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Excerpt for Wish by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Wish

By Georgia Tell











Copyright © 2018 by Georgia Tell


This is a work of fiction. The characters and events described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or to living persons alive or dead. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written permission of the publisher except for brief quotations embodied in critical reviews.


ISBN 978-0-9995788-3-4


Published by Blue Hair Books


Visit author’s website: www.GeorgiaTell.com

Follow author on Twitter: @GeorgiaTell
















I remembered the exact moment when I realized it, and I was scared out of my wits. Last spring break, I slept over at Tanner’s house. We finally decided to go to sleep at 3:00 am, but I had to piss. When I came back from the bathroom, he was sleeping like a log. There was only a little light from the hallway shining in, and I stood staring in amazement at how his dark skin contrasted so sharply with his white bed sheets. I’d stared before, but that night my heart woke up. I lay down on my makeshift bed and wasn’t able to sleep, because it seemed like needles were stabbing my back. My face felt so hot. That night was burned into my memory.

Truth was, I was in love with my best friend. I didn’t know if this meant that I was gay, but I was sure that I loved him.


~


Tanner bounced his soccer ball on his knees and grinned with all of his teeth showing. He seemed so much happier than usual.

I sat with my back to the chain link fence with my legs splayed out. I emptied my water bottle and closed my eyes.

“So, I asked Tess out,” He said it so nonchalantly that I couldn’t guess what her answer had been.

I decided to prolong the answer, because either way I’d be upset. “Hot Tess or nerd Tess?”

Tanner laughed and caught the soccer ball, stowing it carefully between his forearm and hip. “Dude, do you think I have a four-eyes fetish or something?”

I shrugged and smiled. “I don’t know, maybe. You have a thing for that Mrs. Polacki. She wears the most outlandish glasses.”

“Brady, have you looked at her tits? My god, a guy could drown in those...” He was a breast man obviously, but he liked asses equally, so I didn’t know. I’d never understood it. “Anyway, hot Tess and I are going to homecoming together.”

I nodded. It was hard to do much else when it felt like my heart was seizing.

“So, are you gonna ask anyone? I’ll put in a good word for you. Bridget’s into you,” he said.

I shook my head.

“Dude, people are gonna think you’re a fag or something.”

My stomach tightened, and I tried not to panic. I sincerely hoped that I wasn’t gay. I wished with all my heart that Tanner would be the only one ever, and that when I was over him, it’d be girls all the way.

Tanner looked at me in such an inquisitive way that I thought perhaps he was trying to decide if I really was gay.

I suddenly began to wrack my brain for a response that wouldn’t imply homosexuality. Too much defense or offense would be a red light. So, I went for nonchalance. I shrugged and grinned up at him. “Hey, the chicks are all over the gays.”

Tanner laughed and began bouncing the ball on his knees again. He did it so effortlessly, but I knew that it was much more skillful than he made it appear.

We went and changed in the locker room when Tanner got bored. The rest of the soccer team had already gone home, and it was eerily silent. The air reverberated, with every sound that we made bouncing off the gray-brown metal lockers lining the walls.

I pulled my gym shirt off and slid into my normal shirt. I followed the same procedure for my pants. I purposely looked away from Tanner. I think if I saw him half-naked, I wouldn’t be able to stop staring.

He made it hard to not look at him though. He stripped off all his clothes and complimented himself. He implored me to look. He was very childish in that way. While I was acutely aware of my body and hiding it, he would probably be a streaker if he thought he could get some girls with it. Hell, he’d be a nudist just for the fun of it.

After we were fully clothed again, he hung on my shoulder and yelled that he wanted food. We went to a pizza place just down the street from the school. Kids at school suspected that the old man who owned the place was a student’s grandpa or something, because if we showed our school IDs, we would get 20% off.

Tanner draped his arms over the red cracked upholstery of the bench seat across from mine. We talked mainly about girls while waiting for the pizza -- or rather he talked and I listened. He groaned about the soccer finals, saying that the coach was pushing us too hard.

When I was about to take my first bite of the pizza, I noticed that someone was standing right at the edge of our table. It was Flynn Red: rumored to be from a totally loaded family, moderately popular, shorter than me, but taller than Tanner – the differences were all negligible though. Tanner seemed to have an intense hatred of the guy, so I guess that kind of rubbed off on me.

I glared up at him, though not with much intensity or anything. I couldn’t find anything objectively wrong with the guy, just that he irked Tanner and me as a result.

He seemed offended that I wasn’t overflowing with joy that he was there, but he still smiled. That sort of polite smile suited his country club outfit which consisted of a light green polo shirt and beige khakis.

“What’s up?” Tanner asked. He was focusing on his pizza with a sort of distracted fascination.

“Hello, Brady. Hello, Tanner,” Flynn said, smiling.

“Hello,” I said. I wished he would just go away.

“Can I sit? I can pitch in for the pizza.”

Tanner shrugged. Tanner wasn’t so childish to start a fight over nothing. But when neither me nor Tanner moved to accommodate Flynn, Tanner threw me a death stare saying that I better move, because he wasn’t, under any circumstances, going to sit next to the student government “fun” coordinator.

We three chomped down on the pizza for what seemed like a full minute before Tanner asked Flynn, “So, is there something you want?”

Flynn slowly swallowed the pizza in his mouth. He shook his head. “Mmm, not really.” He looked at Tanner for a long second, then grinned at me. “I just get the feeling that you guys don’t like me.”

Tanner raised his eyebrows. “No shit, Sherlock.”

“Why? Did I do something?” He asked it so earnestly that I felt just a tiny pang of guilt. But then he smiled, and his sincerity was lost.

“Dude, you’re just a bastard, and we don’t like bastards.”

Flynn squinted. He reached for the parmesan shaker and took three eons to get the right amount of parmesan on his greasy slice. “How do I not be a bastard then?”

Tanner let out a slow, long breath, matching Flynn’s dawdling pace. “I don’t know? Maybe not act like you’re better than us all the time.”

To be fair, I didn’t actually notice that Flynn acted that way. I mean, he was a tad aloof and distant, but it didn’t actually seem like he had an attitude or anything. Then again, I rarely paid anyone attention but Tanner. It sounded so cliché, but he consumed me. I loved watching him do anything. From sleeping, to struggling over our math homework, to brushing his teeth (usually teeth-brushing is ugly, but not when Tanner does it), to slouching in class.

It was not like I derived a sexual pleasure from watching him, though once I had gotten... hard while playing a game of one-on-one soccer with him. He’d been shirtless, and I’d had to feign nausea so I could go home right away. I knew it sounded disgusting and wrong that I had such reactions and feelings, but I did. It was not all so sexual and impure, but some was, so I couldn’t claim it was a type of brotherly love. I wondered if this was what Tanner felt when he was lusting after a girl. I wondered if adults felt like this. Or if this was something completely twisted, mangled, and of my own creation.

I snapped back to the moment, realizing that I was fixated on the tension in Tanner’s arms.

“Okay,” Flynn said it with concrete determination.

“Okay, you can go away now,” Tanner said behind gritted teeth.

Flynn looked surprised.

“What?” Tanner asked. “Did you think that we were suddenly gonna be friends or something?”

Flynn made a face and tilted his head to the side. “Well... kinda.”

Tanner chuckled. “Why do you even wanna be friends in the first place?”

Flynn shrugged. “‘Cause I want to be.”

“Bullshit,” Tanner said, setting his slice of pizza down on his plate.

“Believe what you want. I really do want to be friends with you. I hate to be hated, especially when there’s no good reason.” When he said it, I felt left out. It felt like Flynn wasn’t including me in the “you.” I mean, I didn’t want to be chummy with the guy, but, god, he didn’t have to just completely disregard me. Tanner and I were best friends after all. Was he trying to be Tanner’s best friend? The thought stuck in my throat.

“Okay, you want to be friends? Then, you have to serve me hand and foot for a week,” Tanner said. He added a triumphant smile, like he’d figured out some puzzle. The boyishness made a smile grow on my face.

Flynn shook his head. “I won’t do that. I’d basically be a subordinate. That’s not friendship.”


~


I don’t really know how we ended up sitting in my living room. Those two bickered like little children. Apparently, neither was the type to give in even a little. I felt so left out. When I went to get myself water, both piped in that they were thirsty. I felt like a goddamn housewife delivering Crush soda for her son and his friends.

Despite Tanner’s seeming indifference, he was completely intrigued by Flynn’s unyielding attitude. He sat on the tightly woven carpet with his back to the couch and his arms stretched over the brown seat cushions.

Flynn sat with his legs crossed in the middle of the room in front of the fireplace where my mom had stashed a cityscape of beige candles.

I set the glasses down next to them, but Flynn grabbed his before I let it go and our fingers touched. He looked at me.

Was he challenging me to fight back against him? He had to know he was bargaining for my position. Or perhaps I was judging him too harshly. Maybe, he was just trying to apologize for leaving me out of this. After all, it was very much like the Yalta Conference that had learned about in history class the previous week. Flynn was the Soviet Union represented by Stalin. Tanner was the US represented by Roosevelt. And I? I was France represented just a little by Roosevelt and Churchill. Sure, I’d get a piece of the pie, but I wouldn’t be top-dog. I wasn’t even enough to be Churchill. The tiny concession that Flynn was giving me was like a slap in the face, I determined.

I did a very petty thing that I immediately regretted. I knocked his glass of water all over him. It was very childish.

I mumbled like I was apologizing, but I didn’t actually say sorry.

Flynn laughed and just asked for a towel.

His relaxed reaction just made me angrier. When I came back with the towel, I pushed him out of the way and dried the carpet before handing him the damp towel.

I wondered if Tanner saw how intentionally mean I was being. Would he approve because he hated Flynn? Or had Flynn already won him over?

The debate continued like nothing happened, except Flynn shivered. I don’t think Tanner noticed it, because Flynn was obviously hiding it. When negotiating, weakness is a curse.

“Dude,” Tanner said. “Why should I even make an effort if I’ve got nothing but your so-called ‘friendship’ to gain?”

“Friendship is something precious to be gained. You’ll learn once we’re friends,” Flynn said with way too much sweetness to be sincere.

“What about Brady?” Tanner asked suddenly.

I jolted to attention. It was the first time I was mentioned. Why did it take so long?

Flynn smiled slowly. “What about Brady?”

“Are you forgetting that me and him are best friends?”

“No, I assumed you were speaking for him.”

What? Now I couldn’t even speak for myself? I opened my mouth to say something, but no words came out.

I really couldn’t speak for myself. My chest tightened. I was essentially useless.

They both turned to me and waited for me to say something. So, I spoked the gay, pushover truth. “Whatever is fine with Tanner is fine with me.” I felt ashamed of myself, too much of a coward to actually state my opinion.

And negotiations continued without me. I had my chance, and I squandered it.

What was ultimately decided? A trial period. Honest to god.


~


The next morning at school Flynn fell in step with me and Tanner after the bell rang. We had class together, but this was the first time that I really noticed anyone else’s presence except Tanner’s. They were making jokes when the teacher wasn’t paying attention, and I wished that my eyes could launch daggers.

At lunch, Flynn flagged us down. He introduced us to his friends. He must have been a total player or something, because they were all girls from ASB. Dawn Reading was sophomore representative and a forward on the girl’s soccer team. How I knew so much about her? She told me when she introduced herself. There was also Polly Jihal, Quinn Jacobson and Noor Vesich. I didn’t bother to try to remember their names. I hoped Flynn would trip himself up and piss off Tanner, and we wouldn’t have further interaction.

Tanner flirted with them like he wasn’t going to homecoming with Tess. Flynn leaned against Quinn. I guessed they were together.

Dawn, though, sat across from me at the green plastic coated mesh table. I threw her my most pleasant smile and went back to eating.

“So, you’re... ?”

“Brady Thomsen.”

“You’re a quiet one, huh?”

“Yeah, I guess I am.” Actually, I was still mad at myself for not speaking up the night before.

“I like quiet boys.” She giggled.

It made me want to grind rocks into my ears. I just wanted to be alone with Tanner. I forced a laugh. She was hinting, obviously. I did my best to deflect. “Well, you wouldn’t like Tanner, then. But I still think you should give him a try.” What the hell was I saying? I had no clue. I just wanted to be away from all these people.

She gave me a little laugh, but it was obvious she was confused. I didn’t think I was all that confusing. I basically told her that she shouldn’t let his talkativeness deter her. She suddenly grinned wide though. “You two are really close, aren’t you?” The way she was asking the questions was like she was talking to a kindergartener.

“Yeah.” Finally, an answer I didn’t have to think about. I smiled in the hope that I could encourage more talking about Tanner.

“Wanna go on a date with me?” she asked it so easily and suddenly. It was more like she was asking if I could pick her pencil up or something. No anticipation, no anxiety.

I stared at her for a long moment. “Uh, n-no, no thank you––”

“Dude, what’s your problem?” Tanner was there; he’d heard. I knew he wouldn’t let me refuse. He probably thought that Dawn was hot, but of course, he also had no idea that I had absolutely no interest in her. I’d rather be single.

“When?” I asked.

Dawn looked from Tanner to me. “Tonight, meet me at Chili’s at eight.”

“I --” What did I want to say? I had no clue. “Okay. I’ll be there.”


~


Tanner was so excited for me. He wouldn’t stop bugging me about it when we changed out of our soccer clothes that afternoon.

“Dude, finally. I mean, I’m glad there was a girl ballsy enough, because man, you’d’ve been labeled a dateless wonder or some other shit. Why were you going to say no?”

The blood rushed to my face. I obviously couldn’t tell him the real reason, but I could hedge it a bit. “I don’t really like her. She’s got small tits.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers.”

“I’m not a beggar.”

“Dude, you’re a virgin who’s never even been on a date. And it’s not even like you’re a Mormon or anything.”

I didn’t have any sort of reasonable response for that, so I stuck with the one-size-fits-all comeback. “I don’t care.”

“Yeah, doesn’t matter if you don’t care. People will start saying… stuff.”

Stuff like what? I was gay? Yeah, before I knew, everyone else would know -- or at least think they knew. Tanner was right, but I still didn’t want to go on a date with someone I didn’t like.


~


When I went back to my dark house alone that afternoon, I didn’t turn on any lights or open the blinds. I took a shower in the dark, and I masturbated letting the water wash everything away. I felt dirtier after, because I’d thought about Tanner while doing it. It felt wrong, like it always did, but, like always, I didn’t stop myself.


~


Waiting outside the Chili’s in the mid-October chill, I wished I’d brought a jacket. Couples and families were inside enjoying themselves. I secretly came up with an impossible wish: that I’d one day sit next to Tanner and talk and laugh at Chili’s while on a date with him.

Dawn arrived. She looked pretty. Not made up as much as I’d expect on a first date, but I told her she looked beautiful. She didn’t seem at all happy when I said that.

“Ready to go inside?” I asked, hoping that she’d say yes. I needed to warm up.

“No, we’ve still got to wait for Quinn and Flynn,” she said. “Ha, it rhymes.”

“I thought we were going on a date,” I said, panic swelled in my whole body. Even though I didn’t want to go on a date with Dawn, I really didn’t want to see Flynn.

“Yeah, a double date.”

Flynn and Quinn arrived together. They suited each other. They both had insanely dark (but not black) hair. They also looked like the types to shop at American Eagle, Hollister, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

“Hi,” Flynn said smiling brightly at me. He looked so excited that I figured he’d just gotten laid -- or would be soon.

“Hi.” It was impossible to hide my disappointment. I didn’t even bother.

Flynn exchanged looks with Quinn and Dawn that I didn’t understand. I felt so alone and suggested we go inside so that at least my loneliness would be masked by the noise of the restaurant.

At the booth, I sat next to Dawn and across from Flynn. And as soon as the food was ordered, the two girls launched into a lengthy discussion about something ASB-related, leaving me helpless. Flynn smiled at me.

I tried to smile. “So, is this what normally happens?” I indicated the chatterbox girls next to us.

He shrugged. “Sure, yeah, I guess.”

I leaned on the table with my elbows, exactly the opposite of what my mom always taught. “So,” I said struggling to come up with something to talk about. “You’re in ASB.”

“Yeah, we all are.”

“Is it fun?” I had nothing else to say, and it was so painfully obvious. I told myself that I should just go home.

“Yeah.”

Well, thanks Flynn. Way to make my topic fall flat on its face. It only reinforced the idea I should go home.

“So, what do you and Tanner do for fun?” he asked.

I shrugged and tried not to glare at him. He was fishing for information on how to get in between Tanner and me? So, I started with the most inappropriate thing to mention. “We watch porn.” It was kind of true. He couldn’t watch at home, because he had little sisters, and his mom was home all the time. He’d bring a movie from his Dad’s secret stash to my house, because my mom was never home. We watched together a few times, but I don’t think either of us wanted me there. I didn’t want to watch, and Tanner wanted to be “alone.” Mostly, I’d go do some “stupid homework that the teacher assigned last minute,” which was actually me sitting alone trying to pretend that I wasn’t imagining Tanner touching himself.

My statement got everyone’s attention. The girls shot these death stares at me. Flynn seemed surprised, but he grinned. “Well... sounds like fun.” He didn’t sound enthused -- unless he was acting for Quinn’s sake.

I was actually happy about this. Maybe he was the one other guy on the planet that didn’t particularly like porn. Unfortunately, he was probably having sex with Quinn all the time, so we probably didn’t really have all that much in common. But maybe I was wrong about him.

When I ate, I minded my manners as much as possible, but Flynn kept looking at me. I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. I bet I looked like a robot chomping down on a messy burger.

Quinn and Dawn seemed like they couldn’t have cared less that they were on a date with us. Dating was worse than I thought. They didn’t even make an effort to include me. It’s not like I wanted attention, but it felt like they were doing it on purpose. Wasn’t Dawn the one who asked me? Was this “playing hard to get”? I didn’t like it.

Flynn was my only option for any sort of conversation, though it was awkward since he was trying to take my best friend from me. “So, how long have you and Quinn been together?”

He shrugged. I looked at Quinn, because I thought she might be upset that he cared so little about their relationship. She didn’t even flinch or let on that she saw his response. Did they have some sort of open relationship?

When the bill came, I reached for it, but Flynn got to it first. I glared at him and waited for him to let me add money for what Dawn and I ate. I opened it, and he had put money in for the meal in full. I put my share in and handed his back to him. It made me so angry that he thought I was so poor that I couldn’t afford a meal. He was looking down on me, and he probably thought he was being nice. I understood why Tanner didn’t like him.

He didn’t say anything or make a ruckus. He just took what I handed him and put it away.

We all made our way out of the restaurant past the overly friendly hostess dressed in all-black to the teeth-chattering cold outside. Dawn and Quinn both agreed that they wanted to go to the park and mess around on the jungle gym.

As we walked there, Dawn didn’t walk next to me. She sped up, so did Quinn. It didn’t even seem like Dawn wanted to be a date with me. I didn’t hurry to catch them, neither did Flynn. We ended following them about ten feet behind. It also most seemed like we were walking a pair of dogs.

“Girls are annoying,” I told Flynn.

He didn’t say anything.

Did he not agree with me? I guess not. “I don’t mean in general. I’m sure Quinn’s not annoying, but just right now. It’s not at all what I thought a date would be.” It was the first statement that came out easy this whole evening.

“You’ve never been on a date?”

I tried to laugh it off. “No, I haven’t.”

“Why not?”

“The person I like will never go out with me,” I blurted out suddenly. I couldn’t see his face, and I was glad. That was way too obvious of a statement.

Flynn didn’t act like Tanner would have. Tanner would have wrapped his arm around my neck in a faux headlock and given me a noogie or some other such gesture of endearment and forced me to spill the beans. Flynn said simply, “It’s Tanner, isn’t it?”

I think I went into cardiac arrest right then. I suddenly felt lost, and my eyes saw little spots of black. “N-n-n, no,” I said hurriedly. “I’m n-n-not gay.” I felt like a complete liar, even though I wasn’t assured of my second statement either way. It seemed wrong to deny it outright. Of course, that seemed to prove that I was gay.

He didn’t say anything.

Oh god, I was as obvious as I feared. In three hours, everyone at school would know. And worst of all, Tanner would hate me.

We got to the jungle gym, and we all sat cross-legged on the plastic-coated platform after the girls ran around a few minutes screaming and sliding on the slides.

I sat as far from Flynn as I could politely do. He stared at me, and I knew he was thinking how faggy I was. I silently begged him not to say anything, though I didn’t have any faith. I should’ve just gone home to be in misery alone at least, but it felt like that would make it more obvious.

I grabbed my knees, pulled them to my chest and hid my shameful face from them. I sat there for a long time letting the cold air pervade my body. The girls didn’t stop talking. I didn’t expect or want them to. If they saw something was wrong, they might ask, and I apparently couldn’t trust myself.

I didn’t move for a very long, long time, but I had to break because my fingers felt frozen solid. I shivered to warm up.

A hand pushed itself under my nose holding a jacket. I looked at Flynn. He was offering me his jacket even after I purposely made him freeze at my house. Did he think I was weak? He thought I was gay and couldn’t stand a little cold. Was he trying to prove that he was better than me? That he could forgive me for my slight while I was just some petty fag? I refused the jacket.

Flynn shook his jacket. “C’mon, you look like you’re going to die or something.”

I looked up at him and shook my head.

He dropped his jacket in front of me, and we both suffered.


~


Saturday, I hung out with Tanner. We went to the school’s soccer field and dribbled the ball around.

“So, how’d it go with Dawn?” Tanner asked me, looking really excited for me. Maybe Flynn hadn’t already told everyone in the school; maybe he wasn’t such a bastard after all.

“Like shit,” I answered honestly. I was already such a liar that I shouldn’t compound the issue.

“Wha––why?”

“It was a double date with Flynn and Quinn, and the girls just completely ignored me.”

“You’ve got to make them pay attention to you, Brady,” he said. He lifted his sleeve and flexed. “Like this. Let the ladies know how you’ll protect them.” He laughed at himself. “It gets me all the babes.”

I shook my head but smiled. Tanner always knew how to cheer me up.

He laughed. “Hey, watch this.” He did a handstand. His shirt fell, and I saw the edges of his boxers and his chest. My breath caught in my throat. I looked away.

When Tanner was back on his feet, he grumbled, “You didn’t look.”

“I looked. It was good. I wish I could do it.” My response was clipped. I knew it sounded like I was trying to cover up the fact that I had been leering. I hid my face by examining the sparse grass miraculously growing through the compacted earth. It was a flimsy cover for my embarrassment.

He didn’t look satisfied but didn’t say anything, because his phone started ringing.

“Hello?... Oh, hi... Uh, no, me ‘n Brady are at school... Well, yeah, practice doesn’t end just because it’s not a school day... Man, Brady can’t afford that, and it’s pushing it for me... Well, think of something better... I don’t know. You’re the one who wants to hang out... Fine. Bye.” Despite Tanner’s increased respect for Flynn’s negotiation skills, the kid still got under his skin.

Tanner and I messed around for long time just laughing and swearing. I was glad for the tiny normalness this easiness represented.

When I saw Flynn walking toward us, fear gripped my stomach. Please, don’t say anything. Please, don’t know anything. Please, let me have denied it convincingly enough.

He smiled at both of us. “Hi, guys.”

“Hi, fag,” Tanner said annoyed.

“How’s it going?” Flynn said like he hadn’t heard. That guy could deflect anything.

“Very shitty since you came,” Tanner admitted.

Flynn came over to Tanner and slung his arm over Tanner’s shoulders, like Tanner always did to me except Flynn seemed full of malcontent. “Now, we’re friends. Don’t be so rude to one of your best buddies.”

Tanner shook him off. He grabbed his soccer ball and started dribbling it around.

Flynn looked up at the cloudless sky, then at me. “I couldn’t think of anything specific, so I thought we could just hang out,” he said.

“You’re really creepy,” Tanner said. “You’re trying too hard.”

Flynn shrugged. He smiled at me when Tanner had his back turned. He was thinking of my fagginess, wasn’t he? Trying to give some crappy smile that was supposed to make me feel comfortable and safe until wham! he spilled the beans. No, I wouldn’t fall for it. I didn’t smile back.

He walked over to me. He inched out his foot and sort of nudged my leg. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Huh?” I said. The genuine concern on his face was a curveball.

“You look upset,” Flynn said.

“Yeah, ‘cause your faggy ass is here,” Tanner chimed in with a mixture of ice shards and humor.

Flynn sat down next to me. His back caused the fence to bow. He pulled me into a pseudo-headlock. He laughed as I struggled.

My head was almost in his crotch, and I realized he was taunting me. Like I was so faggy that I would give a blowjob to any guy that was available and willing. I ripped myself free and stood up, cursing. “Don’t touch me!”

“This fag tried to rape you, Brady?” Tanner asked me, suddenly appearing by my side. He turned and looked at Flynn who was still on the ground. I thought he was actually protecting me, until his mouth broke into a crisp smile. “Dude, you do kinda look like a rapist.” Tanner’s arm laid itself on my shoulder.

I frowned. I usually loved when he touch me, but my rage shook my body all the way to my organs.

Flynn shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.” He grinned and lifted one of his eyebrows in a lewd way. I must admit, it did make him look sort of like a pedophile. Or a soap opera womanizer.


~


We wound up at my house again. Tanner claimed my bed. He spread out on the dark blue comforter, controlling his character on the old-school Nintendo 64 James Bond game with ease and skill. Flynn clumsily shot at walls, laughing like it was the most fun he’d ever had.

I watched. There weren’t enough controllers for me to play. I don’t know why Flynn got a controller and I was stuck watching. It should be me laughing with and digitally killing Tanner. He knew I loved Tanner, and he was going to taunt me by stealing him from me.

I left to go to the bathroom and kicked his leg really hard making it look like an accident. His face scrunched up, and his eyes flicked to look at me. I didn’t apologize. He didn’t say a word, like he knew he deserved it.

I peed, swearing under my breath. My chest constricted.

He didn’t even look like he was angry or hurt by my blatant and petty bullying. It was almost like he pitied me. Goddamnit. He was obviously playing the part of understanding hunk. The one all girls fall in love with, and all guys want to be friends with. It made me angry that he kept up the poker face for Tanner. And he would come out on top. No one would see what he was doing. Everyone would think that I’m just some petty fag who’s overreacting when really, he wants to steal what’s most important from me.

I heard the soft padding of my mother in the hallway. I hurriedly turned off the faucet and wipe my hands dry on my pants. I ripped the door open to see my mother walking like a ghost. A book propped open in her hand and earbuds in her ears blasting Neil Young.

“You’re going to go deaf, Mom,” I said loudly.

She jumped and turned to find me. A soft and absentminded smile shined at me. She tugged at the earbuds. “Hey, buddy. What did you say?”

“I said you’re going to go deaf.”

She chuckled. “I very well might.”

I nodded at the book in her hand. “What are you reading?”

Her face got red. “I wanted to read it, because everyone always talks about it. Madge says that her daughter is obsessed.” She sighed. “I kind of like the idea of beautiful, sparkly vampires.” She held the book up to let me see the cover. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. “I don’t know why I don’t read romance. It’s fun. But it makes me feel old.”

“You should get a boyfriend. It’s been too long.” I don’t now why I said it. I’ve never wanted my mom to get a boyfriend since my parents’ divorce. Why now?

My mother’s head cocked to the side. She frowned. “Is everything alright, hon?” I nodded, giving her my best nonchalant smile. “Yeah, why?”

“It’s just weir––”

“WHAT? NO! HOW’D YOU KILL ME?” Tanner.

Boisterous laughter.

Mom grinned. “A new friend” She waggled her eyebrows. “A girl, maybe?”

I shook my head. “No, just some weird guy.”

“Weird?” Mom bit her tongue. “No one is weird in comparison to me. I must meet this boy.” She led the way to the closed door of my room.

As soon as she had the door opened an inch, I heard Flynn say, “Did you want to have a turn?”

“Me?” Mom responded. “I think not.” She laughed. I smiled; Mom had this odd way of diffusing any bad emotions that I had, even if only momentarily. “I didn’t disappear. Descartes has let me down yet again.” She paused. “I’m Jackie, Brady’s mom. You are?”

I pushed my way into the room to see Flynn shoot up and jam his hand out to shake.

“Flynn Red.”

“Nice to meet you, Flynn Red,” Mom sang, like she was princess in a cartoon movie.

Flynn’s smile was big as he took her hand and pretended to be a prince.

My mom beamed, and that softened my impression of him.


~


Sunday, I went to work at Vons. I offered my assistance to customers as I put the last bag in their cart, but only one old lady who came every Sunday took advantage. She gave me a nickel for my trouble, and I was supremely excited -- genuinely. I’d never gotten a tip, even one so small.

When I went back inside to bag, my mood was soured when I saw Flynn. He was hauling a case of water bottles onto the conveyer belt of my check stand. Lori, the cashier, chatted amiably with what I assumed to be Flynn’s mom.

He finished unloading the cart and squeezed it past his mom. “Hi.”

“Good evening, sir,” I said.

He laughed with a big smile. “I’m a ‘sir’ now. When do you get off work?”

I looked at him. What did he want? “Six.”

“Wanna hang out at my house?”

Tanner hadn’t even texted me that they were going to hang out. Had Flynn already taken him? I couldn’t let that happen. Of course, I said yes. If I wasn’t there, Flynn might finalize his succession of my position as best friend.


~


Still in the oversized beige polo and black pants of my Vons uniform, I checked the address scribbled on the back of receipt before ringing the doorbell. I hoped that Tanner wasn’t there yet.

A short girl answered the door. She looked me up and down. I guessed she was Flynn’s older sister. “Flynn! It’s for you.”

He came bounding down the stairs. His face was red. He looked at the ground. “Hi.”

“Hi?” I said, not sure what was wrong with him.

“Come in,” he said. Suddenly, he met my eyes with a level look.

I stepped over the threshold, looking around at the tall ceilings. Man, his family was loaded. It was huge.

Everything was huge. “So, is Tanner already here?”

“Tanner?” He gave me a funny look. “I didn’t invite Tanner.”

“Then, why invite me?”

“I wanted to hang out with you,” Flynn said. He said it so innocently.

I narrowed my eyes, thinking for a long moment. “You’re some sick prick, aren’t you? Stealing my best friend and then pretending like you actually want to be friends?” I shoved him and ripped the front door open.

I trudged home. I hated him; I hated him so much that my chest hurt. He was stealing my best friend, and he was acting like he wasn’t. At least be honest, douchebag. I hated him.

I stared at the evening sky. Only the brightest stars dotted the darkness, but looking at them sucked away some of my anger. I stopped shaking, even though I had barely realized I was doing that.

Tanner texted me when I was a block away from my house. He wanted to know the homework for English. I told him. He responded with a choice swear word. I couldn’t help but smile. I was still the first one he came to.

That knowledge made the rest of my walk back home not so bad.

Mom was halfway through Twilight when I opened the door to my house. “Honey? Home so early? I thought you went to Flynn’s house.”

I shook my head.

“Something wrong?”

I shook my head again. “I didn’t go to his house. I suddenly felt really tired when work was over.”

Mom patted the spot next to her on the couch. “Don’t lie to me. Come sit.” She didn’t say it like an accusation; she said it with honey sweetness.

I still didn’t want to sit, but I obeyed like the rottenly good kid that I am. She put her arm around me and kissed the side of my head. “Are you going to tell me or do I have to the summon the powers of Miss Cheryl?”

Miss Cheryl. God, she hadn’t called Miss Cheryl out of hiding since I was ten, and I cried about how Dad was remarrying. Miss Cheryl -- I don’t know where my mom got that ridiculous name from -- was Mom’s alter ego who did whatever it took to make me smile. Honestly, my mom could do that without the use of her alter ego.

I looked at my mom seriously and decided to tell her the truth. The half-truth. “I don’t like him. I don’t like Flynn. He’s trying to be Tanner’s best friend.”

Mom laughed. That’s just like her. When she’s supposed to be on my side unconditionally, she laughs at me. “Honey, can’t Tanner have two best friends?”

I answered completely honestly. “No.”

She pinched my cheek. “C’mon, Brady, you are a big boy. You can share.”

“Mom, I can’t. I can’t share. Not Tanner.”

She put her head on my shoulder.

I felt the sudden urge to tell her that I was in love with Tanner. That I wanted to do everything with him that I was supposed to do with a girl. Yes, even fuck him. I wanted to touch his face. Run my hands over his torso and down his legs. I wanted to see movies with him in the dark theater and hold his hand. I wanted him to lean forward and kiss me after I kissed him. Go with me to homecoming.

I squeezed my eyes shut, startled that all those thoughts just popped into my consciousness. I knew they were all true, but I didn’t like that I could think them so concretely.

I shook her off and stood up. I could feel the heat emanating off my face. My stomach crawled inside itself, and I pulled myself up the stairs to the bathroom.

Leaning over the toilet, I wretched and wretched, trying to rid myself of the thoughts and urges that threatened my sanity. In the end, I succumbed to bodily demands.

I stripped naked and stood in the tub. I turned on the water. For a second, it was freezing, and it almost worked to divert my attention, but as soon as the water warmed, I noticed my hands creeping closer.

It was rather ridiculous, arguing with myself. I stood for a full minute under the water. The warm drops of water teased me.

I ended up jacking off. I felt like a savage. I was disgusting.

When I finished, I felt so exhausted that I just wanted to cry. It was stupid, I know, but I cried. It wasn’t a bunch of sobbing, but I knew that some of the water trickling down my face was salty. The worst part was the ripped out feeling that my chest had.

Everything swirled down the drain, but I saw the stains everywhere.


~


Monday morning, I couldn’t look Tanner in the eyes when we ate lunch with Flynn and the girls. My hands… my hands, they were all over him. It was lascivious. Tanner didn’t notice; bless his airheadedness, all he was doing was talking to Polly, looking at her rack.

For the shortest amount of time possible, an image of me on top of him appeared in the air right before my eyes. I let out the tiniest gasp before blinking it out of my eyes. Though I knew it was just my desire-induced figment, the heat pushed its way to my face.

I felt Dawn’s and Flynn’s curious eyes on me. Well, on me, yes, but more specifically my nether region.

“Uh, do you need to go to the bathroom or something?” Dawn asked me.

I stuttered my excuses and stalked to the bathroom, my hands in my pockets desperately pushing down my erection. Locked in the stall, I waited for my body to calm down. I heard three guys piss into the urinals. Only two turned on the faucet, and only one used soap -- the dispenser squeaks bloody murder. After the door shut on the third guy, it opened again.

“Brady, um, you’ve been in here for awhile. Are you alright?” came Flynn’s voice.

“Piss off.” He was not who I wanted right then. I didn’t want anyone.

“You don’t have to be ashamed.”

“Fuck off,” I said.

“It’s perfectly natural,” he said, like this was some 80s health info video.

“Go away.” I waited silently until I heard the bathroom door open and close. No sound. I unbolted the stall and breathed in slowly.

He was standing right there. What a bastard.

Somehow though, it was a relief to still see him there. He knew my shame, but he was still there. He wasn’t as disgusted with me as I was with myself.

I glared at him anyway and attempted to push past him toward the door.

He caught my wrists, holding them sturdily for a long moment before letting them go. He smiled in a slightly sad, slightly menacing way. “You don’t have to prove your masculinity to me.”

I stood motionless for a second and then blabbered the first thing that came to mind, “I want to f-f-f-fuck him.” The words reverberated off the acoustically inconvenient tile walls.

Eternity and infinity occurred then. It was more than a few epochs or periods or eras. It was more than all the eons of Earth’s history. It lasted the span of nine suns. We could have gone to the center of the galaxy and back twenty three times, by car.

I grabbed Flynn’s shoulders. “Do you understand me? I want to stick my dick in his ass.” My hands shook as I dug into him. “I want to. I really do.” I looked away at the floor. “Tell me that isn’t shameful.”

He didn’t answer me, and I let my hands drop.

At least now he wouldn’t try to think that he could say meaningless words to make me feel better or pretend to be my friend. He wouldn’t have to bother to act in front of Tanner. He would have an excuse. Good for him.

I went back to the group, grabbed my bag, and said that I was sick and had to go home. Tanner gave me a concerned look, but I smiled at him in a sheepish way to let him know it wasn’t too bad. I don’t know how I could act so calm in front of my best friend after what I just told Flynn.

He turned back to look at Polly’s rack instantaneously.

My heart fell. He didn’t care about me half as much as I cared about him. Sure, we were best friends. But not best friends like the way girls are. How could he not see through my act? Why did he not see everything I was feeling?

I left campus, not even bothering to go through the office.

As I walked home, I called my mom on her cell phone and told her that I wasn’t feeling well.

The house was dark. It matched my mood. I sunk into the soft brown couch in the living and picked something to watch. I was empty after everything that happened.

I was off a three-episode marathon of House when the front door bell rang. I slid off the couch and answered the door.

It was Flynn. “Can I come in? Is your mom home?” He looked past me into the house, like that quick survey would tell him everything he needed to know.

“No,” I said. There was nothing he could say to me.

He entered anyway, shutting the door after him.

I didn’t have the heart to fight him. Instead, I spit my words with vileness. “What do you want?” I asked. “I gave you a free pass. This is a bigger scoop than Deep Throat. Need it on tape, you bastard?”

He stared at me, and suddenly he pulled me into a hug. “It’s not shameful.”

I pushed him away. “Don’t touch me.”

He gave me a smile. “But I want to.”

I glared at him. “I’m not that type of fag. You’re an asshole.”

He shook his head. “No! Not like that. Brady! Fuck.” He looked around the room, taking a moment, before he said slowly, “I want to, because I’m gay.” He said it like a divine revelation.

I wasn’t revolted -- which is just more proof on top of the mountain of evidence that said I was definitely a fag. I was surprised though. “What?” I stared at him for answers.

“I want you,” he said, suddenly more shy than I’d ever seen him. No pity or bravado in his eyes.

“I want Tanner,” I blurted.

He nodded. “I know that. I was just thinking you might want to give me a try.”

I stared at him. Words were not processing like they usually did in my brain.

“Tanner is straight,” he said.

“I know,” I said. Hearing someone else tell that to me was somehow more painful than knowing it. “Why have you been trying to take him from me then?”

“I just wanted him to like me, so he wouldn’t be angry if you and I dated,” Flynn said.

“It’s that obvious that I’m… gay?” I asked.

Flynn shrugged. “Not really. I had a feeling, but I wasn’t sure. It could’ve been wishful thinking.”

“I have a lot of wishful thinking.” I realized we were still standing just inside the front door. I led us back to the couch in the living room.

Just before he sat down on those deep brown cushions, he said, “It wouldn’t have to be a wish with me.”

I huffed out a breath. This was new.


About the Author



Georgia Tell lives in Los Angeles in a house full of animals: cats, dogs, lizards, rats and fish. When she’s not writing books, she loves to knit, crochet, and create many elaborate financial spreadsheets. She also writes poetry.




www.GeorgiaTell.com

Twitter and Instagram: @GeorgiaTell



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