The Highschool Years

by David Gaingridge

Chapter 8

"I'm glad you invited me. I had a blast," Mitch said as the twinkling lights danced over his eyes.

"Me too," I replied pulling him down for a kiss. I grabbed his hand and let him out of the dance.

I had picked Mitch. I'm still not sure why. Sam had told me that he was feeling anxious about prom so that also helped in my decision. I told him I wished he could've been there.

For once it seemed like everything was perfect. Like this was how it was supposed to be.

This night was written in the stars…

"Sid?"

But unfortunately it was also written in the sand.

I glanced away from Mitch to look in the direction of the person who called my name. My heart sank…it was Sam.

"Sam? Wha…what are you doing here?"

"I was feeling a bit better and was gonna surprise you." He replied.

"Sid, who is this guy?" Mitch whispered.

"I…uh…this is Sam we go to school together here." My brain was furiously trying to come up with a way to get out of this situation.

I saw Sam look down at our hands that were still entwined and then he realized that we weren't just friends.

"That's Mitch," Sam said more to himself than us.

And in that moment that Sam's eyes lingered over our hands Mitch started piecing together my relationship with Sam. And then I felt his hand slip away from mine.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Sam asked.

"Or me?" Mitch chimed in.

I had to take a step back from both of them because I felt like I was in the lion's den during feeding time and my carcass was their dinner.

"I tried to tell you…both of you. But the…the timing didn't seem right. And none of us ever talked about being exclusive and…"

"Save it," Mitch spat at me. "You knew how hard it was for me to come here tonight. To be open with you. But I did. I came here for you!"

"But I wanted you to come for yourself. I wanted you to see that we would be fine here and then maybe you'd have more courage to come ou…"

"Don't say it. God, Sid, you try to act like such a martyr, but you're not. I'm not ready! You were forced out! Remember that. So stop acting like your such a smart ass when it comes to this!"

Mitch stopped yelling and looked over at Sam who was wiping away tears from his eyes.

"Sam…" I began to say.

"No," he said wiping away the tears and holding up a finger. "I came here tonight because you wanted me to get out of my shell and out of my comfort zone. Well I did. And here I am. I should've never let you in because if you don't let people in they can't hurt you." Sam said defeatedly.

Then they both turned and walked away.

It's been said that when it rains it pours. Well, I guess it's no longer raining on prom night. It's pouring. From the looks of my life Noah would've been long drowned 'cause of what's happened in this year alone.


I had that same dream two nights in a row. And both times they seemed so real. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I knew that I needed to tell Sam and Mitch everything. It was the only fair thing to do and maybe things wouldn't be as bad as I had dreamt for prom.

"So, what did you want to talk to me about?" Sam asked sitting on my bed and pulling me out of my daydream. He was wrapped up in his sweater and had a concerned look on his face.

"So, um, you know Mitch," Sam nodded his head in agreement. "Well he was talking and you know that…um…well we were talking…and we just" I rambled on

"Sid, just let me know what's going on, please. You're making me nervous."

I took in a deep breath and said, "Mitch and I are going to prom together".

"Oh…"

"Yeah," I didn't really know what else to say.

"Is that it?" Sam asked. I just nodded my head. Sam exhaled a little at that. "Don't do that. I was expecting really bad news. Like you were dying or something".

"So…are we good?"

"Yeah".

"Are you sure?"

"Why him and not me?" Sam muttered.

I wasn't prepared for that question. "It's always been him. Even when I thought I couldn't have him. It's been him".

"So, what? I was just some play thing?" Sam half muttered half spat.

"No! Of course not! You never were. I think I was confusing loving with liking. I was just in a very vulnerable place when I came here. I love you as a friend. I didn't mean to mess things up. Do you hate me?"

"I wish I could say I do…but I don't. I hate the way you handled the situation. Your friendship means a lot to me and I don't want to lose that. I mean…I do have you to thank for making me come out of my shell and…"

"You did that all on your own," I interrupted.

"No…I couldn't have done it without you. You made me see that I have worth. That I can't let others just push me around and that…" Sam just broke down in tears.

I rushed over and hugged him. "Hey, it's gonna be ok. It's all gonna be ok," I cooed.

He sniffled and wiped away a tear. "I just wish I had met you sooner. I don't hate you. I just wanna see you happy. You deserve it."

"I've heard that people enter your lives when you need them." I said referencing the eulogy spoken at Dottie's funeral. "I'm here for you. And don't forget you deserve happiness as well," I replied as I hugged him.

——

Over the next few days my dad and I went shopping for my prom tux. I didn't want anything too crazy just something simple…elegant. I was glad my dad offered his opinion because Dan and Amanda were busy getting stuff for their prom and Sam had a big project due right before prom. I was also glad because my dad had good taste. I asked Scott, but he said finals was a stressful time for him. He said he wished he could go, but made me promise we take family photos before I go went out to my prom. What a dad thing to do.

"What do you think of this?" My dad asked holding up a grey suit. 
"It's nice. I don't know if I want grey though."

My dad continued rummaging through a few more suits his tailor had pulled. "So, how's Mitch doing?" He nonchalantly asked.

"He's good. Crazy busy with basketball and essays. But he's good at English so he's not too worried."

"What's he think of prom?" My dad asked. I looked over at him and then he raised an eyebrow. He meant what does he think of possibly having news travel back to his school that he not only ditched his own prom to go to another prom but to attend that prom with another guy.

"He's nervous. His parents are never home so I doubt they'll care. If something does happen Dan and Amanda said they'd look after him."

"And he can always stay here," my dad chimed in. I just smiled at my dad. God, how could anyone hate this man? He didn't seem to have a mean bone in his body!

We continued looking at some more suits making some more small talk. My dad pulled a powder blue suit and I just scrunched up my nose and he just laughed.

"So, did you talk to Sam?"

I turned to my dad who was holding a burgundy suit and nodded my head. "I talked to him a few days ago. He doesn't hate me. Everything's ok. We've talked since then and he hasn't weirded out or anything."

"I'm glad to hear, son. I just didn't want to see you hurt."

I smiled, "Sam said a similar thing to me." Just then I noticed a black suit hanging up behind my dad. I walked over to it and held it up. This was the one. It was simple, elegant, and didn't need any tailoring. I turned and held it up to my dad who just smiled. It was the perfect suit.

I was about to look at the price to make sure I could afford it when my dad whispered, "consider it a pre-graduation gift. Every man deserves to have a nice suit." I just hugged my dad. I was so glad I got to reconnect with him.


The Friday that prom was held on turned out to be even more of a special day for many reasons. First, Mitch arrived on the afternoon train and was staying with me for the weekend. And second, I heard back from all of the colleges I applied to. I got into all of them so I had my choice of where I wanted to be next year. I was so excited I texted all of my Dan, Amanda, Keith, and Sam the good news and they all texted back saying they still had to pick as well. And then I got to thinking: what would this mean for Mitch and myself? Mitch was slowly becoming more comfortable with who he was around other people…would he be comfortable possibly being thousands of miles apart if we chose different schools?

I didn't want to think about this and worry right now. I needed to get dressed for prom and go with my incredible date. I slipped on my suit and tried my best to tie my bowtie with little success. Just as I opened my door to ask Scott for help my dad's bedroom door opened and Mitch came out wearing a well-tailored dark grey suit with his hair slicked back. He looked like he should be on the cover for the Oscars. Part of me really wanted to forget about prom and just spend the night in. But another part really wanted to dance with him. Just us.

"Wow, you look hot," I stated as I walked towards him.

"Thanks," he blushed, "so do you." And then he leaned down to kiss me. Mmm this man knew how to kiss. I raised my hand to his chest and felt his firm muscles.

Even though my eyes were closed I saw a small flash of light and the sound of a camera taking a picture. Mitch and I broke the kiss and looked down to where we'd heard the sound. Scott and my dad were smiling and had a camera out.

"Ok, picture time," Scott said as he held up the camera. My dad and Mitch just laughed and I playfully rolled my eyes. Before I knew it I was in every combination possible: me by myself, me with my dad, me with Mitch, me with my Scott, me with my dad and Scott, the four of us, etc. By the end of it I was pretty sure my vision had permanently changed from all the flashes. I actually didn't mind though and plus I know it was really important for Scott and my dad. I think Mitch even liked it.

We had finished up taking the pictures and I hugged both Scott and my dad (as did Mitch) and I grabbed my dad's keys since he said I could borrow his car tonight.

"Oh, Sid," Scott began as I grabbed the keys, "you won't need those." I looked at him quizzically. "Well, I got you a limo tonight for you and your friends and it'll be here in a few minutes".

"Oh my god, dad, thank you," I went over and hugged Scott.

"Go! Have a good time!" My dad said and with that we grabbed our jackets and left.

But not before I heard my dad turn to Scot and say, "he called you dad".

"I know," Scott sniffled.

Without even realizing it I guess I had called Scott 'dad'. But that was just how I saw him now. I didn't mean for him to take over as my own dad I just meant that he was such a dad to me that I definitely saw him as that.


"After you," Mitch said as he opened the door of the limo. I smiled at him and hopped in the back of the car. We were greeted with shrieks of excitement and laughter. All of my best friends were there — Amanda, Dan, Sam, and Keith. I thought that Amanda and Dan were at their prom, but I guess they chose to be with me tonight. I was just so excited to see them! There were also two other people in the car who I assumed were Sam and Keith's respective dates. Keith's date was very pretty and she looked stunning in her white dress. Sam's date was also cute with a black tux on and a buzzcut. It took me a couple of seconds but I finally recognized him from the swim team… I guess I just wasn't used to seeing him with his clothes on.

There was champagne already open in the back and Amanda was already pouring another bottle. I honestly didn't care if the prom sucked this night had been perfect so far and exceeded every one of my expectations already.

Dan and Sam passed out the filled glasses of champagne. I don't know why but it felt like it would be such a let down if we just drank and didn't have a speech. Especially since this would be the last time all of my best friends and I would be together for awhile with college coming up.

"To Sid," Mitch said as he raised his glass. "For being an incredible person…" Mitch trailed off.

"And showing us incredible strength," Dan chimed in.

"And giving us incredible love," Amanda said.

"And bringing us all together tonight," and Sam finished.

"To Sid!" Keith said and the rest of the group chimed in.

In my seated position I couldn't do much other than hold Mitch's hand and drink the champagne. I wanted to hug every single one of them and forget all about prom. I knew that no matter what we'd stay in touch next year and in the years to come.

Or a least I hoped…


Prom was amazing. The food was delicious, the decor was grand, and the company made the evening. We were all dressed to the nines and looked like we should be stepping off a runway. Even the photographers hired to look like paparazzi made it seem that much more real.

Even the DJ was pretty good. We all broke out our worst "white boy can't dance moves" that night and laughed.

If I could freeze time I'd want to freeze this day. My prom hadn't been like those dreams I'd been having in any way. Even Mitch seemed a little more at ease tonight. He still looked around when he kissed me and even then he would only give a quick peck. He even seemed to be a little more relaxed when we were dancing, but i think that was because a slow song hadn't played yet.

And speak of the devil as soon as I thought that the DJ changed the song. The speakers were soon flooded with the beginning notes of REO Speedwagon's infamous song 'Can't Fight This Feeling'. I looked at Mitch trying to judge what he was thinking and then he did something that surprised me — he held out his hand.

"Are you sure?" I asked. I didn't want to pressure him because even though we had kissed very quickly and come together this would seal the deal that he was into guys.

He took in a deep breath and nodded. I just wanted to hug him and kiss him right there. I was so proud of him and I whispered that in his ear when we started dancing.

"I need to stop caring what other people think," he whispered back. I just wondered how he would deal when he got back. Would word get back about prom? Was he going to deny it? What would happen to him if he got outed like I did?

As I had expected no one made a big deal out of it (at least here they didn't). Nobody said anything to the queer couples. And even if they did everyone from the gay-straight alliance was here so they would quickly shut it down.

Sam and his date were also dancing near us and I saw him give his date a peck on the lips. I just smiled when I saw that. Sam was gonna be alright. And I was honestly just so happy for him.

Keith and his date also looked like they were having a good time. Honestly if he was happy and content with not coming out just yet, who was I to tell him otherwise? I still supported his decision about staying in the closet. Not everyone is ready to come out as soon as they figure it all out. God knows I wasn't ready to fully come out.

I looked over at Dan and Amanda dancing and smiled. Those two had helped me out and always been there for me. We had grown up together, matured together, gone through shit, and still stuck by one another's side.

We danced together and I couldn't help but take in the lyrics. When it got to the part where the vocalist sings "And even as I wander. I'm keeping you in sight" I couldn't help but smile. Though everything felt like it was ending it really wasn't. I think I knew that deep down. It was just a sort of a happy/sad that I was experiencing. I knew that we were all going to come home soon. That home was, and would always be, what brought us together. And while my home had changed home would always be when I was with my friends… and now my dads.

I could feel tears coming. Through all the shit that I'd gone through in these past few months I couldn't believe how far I'd come. And maybe things were going to be ok after all. Time. Maybe that's all we need. Time always moves forward whether we want it to or not. And maybe we need to stop worrying so much about if we're fated or free-willed and just enjoy the present.

END

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