anybody at school whoever messed with him for being gay.
The thing is, I didn’t have to. He knew all that already. I know he did. So I just smiled and hugged him because I realized this was a moment, a milestone, and it needed to be commemorated properly.
And that was that for a long time. Nothing really changed. He was still too smart and far too socially awkward for his own good. He didn’t date, not at all and hardly expressed interest. I started dating myself but it was that foolish kind of kid-dating that involves chaste kisses and holding hands and breakups within in the week. Ultimately I was unwilling to sacrifice him for a girl, even a pretty girl and most girls (certainly all the girls I've dated) seemed to think this was unreasonable.
What they didn’t understand was that there were a million of them in the world and only one of him. So I would choose him every time. I'd be a fool not to.
For a long time we existed as we always did, in peaceful and wonderful brilliance. He was my muse and I would always show him my paintings and my stories featuring his shy smile or his brave heart or something small and insignificant like the way he tucked his hair behind his ear. I think it flattered him. I hope so. He needed the flattery to remind him how absolutely beautiful his very existence was. I think he lost this fact sometimes in the waves of other facts occupying his senses.
For a long time nothing changed. And then something happened, as something always happens. Change is inevitable and looking back I was in wonder how we managed to exist for so long without it. Shakespeare said “it is neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” I feel this way about change. It’s neither fundamentally good nor fundamentally bad. It’s what you do with that change that makes you think one way or the other.
I’m not sure if what I did with our change was good or bad. Maybe both.
Maybe... it just was.
Please put a soft emphasis on all those ‘maybe’s.
Things changed when we lay side by side, late at night, on the bottom of his bunk bed. We had both obtained bunk beds from our parents when it became apparent that such things were a necessity as two growing boys couldn’t cram into one twin sized bed all their lives. The bottom bunk was full sized so our skinny frames fit fine next to each other. We were laying in silence, having little to say and not wanting to ruin the beauty of our silence. But things changed.
“I’m in love with you,” he said, scared and alone, without provocation. I turned to look at him in the dim light. I could see the way the night light (we never had the heart to get rid of it) cast shadows over his face. I could see his eyes, glowing bright where the light hit them. They were young, scared eyes.
He was beautiful. He was always beautiful.
“Okay,” I said gently and I saw his eyes relax and lose their fear. But that fear was replaced by sadness because he heard, like he always heard, all the things I didn’t say.
I didn’t say I wasn’t in love with him. I didn’t say I wasn’t gay. I didn’t say I was going to break his heart. I didn’t need to say any of that. Like always, he could practically read my mind.
The next night I thought about it alone in my room. I thought about what it meant to be in love. I was never in love before and the concept, though not entirely foreign, was like an instruction manual. I knew what it was but I had no practical experience, or so I believed. I was never in love with the girls I dated though I liked them well enough. I wouldn’t do anything at all for them, even though I would make sacrifices. They were okay but I didn’t love them. I certainly wasn't in love with them.
I loved him, I knew that. I had accepted this fact long ago and stored it away in my brain as something that was a constant, like the speed of light. I loved him because he made me laugh and his smile made my heart flutter just a bit. I loved him because I never needed to explain myself or even speak if I did not want to. I loved him because he knew me better than I would ever know myself and I knew him better than he would ever know himself. I loved him because he was my muse and my soul mate.
And maybe I was a little bit in love with him.
There is a predictably soft emphasis on that ‘maybe’.
The next day I looked at him. I tilted my head and he tilted his in the opposite direction. He looked like a slightly inquisitive house pet, a puppy perhaps. His light brown hair curled softly around his face. He just waited for me to say something or do something.
I said nothing.
I did something.
I leaned forward and pressed my lips to his gently. For a long moment the world stopped. Everything besides me and him became completely irrelevant. Everything from the war to breathing became absolutely irrelevant. We kissed chastely, only lips, no tongues. It was soft and dryer then most kisses I had and a little awkward with the way my neck was twisted.
It was very easily the best kiss I had ever had.
Here’s the thing: I’m not gay.
Here’s the other thing: he was my soul mate. He was wonderful and beautiful and charming and sweet. He occupied my thoughts when I was thinking of nothing else. He was my best friend and would remain that way until the end of time.
We broke the kiss and I cracked my neck. He looked at me and smiled. He had a tiny shy smile with closed lips that always reached his eyes and made them shine. “Let’s try this again,” he said in his soft, shy voice that I adored.
“Okay,” I said because it was mostly all I said lately. I kissed him again.
Here’s the thing: I’m still not gay.
I’m just kind of in love with my best friend.
I am in love with my best friend.
There’s a strong emphasis on the word ‘am’.