The Outcasts

by Cole Parker

8

It was in the library two nights later that Liam thought he might try again to approach the reasons Will had separated himself from everyone else. He knew he had to do it very non-threateningly.

"Will?"

Will looked up at him. "Yes?"

"It makes you uncomfortable to talk about yourself, doesn't it?"

Will almost grinned. "You figured that out, huh?"

Liam did smile at that. "Yeah. Actually, I'm pretty bright. I'm trying to find a way so you can talk to me about yourself. I think it will help you. That's part of being friends, talking to each other about everything you can't talk to other people about, and helping each other when they need it. You want to be that kind of friend, don't you?"

"I don't know. I think so. I feel so different than I did before the bridge. I haven't had a friend in a long time. I didn't want any. Then, at the bridge, I had all these feelings I didn't understand, and since then, I want to be close to you. I don't understand it. Any of it. I'm still trying to understand my feelings when I saw you climb up on the bridge railing. It was the strongest feeling I can ever remember. I knew I couldn't let you jump. Somehow, I was feeling closer to you right then than I can ever remember feeling about anyone. And I don't know why. But that feeling, it wasn't a bad feeling. I liked it, feeling that closeness to you. I can remember that it felt good. It still does feel good to be with you. Yes, I think I want to be really good friends."

"I want that very badly. No one else will talk to me, and I need a friend probably more than you do. So thank you, Will, thank you for letting me be your friend. I hope you don't change your mind. When other boys see us talking, they're going to decide you're queer, too. I mean boys other than just Hogsford. They'll say things to you that will hurt."

"I'll ignore them, just like always. I have for a long time. Their words won't mean anything to me."

"And you don't want to tell me why you've ignored them, why you're that way, do you?"

"I suppose I don't. I'm sorry, Liam. I'm not ready yet. Maybe some day."

"But it really won't bother you if people say you're queer? Most boys would hate that."

"I don't think it will bother me. I've learned not to pay much attention to anyone else. If what they say is mean, intended to hurt me, I'll simply ignore it like I've been ignoring everything they say to me."

"And you used to ignore me, too, but now you don't. Why?"

"I don't know why, I don't understand my feelings, Liam, but I know I want to be friends with you."

"It isn't because I'm queer, is it? I mean, I am a homo. I shouldn't ask, it's rude of me, and you can ignore me if you want, but, are you, too? Does that have anything to do with you wanting to be friends?"

"I haven't even thought about that. I don't know. I'm not attracted to boys, or girls. I'm not attracted to anyone."

"So what do you think about when you, well, you know?"

"When I what?"

"Will! You must know what I'm talking about!"

Will frowned at him. "No, I don't. What is it?"

"When you have a wank. Boys like me think about hot boys when they do that. Boys they're attracted to. Straight boys think about girls. Who do you think about?"

Will didn't even blush. He merely said, "I don't do that."

Liam looked shocked. "Really? You're 14 years old and you don't wank? I always thought all boys did. That's what we learned in our lesssons. You don't? You never have?"

Will started looking upset. "I don't think I can talk about this any more, Liam. I don't do that. And I don't want to talk about it any more."

"Okay. I'm sorry. I'm just getting to know you. Please have patience with me as I learn what we can talk about safely and what we can't."

"I'll try. Some things upset me, they just do. I'm sorry. I've learned to simply not think about them."

"Maybe some day we'll find a way that you can think about them, and we'll be able to talk about them and maybe then it won't bother you to think about anything you want to. Anyway, we need to be reading."

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