Just Hit 'Send' - The High School Years
Jordan plugged the power cord into the huge battery operated surge protector, sat down in his cushy new chair with the movable armrests, propped his long legs on the Altec sound box and pushed the 'on' switch.
He had worked hard to earn the money for his new computer. If he earned half, his dad had promised to pay the rest. Now, finally, he had his dream machine.
Jordan had a pile of great friends, made good grades, could charm old ladies, and was passably cute. 15, dirty blonde hair, sharp green eyes that missed nothing and dimples that defied gravity. But lately, he'd been feeling odd, waking up strange. In the middle of family, friends and school, Jordan was lonely, for what he didn't know, but the aching inside was growing and he was hoping that a new interest, a new toy would make it go away.
Danny sat staring at the blank screen, his eyes itching, bloodshot from the glare. Sometimes, he read with one eye shut. Too much time online, too little sleep. He knew he had to stop but it was like an addiction. He kept thinking that if he talked to just one more person, if he made one more contact, he would find someone who would understand. His family watched helplessly as he withdrew further and further into himself. His friends had all tried and then, one by one, they had drifted away. Talking only brought on harsh words. He was 15; too old to lock in his room, besides, the computer was in there.
Danny had gone the route of porno sites, easing the ache momentarily with the pictures, the stories, his hand. But that wasn't what he needed. He wasn't sure what it was he did need, he just knew if he could talk to one more person, one stranger, he might find the answer. He was so lonely, it hurt.
"Hey, Jordy," Arnie called from across the cafeteria. "Over here!"
Jordan walked between the tables, balancing his tray with the salad, apple and milk, nodding his head to people as they spoke. He was one of the few kids at school that crossed the invisible lines between the different cliques. He had friends in every group, but his best friends were all sitting at the table by the window, near the sunshine, always near the sun. They were all boarders, surfers. A few did drugs but, by and large, they were all clean. Jordan had kicked a pill problem a year ago and that was behind him now.
Shoving over, Griffin grinned and, reaching over, popped Jordan on the back of his head for the gazillionth time in their lives. Griff was Jordan's closest friend and knew more about him than anyone else in the world. "Hey ," he said, his voice always sounding like a chuckle was just below the surface. "You okay today?" Jordan had tried to explain his feelings to him last night on the phone. Griff didn't know what his friend needed but he would always be there to help.
"Yeah," Jordan tried to blow it off. "No big deal. I got my head screwed on the wrong way last night." Griff saw something flicker across Jordan's eyes but then it was gone.
"I got the Dell monster all hooked up and going," Jordan answered, turning to the whole table, laughing, "Now, you can bug the hell out of me all night too, guys."
"You got a user name?" Griffin asked. "How about doofus@ or limpdick@?" They all started coming up with worse and worse names, til Jordan held up his hands in defeat.
"I really don't think FartBreath@ is me," he laughed. "I'm gonna go with Kicker41@. If you want me, that's where I'll be."
"Kewl, dude, after your board," Arnie grinned.
"Yeah, I figured anyone who likes boards will know what I am," he smiled, thinking that maybe there was someone out there who would recognize his name, talk to him and be able to tell him who he was.
That night, trig homework done, Jordan sat down in the chair and punched the 'on' button. He had already installed Billy Gawrych doing a handstand finger flip on his screensaver and downloaded MSN and Yahoo. All his friends were added to his buddy lists and now it was time to search......for what, he didn't know.
Two hours later, he gave up in frustration, his hair standing straight up from all the times he'd run his hands though. He'd finally shoved on his glasses to ease the eye strain but they still itched. These people were all weird. The Yahoo chatrooms were too fast and furious. He couldn't even read the posts before they flashed on. When he finally got up the nerve to say 'Hi', some dude came back with 'Wanna suck me?' Um...no !
The next night and all the nights after that, Jordan looked for a place to talk, a place where someone would have some answers for him. At school, he was the same old Jordy, friendly and outgoing, on top of the world. At the dinner table, no one saw any difference. It was just at night, when he was all alone in his room that he let his mind drift............to the way Gary Martin's hair hung over his eyes when he was working in Trig class; the way Joby Riley's butt filled his gym shorts so that his jock line showed through; Kenny Leary's mouth as he laughed.............on and on and on.
Jordan had tried so hard to not be this........not do this. He was a great date. The girls all loved him. He had kissed them all and done his share of groping but, alone in his room, alone with his thoughts, he knew. Done with the crying, done with the 'I will NOT be this', he just wanted to talk to someone.
Most of the stories he'd read on the net scared him. He wanted someone to care about, not just someone to jerk off with. He wanted someone to explain these feelings.
Danny knew his grades were abysmal. He knew he had to buckle down or he'd never get to college. But, he couldn't seem to pull himself together. He couldn't seem to concentrate anymore. "One more night,' he promised himself. 'After tonight, I won't go online. If I can't find any answers tonight, then fuck it !'
Following a link from another website of stories about boys, perfect boys in love and bouncing from one to another, gorgeous boys who seemed to be able to fall to their knees in front of any other gorgeous boy and fall in love, he decided that this was it. If this site couldn't help him, he was finished. He ran his fingers through the dark hair curling over his ears and rubbed his knuckles roughly into the blue eyes that were weak from strain. He began to read a story by someone calling themselves CaliforniaDreamer. It began like so many others but, as he read, way into the night, he wanted to be one of those boys. He didn't even care which one; Andy...Stevie, he didn't care. They were both what he wanted to be. Scared, but doing something about it, confident but shy. He wanted what they had. He wanted a pendant with his lover's name on it. He wanted Stevie's family to be his family, to understand, to love him no matter what he did. Danny found himself crying every time the two boys made love. Rereading, not for the sex of it, but for the pure joy.
He clicked on the message board, wanting to see what kind of people posted on a site where the stories were so tender, so loving. He began to read the different posts. Danny decided that maybe, just maybe, this could be a good place, somewhere he might find what he was looking for. For the first time in months, he went to sleep without tears on his cheeks.
Griff tried to make him to go to the party but Jordan was tired of playing at that game. "Nah, you guys go on," he'd sighed. "I'm just gonna read or something." Griff worried about Jordan too much, but he knew him well enough to know that if he pushed, Jordan would never tell him what was making that look in his eyes. Rubbing him across the shoulders for a minute, Griff said quietly, "This time, Jord, but we're gonna talk about this later, K?"
Jordan waited til he heard the car roar away and then clicked on the machine. He went to the site he'd saved last night when he was too tired to read any more. He found the story he had bookmarked by someone named CaliforniaDreamer. Two hours later, he realized he was leaning into the screen, his shoulders tight, his cheeks dried from tears. He just sat still, his mind churning with the pleasure, the images. 'That writer had the name wrong,' he thought. 'He should have called him Jordan, not Andy.'
He stood up and paced the floor of his room, stopping to look out the window at the clouds hiding the moon, when suddenly the moon burst through and flooded the earth with moonglow. Taking a deep breath, Jordan sat down, clicked on the message board and typed a post:
Name: Seeker Password: peanutbutter
Topic:Will Someone Listen?
I loved the story by CD and I really need someone to talk to. Does anyone have a few minutes? I'm 15 and not very good with words.
Before school the next morning, Danny checked the message board of his now favorite story. He saw all the posts from last night but there, hiding amongst all the others, was a single tiny post:
Will Someone Listen?
He read it and his heart nearly jumped out of his throat. Kicker41? 15?
Really? He clicked on the name and Kicker41@ popped up on his e-mail screen. Should he? Danny had never been so scared. This would be it.
If this wasn't an answer, he was finished.
Back on the message board, his hands shook as he clicked "post reply". Staring at the blank form, he typed:
Name: LionsDen Password: morpheus
Topic: Re: Will Someone Listen?
Then he got to the reply screen:
He sat very still. Finally, he typed:
[For those who use webmail: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, etc). Each browser is subtly different or we'd give fuller instructions here. If it pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]