by c m

It creeps up on you.

The awareness does.

You've been doing it for a while, but just not, somehow, noticing.

Looking at boys more than girls.

Boys instead of girls.

Blond, blue-eyes 'hes' taking your eye more than blonde blue-eyed 'shes'.

And not just blonds. Dark curls are good too. Or a bang that flops over one eye.

And not all boys, of course.

They have to be right.

Features in balance. And a smile. A nice smile is important.

And eyes that have life. A spark. A sparkle.

Good skin too. No-one's fault if they have acne, but that's a no-no.

And smooth.

Caucasian white, Mediterranean olive or Afro-Caribbean black. All fine. But must be smooth. Silky.

And toned, not muscle-bound. Gym bunnies hold no interest for you.

And the ones you really like don't walk, they flow. There's grace in every movement.

In the changing rooms before games. You get there in plenty of time. Time to see them as they change from work to play. A flash of what's been hidden.

It's only because you're curious.


You're on automatic pilot.

You've been doing it without thinking.

Until now.

You want to stop.

You want to like girls.

But you don't.

Not as much as beautiful, smooth-skinned boys with perfect features who flash you a smile.

If only they knew.

But maybe better that they don't.

Is it better or worse if they like you?

Better because you have the chance to talk. To study their beauty up close.

Worse because it makes you ache inside.

And they do like you. Most of them. You're popular. You're funny. You're nice.

You're in agony.

In bed they visit you unbidden. The ghosts of wrist-mas yet to come. It is their imagined hands that bring you to furious relief each night.

Yes, that's what brings it home. Awareness comes. Lying sticky on your fingers.

Does even one of them think of you that way?

But awareness is not an only child. His brother, shame, now haunts you too.

One on each shoulder as you wait outside the showers.

Sitting on the bench, no-one has ever taken so long to dress as you. No-one waits so patiently for that rewarding glimpse of the forbidden.

More than a glimpse sometimes. Entirely unashamed, some show their all. Your shame increases all the more.

Aware of yourself, you are now perversely unaware of others.

The looks. The whispers. The backs being turned.

You haven't noticed that they've noticed.

Until Tommy tells you.

Your best friend Tommy. Tommy who knows you better than anyone in the world.

'They've noticed, Johnny,' he tells you, 'the way you look at them.'

You bluster. You deny. But Tommy knows. He looks into your eyes and he can see.

He is gentleness itself.

'Are you gay, Johnny?'


'It's OK if you are, Johnny. I won't mind. No-one will really mind. Not if you're honest about it.'


And then,

'I don't want to be gay, Tommy.'

There it is. The words are out.







They hang there, like woodsmoke on a still, damp day.


'But are you, Johnny?'

He puts an arm around your shoulder.

'Are you?'

You can only nod. Then the tears start to flow.

And Tommy - sweet, kind Tommy - just holds you.

'It will be alright, Johnny. You'll see.'

'It will never be alright, Tommy.'

The words are ripped from you in anguish.

'What will all the boys I've been…looking at…think and say?'

'You'd be surprised, Johnny. Most couldn't care. Some are flattered. They like you Johnny. They just don't like it when you try to hide. Hide what you want. Hide what you are. That just feels creepy. Be honest and they'll forgive you.'

'I wish I could believe you, Tommy.'

'You can. Just try. And I'll be there for you, Johnny. I'll always be there for you.'

'Thank you.' No more than a whisper.

'And there's one more thing,' he says.

You wonder what. Afraid.

'One of them in particular would like to talk to you.'

'Who and why?'

You feel sick.


Your head snaps up.

'Mikey Massarella?'

Tommy nods.

Mikey Massarella.

Gazelle-eyes is how you think of him.

Mikey Massarella.

He of the tumbling curly locks and olive-tinted skin.

Mikey Massarella.

He of the broad smile and perfect teeth.

Mikey Massarella.

Who you've admired in all his naked beauty in the showers.

Mikey Massarella.

Who moves with the grace of a dancer.

Mikey Massarella.

The object of more nightly fantasies than any other.

'Why would Mikey want to talk to me?'

'You like him, don't you?'

'Yes,' The word comes out half-choked.

'He likes you too.'

'How do you know?'

'Because he told me, Johnny. He knows I'm your best friend. He knows what we're discussing. And he said if you were gay, then the two of you should talk.'

'Why? Does he want to tell me face to face to stop…looking…at him?'

'How can someone quite so bright be quite so stupid?'

I still don't get it.

'Maybe you and Mikey have more in common, not less. Talk to him.'

So you do.

Neither of you knows quite where to start.

'Hi, Mikey.'

'Hi, Johnny.'

'Sorry if I've been creeping you out.'

' 's OK. As it's you. Anything you want to tell me?'

You feel physically sick. But this you know you simply have to do.

'Ummm…I guess. Yes. It's…god….I'm gay, Mikey.'

The first time that you've said it.

It's so weird.

It's like someone else is talking.

He smiles.

'Yah. Me too, Johnny.'

You're speechless.

'I had no idea.'

'No, well, I don't broadcast it. But I don't made any secret of it either. Not to those who need or deserve to know.'

'Those who need or deserve to know?'

'My friends; my family.'

'So why me?'

'Because you deserve to know too, Johnny.'


'Why the fuck do you think?'

It's said quietly but with force. It's like being slapped.

'I've seen the way you look at me, Johnny. I've seen you in the changing rooms…in the showers…why do you think I've never called you out, Johnny?'

You're mesmerised. There are so many things happening in your brain, you can't cope. You can't order them. You can't respond.

'Talk to me Johnny,' he says.

You can't. You want to…but you can't.

'We're the same, Johnny. We both like boys. I'm pleased you're gay. I know you like me, Johnny.'

He pauses. But you still can't speak.

'Well, Johnny…I like you too. A lot.'

Words come. Finally.

'Yes. I do like you Mikey. A lot. More than a lot.'

A ghost of a smile plays round his lips. His full, soft, sexy lips.

'So….what should we do about that?'

Despite your admission, you're terrified.

'A hug…maybe?'

'A hug. Why not?'

He takes half a pace towards you. You do the same. Almost in slow motion.

Then his arms go round you.

Tentatively, you do the same.

'Properly, Johnny. Like you mean it. Like you want to…underneath all those inhibitions.'

How can he possibly know you so well?

'Breathe, Johnny.'

You hadn't even realised that you were holding your breath.

It comes out in a whoosh.

You hold him a little closer - his body warm and comforting.

'Better, Johnny.'

And now your other senses start to fire.

You see the flecks of amber in his eyes.

You smell the woody citrus of his scent.

You hear the gentle softness of his voice.

You feel the spreading warmth of his embrace.

You almost want to taste him.

You are aware in every sense.

'Good?' he asks.

All you can do is nod.

You and Mikey.

Mikey and you.

If this can be…








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