The Walk

by It's Only Me from Across the Sea

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I reckoned it was always going to be the same. All the way through school I was going to feel it, and all the way through school, I wasn't going to be able to do anything about it. That feeling was exquisite, and unbearable. Some days I hated it. Other days I loved it. And I tortured myself with it, too.

You've had it, haven't you? That feeling of elation together with the feeling of being crushed by a huge, heavy weight? Needing, hoping, almost daring; then disappearing into a whimpering heap because it just isn't real? Well, enough about that, I guess.

It was the Summer term, and the second year I'd been there. Odd, really. I'd been surfing the net and come upon a webring. Teenage Gay Boy Love Stories. I'd found a pleasant site on the ring, and read Band Practice, and the setting seemed very familiar. Come to that at least one other story on that site seemed to have familiar surroundings. It made it both better and worse to feel that someone had been near here beforehand, and had the same sorts of feelings. Sorry. I'm rambling a bit. Been where? Yeah. School. Very British. Stiff upper lips, boarders and dayboys, sport each day, compulsory cricket. Well, I may be English, but I never could get the trick to cricket! Stand in front of a target, without any protection, with a large bit of wood, and have someone hurl half a housebrick at you at about 90 mph. Not my idea of fun.

Still, last year I'd fallen for him. James. James Harris. Not Jim. James. Only I wanted to call him Jamie, coz it suited him. Yeah, well falling for James was one thing, but we're both boys. And it isn't done to fall for another boy. At least, if it is done, I don't know how it's done, or who else has done it. And I can't exactly ask anyone for advice! Or for help. Or even tell anyone. And I can't tell James. Heck, I can't think of him as 'James'. I can't tell Jamie.

How can I describe him. Fifteen, like me. A couple of months younger. The first thing I ever noticed about him was his smile. A wicked smile. It wasn't just his mouth that smiled, but his whole face, and his eyes. Especially his eyes. Oh his eyes. I looked into them once and was lost forever. So deep blue that they were almost purple. Deep and dark. I could hardly look at them, they seemed to know so much about what was going on in my mind. And yet they can't have known. Jamie's face never changed when he saw me looking, except that I'm almost certain his smile was more wicked than ever!

Those eyes looked out from beneath a sweeping fringe of pure spun platinum hair. You didn't expect it to be so bright after the eyes. The contrast was almost like the shock of a strobe light. And his face. Not angelic. More like a demon. Smiling, grinning, happy, laughing, slightly rosy cheeks, and that pale complexion that goes with platinum hair. Soft, smooth cheeks, a strong nose, and the most gorgeous ears! Yeah, you heard. Gorgeous ears. His hair almost covered them, but I sat behind him in class, and I made a minute study of them. And his hair grew softly all down the back of his neck, and overlapped his shirt collar.

We were certainly friends. We spent breaks and stuff hanging out, either in the dayroom, or in the tuck-shop. Talking about, well, stuff. You know, nothing special. Just stuff. And I wanted to tell him more than stuff. I wanted to kiss him, and hold him, and be his friend for ever. That's what I wanted to do.

And we talked about stuff.

It had been like this for over a year. I was used to it. Resigned to it, I suppose.

Ah well. I could admire him from afar, I suppose. And try very hard not to put his name into every conversation I had with anyone about anything at all. Oh yes, and try to stop carving 'I love Jamie' into every desk I sat at, and to stop writing it in the margin of my ring binders and then crossing it out so that no-one could ever see. And stop sending him anonymous birthday, Christmas and Valentine's cards. Yeah. I did all that.

And we still hung out together. Almost inseparable. Really good friends. Except I loved him, and he just liked me as a mate. The only other thing that spoilt it was we didn't live near each other. About eight miles apart, with the school in the middle. I was five miles out, and he was three. No real hope of home social contact. 'Home Social Contact!' This education must be rubbing off on me! I never said that, surely? What I meant to say was no real hope of going to visit without a parent getting involved. Bikes? You have to be joking. Not with the traffic we have now! And Mum would have a blue fit about letting her precious son out alone, too. She reckons there are lots of men in shabby raincoats just waiting for the chance to abduct fifteen year olds and she won't even discuss it.

Still, the Summer term was a good one. Lots of good weather, relaxed work, with no special public exams to worry about, no heavyweight revision, and the teachers were all locked up with the years who had the exams. So loads of free periods where we were supposed to study.

"Hey, Paul?" Jamie was calling me to the noticeboards, "have you seen this?"

"What?" it was just so, so, er, so 'oooohhhhh' to stand just behind him, close to, looking over his shoulder.

"Two weeks time. A sponsored walk, 20 miles." He'd half turned his head, feeling my breath on his ear. "You up for it?"

"Well, I dunno." I looked at my athletic abilities. Paul Rogers was never on any teams, never enjoyed exercise, just cycled to and from school and did the compulsory bits. Still it was only walking. Must be possible.

"I'm going to put my name down." Decisive. Signing up for it. Jamie was going to do it, then so was I!

"Put me down then. But only if we walk together, and you scrape me up if I can't go on!" I was on the list. Sunday, a day I usually didn't see Jamie, and I was going to spend five or six hours with him. Yeah, walking, and talking, and getting tired. But just maybe? No, probably not, but it would keep me alive for 20 miles!

"Ok!" He was looking at me and laughing at me. His face about six inches from mine. His lips just out of reach, eyes laughing, and I was being sucked in to those eyes, dizzy, almost passing out, wanting to fall into his arms. And stopping myself. As always stopping myself. Well, I could just see the graffiti. 'Rogers loves Harris', 'Rogers is a poof' It would be everywhere. On all the desks. Scribbled hastily on notices. Some things are better left undone.

Two weeks went slowly. I raised enough sponsors to get to £20 per mile, which wasn't bad. I guess most of them knew I wouldn't make it, and the rest hoped!

The school gave us a packed lunch when we got there, and we started off at around 10 o'clock. The plan was that we walked round the route, and were all back by about 5 o'clock, with enough light left for the stragglers to come in very late. It was mid June, so there shouldn't be any problem. Jamie and I set off in a group of about five other boys. laughing and joking.

Out of the school gates we went, and up the hill onto the downs. Across the golf course, and over the racecourse we went, heading from downs to heath. After the first five miles the conversation started to flag a bit. I started to flag a bit, wondering how I would ever do ten, let alone twenty. We'd dropped back from the others. On our own. Me and the boy I loved. "Jamie?"

"I wish you'd call me 'James'," he sighed. "'Jamie' sounds so, so babyish."

"Sorry. James?"


"Are you hungry yet?"

"Soon, I reckon. But it's only eleven thirty."

"I reckon we deserve a drink, though. Look what I've got!" I'd smuggled a couple of cans of Caffreys out of the house. You know, the ones with the widget? Real Irish draught bitter beer in a can? They were Dad's


"Yeah, I thought you'd like it." I'd waited until the others had left us. I didn't want to get Jamie drunk, but I was hoping I'd be brave enough myself to talk to him, or, well, anything, really.

There's only one trouble with warm cans of beer with a widget. Opening them without getting a shower. I bent the tab to open mine, and was rewarded with a geyser of beer. I suppose it's the compressed nitrogen they put in the widget!

I managed to miss myself. Hit a lot of ground, though. Jamie laughed until he opened his. Got himself. All down his front. "Shit!" But he smiled. "I'm going to stink of beer now. Mum'll kill me."

"I could swap shirts with you. If you want."


"Yeah. My beer, my problem."

"Sounds OK."

We drank in silence. I finished my can first. Hoping it would give me courage.

It didn't. I just felt sort of beery.. But I was determined, somehow, to tell him. Somehow.

Maybe when we ate lunch.

"What do we do with the cans?"

He was right to ask that. I hadn't thought. I'm eco friendly, so an empty can isn't something to chuck away. I recycle them. But an empty and dripping can with nowhere to put it, now that was a problem.

"I'll stick them in my bag. Try and wedge them upright."

"Not got any more, have you?"

"I wish!"

"Do your parents let you drink at home?"

"You know they don't!"

I did, too. It was just that being with him took rational thought out of my head. In the warm summer sun, on a day when we didn't have school, walking in the countryside with the boy I loved. I even heard birdsong. A skylark, high in the sky, singing its heart out. Heather in bloom, Green bracken, high as your chest, with that peculiar bracken smell. Platinum hair with deep blue eyes, and that wicked smile.

Oh the smile. Jamie's smile. James's smile. No Jamie, it had to be Jamie. He was just not James. Not to me. And certainly not that day.

And he was looking deep into my eyes. I know he knew. I just know. Only he couldn't know. Because he'd either have leapt back from me, or leapt into my arms. Surely one or the other. Surely.

My heart was pounding. Anyone could hear it. Anyone. I was trembling, breathing was difficult. Not now. I couldn't tell him now. I couldn't speak. Not a word. Couldn't even catch my breath.

Which made it very peculiar to find myself with my head on his lap, lying on the ground. "Paul!" He was shouting at me. "Paul!"


"You fainted. Thank God you're all right."

"But... "

"One minute you were standing there. The next you were flat on the ground."

"Oh." I was still there with my head in his lap. "But... "

"Now we've got a problem."

"Why?" I wasn't thinking straight, I suppose.

"Paul, you fainted. You can't finish the walk, and we're in the middle of the heath."

"Give me a few moments. I mean I don't feel bad or anything."

"Yeah. Well. I don't know... "

"What am I doing with my head on your lap?" I had to know. It was so lovely, with Jamie looking down on me, looking into my eyes. The sun behind him, behind his hair, making a halo.

"It was softer than the ground."

True. So soft. And so firm, too. So wonderful. We'd wrestled and stuff, kids' stuff, but this was different. Tender. But was it... Was it what I hoped? "Feels good. Thanks." Tongue tied again

"Well, don't get used to it!" He was smiling. "Are you OK?"

"I reckon. I just came over all odd."

"Sit up, then. Gently."

I did. It was OK. I knew it would be. I knew what had made me faint. Jamie. That huge feeling of my heart leaping through my chest. The vibrating breathing. I'd had it before. Near him my body always went out of control. Always. My heart always pounded.

Only this was the first time it had made me pass out.

But the result! My head cradled in his lap. His eyes looking down at me. Did I feel something from him to me? Did I?

I wasn't imagining it? Surely I wasn't imagining it?

"It can't have been the beer, Paul?" I don't feel anything from it." He was looking worried. "I'm worried about you."

"I'm fine. Really I am." And I got to my feet to prove it.

"You sure?"

"Pretty sure. I feel OK." I did. "Thanks."

"No big deal. Just don't make a habit of it, OK?"

"I don't intend to."

"What happened?"

"It's hard to explain." I had to. Soon I had to. I didn't dare. "I started breathing too fast I think. It's OK."

"You need to see a doctor. That's what Mum would say."

"I don't, Jamie. I know what causes it."

"Then what is it?"

I must have backed myself into the corner on purpose. I couldn't get out. I didn't want to get out. We were alone on the heath, well alone with all the Sunday walkers, and stuff, but we'd strayed a little from our planed route, so no-one from school was around. "I don't want to tell you... " I half hoped he'd ask me. Half prayed he'd ask me. Half hoped he'd ignore it.


Damn. Wrong answer. Right answer? "Only, Jamie, I do want to as well."

"I wish you'd make your mind up! Must be light headed still."

"It's being near you." No I'd done it. Done it completely.

"Yeah, pull the other one!"

"It's true." I was never going to get another chance. Never. Not ever. I had to finish it.

"You sure this isn't the sun and the beer talking?"

Was this going well? Heck I'd never done it before, how could I know? I was looking his in the eyes. Face to face, about a yard apart, not daring to meet his eyes. Scared of what I would see, scared in case he felt the same, scared in case he rejected me. "I need to tell you something. About me."

"Sounds serious stuff." I heard the smile in his voice. "You're not going to tell me you're in love with me or something are you?"

What? He just asked me that? "Er, how did you know?" That wasn't what I meant to say. It wasn't. It came out all wrong.


"I do. I am. I do love you. I have. For ages. For ever."


This wasn't either reaction. This was nothing. I'd somehow always known that the lights wouldn't flash, the sun burn brighter. But I'd told him. Not in the way I wanted. But in the way that had been available. I dared look at his eyes. Still beautiful. But not looking at mine. Downcast. "I'm sorry." I moved towards him. He drew back.

I stopped.

He stopped.

His eyes were on the floor. "Paul... "

"I've made a mistake, haven't I?"

"Have I done something to make you think I'm gay? Is that it?"

Oh God. I wished I hadn't opened my mouth. "No, Jamie."

"James. My name is James."

I don't know how long I stood facing him. I know tears were starting to fall. Mine, not his. "No, James. You haven't done anything."

"It's you, then? You're gay?"

Was I? Am I? I don't know. Just Jamie. "I suppose." Shit. I'd so hoped, prayed he'd love me. We were friends dammit. Almost the same as lovers surely?

"I don't want you to love me, Paul."

"Yeah. I can feel that. I'm so sorry... "

"I don't want you to touch me, either."

I wished I'd died, not fainted. "Are we still friends?"

"I can't stop liking you, you idiot. But Paul... I mean it's... I don't understand... I mean I've not... I don't know what I mean. I'm not like that, Paul. I'm just not."

But I knew we couldn't be. Not properly. Not the same. "I wish I hadn't told you."

"Me too."

My face was wet, and I felt awful. "I'm sorry."

"Me too. I can't be the person you need me to be, Paul. I can't. It disgusts me. I'm just not like that."

"I know that now. I just so hoped." I wasn't going to start sobbing. Not for anything. "I think I'll always love you. I wish it weren't true. I just wanted to be your friend. That's all. I never wanted to love you. It happened by accident. I couldn't help it. I just do. So much that it hurts." It was lame. I knew it was lame. But I couldn't make him want me. You can't persuade someone to be gay. You can't.

He started to move away. "We'd better get going."

"I'm sorry." I wanted to grab him. To hold him in my arms. Once. Just once. To feel him soft and warm against me. I never would, now. Not ever. Even in play. Only in my head.

Suddenly I was trying to wind time back. Trying in my mind. Trying so hard. Failing. Refusing to cry. It was over. Empty. Nothing there. My beautiful boy, the boy I loved, the boy I love. The boy I could have been so happy with. For ever. Except he wasn't like that. So I couldn't. "Can we go back?"


"To where it hadn't... To where I hadn't spoken? To where we're friends?" Empty. Over. Finished. "Please, James?" Oh God I was making a fool of myself. Making it worse. Making him despise me.

His eyes were on the ground. "I don't see how, do you? I mean I can't not know, Paul. I can't." He turned in the direction we had to go.

Dying. Drowning. Trying to find the pocket of air to breathe. Trying to survive. "No. No I suppose you can't. We'd better walk, yes." I was calm, quiet. Holding on. Not crying. Only inside I was screaming. So loud. A wail. Deafening. High pitched, steel hard, fingernails on a blackboard. His name. Just his name. It echoed across the heather. The sun turned to ice and the birds stopped singing. 'Jamieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!'

This story is an experiment. To see what would happen with rejection. I guess the rejection makes it hard to like exactly. But maybe it can be appreciated. Since it was an experiment, I'd really like to know what you think, so please email me to

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