by Cynus

Chapter 4

Donovan Sharpe. I never saw that coming, and I'm still thinking it over. I'm a bit wary about trusting anyone who keeps the company of a guy like Brent, but he did fix my phone, and he did give it back to me without any questions asked . . . for free even! I guess I'll just have to find out which Donny is the real Donny, though I should ask Travis for more details about him, considering the comments Travis made the day we met.

Travis! He doesn't know I have my phone back, yet. I need to tell him. I stop on the street corner and pull out my phone, then take out the paper from my pocket with Travis' contact information on it. After inputting it into my contacts, I send him as quick a text as I can manage with the cast.

Hey Trav this is Clint. Guess what? My phone's on again.

I take a few steps and then my phone buzzes, and I look down to see Travis' number on the screen. That didn't take long. I open the message to see what it says.

Cool. So this is your number?

He sounds excited. With a smile on my face, I respond. Yeah. I might still c about getting a new phone tho. Its still shitty as fuck.

There's no immediate reply this time, so I shrug and put my phone away before I walk further down the street. After I make it a block further my phone vibrates again. So, who had your phone?

I start to type out Donovan's name, then realize he probably wouldn't want me to connect him to me, even if I didn't out him. I cant tell u. Sorry. Im not trying to keep anything from u I just promised them I wouldnt say.

Travis responds quickly, though I can't tell if he's upset or not. It's okay. I get it. Can I have your email address?

Sure. I was just goin to email u when I got home but let me text it to u. I text him my email, and I quickly receive another response from him.

Thanks. I've been writing out an email to you ever since I got home. I want to get it to you as soon as possible.

Cool dude. After that, he doesn't respond, and I focus on getting home. It takes me only a few more minutes, but before I walk through the door, I receive another notification telling me I have an email. I consider checking it on my phone, but decide against it since my laptop is just upstairs in my room.

I turn to open the door and find it locked. This is odd, since Angela should have made it home long before I did, but I grumble and pull my house keys out to unlock it. I push the door open and step inside then call out to the dark house, "Angie, are you here?"

No response. She must have finally found someone to hang out with after school. After closing the door behind me, I place my backpack at the side of the couch. Even though I have a number of homework assignments in there, I probably won't do them until the last minute anyway. I know it's irresponsible, but homework sucks.

I stop by the kitchen for a bag of chips before heading upstairs to my room. Once I'm there, I slip out of my T-shirt and kick off my shoes, then slide out of my pants. When I'm alone in my room, I'd rather be in just my boxers, no matter what. I'm simply more comfortable that way.

My laptop is plugged in and sitting on my cluttered desk. Rather than sitting at my desk, I unplug my computer and take it over to my bed, opening it up and logging in. Once my computer boots up, I open the bag of chips then go to my email. Travis' email is the only unread one in my inbox, so I click on it and start eating the chips as I read.


We've only known each other for a couple of days, but you're already the closest person in my life. Maybe that sounds weird for a kid my age to say, but my grandparents and teachers have always told me I'm too old for my age. I hope it doesn't make you dislike me.

There are some things you should know about me, but I don't like talking about them at school. Other kids don't understand, and they often make fun of me. If someone were to overhear me talking about this, I don't know what I'd do, which is why I waited to tell you through email. I can't risk other people finding out more than they already know.

My dad's gone. He left when I was two. I don't even remember him, but I remember all the people my mother has dated since. She's always bringing guys around, and they're all jerks. My mother's been married twice since my dad, and I have three half-siblings, two brothers and one sister. I'm the eldest, but they don't acknowledge me anyway. My mom barely does, and it's only when she's at my grandparents' house that she even talks to me.

She thinks I'm weak. She's told me that my whole life. She says I'm her biggest mistake, and that she's sorry she ever had me. I've had to listen to her this whole time, and I can't stand it. My grandparents, her parents, are nice, and they love me, but having my own mother hate me is awful.

That's only part of the problem, though. The way my grandparents raised me, it doesn't work out well with a lot of other kids. I don't curse, I don't make dirty jokes, and I don't relate to them. They all think I'm some kind of nerd, or worse, and they never fail to tell me that, either. It's impossible for me to make friends.

Sheila's the worst, but no one likes me. They all wish I'd rather stay quiet in the corner, so I do. It's not that I'm shy, it's that talking doesn't make a difference. They don't care what I have to say. Well, no one except for you cares, anyway.

Thanks for being my friend.

Travis Beauford

Two surprises in one day. This is interesting. I realize I haven't even touched my chips after I started the email, and I take a handful while I consider what I've just read. I don't mind that he's different, in fact, I was raised to appreciate difference. My mother drilled it into me before she died a few years ago, and my Dad picked up where she left off. It's not difficult for me to decide I'm going to continue to help Travis and be his friend, but the question is how.

I want to support him in whatever way I can, and hopefully together we'll be able to make some more friends for both of us. He's going to need a confidence boost, and the best way I know to do that is to make him feel valuable. Maybe it's time I bend my rule a little bit. I did promise Travis I'd tell him, anyway.

Okay, it's time to let Travis know I trust him. Here goes nothing. Typing painfully slow with my cast hampering me, I begin my email to him.


Hey dude. I don't write as good as you, but I'll try. English isn't my best subject, you know? Hell, I'm not sure I have any subjects I'm any good at.

Shit, I just swore. And then again. So much for trying not to curse around you, huh? I won't apologize for being myself though. I'll try and change how I speak, but I'm not gonna take anything back. That's why I'm leaving those words right where they are.

On that subject, though, I guess there's something else I should tell you about being myself. You're only the third person who knows, and one found out by accident. I'm a little nervous, but you just told me about your stuff, so I guess it's my turn.

I'm gay. I like boys, and I don't usually find girls pretty. Maybe that's one more reason I might be willing to punch Sheila in the face? Lol. Hope you're smiling now. Hope this won't change anything.

I just want you to know, your situation doesn't change anything for me. I still want to be your friend, and I hope the feeling is mutual.


I hesitate for a moment, reading it through once before I go for it and click 'send'. Anxiety takes hold immediately, and I wonder if he's reading it immediately or not. I push my computer away from me and stand up, pacing the stretch of my room at the foot of my bed. What if he rejects me? I wonder, stopping for a moment to stare at my computer.

No, he wouldn't , I realize after a moment of consideration. I shouldn't worry about Travis, who is so hungry for friendship, rejecting me. If there was ever anything to worry about, it's not this. My anxiety begins to disappear, though it doesn't go away entirely. There's still that little nibble of doubt which tells me things might not work out.

Instead of pacing, I decide to do something productive, and I sit down at my desk again, then reach into the drawer for one of my drawing pencils. I stick it in my left hand and realize I have a cast in the way. Shit. I can't draw without my left hand. I've never even tried to draw in my right, and anything I do will look horrible.

Sighing in frustration, I return the pencil to the drawer and step away from the desk. Maybe I should do some schoolwork. After laughing at the absurdity of the idea, I cast a nervous glance back at my computer and realize I might as well. I need something to distract me, after all.

Taking the stairs two at a time, I run down and retrieve my backpack. I walk back upstairs with less energy, then stop halfway up. If I work upstairs, I'll be distracted by the computer the whole time and won't get anything done, and I'll still be anxiously waiting for Travis' response.

I settle down on the couch and take out my books. This will have to do.

The door opens shortly after five, and I'm completely engrossed in my homework. Okay, I'm totally lying. I've been watching television for almost an hour, and I've barely touched my homework. Yeah, I know, I'm a shitty student. So sue me.

"Clint?" My sister asks as I hurriedly press the power button on the remote. This is kind of embarrassing, but I really like that one animated show on PBS for the little kids? The one with the talking cat? Yeah . . . that cat. I really would prefer if my sister never found out I watch it, and naturally, I deflect.

"Angie!" I say enthusiastically, standing up and stretching, showing off the complete lack of muscles in my naked torso. "What took you so long to get home?"

Angie pauses with her hand on the doorknob and stares at me. "You actually sound happy to see me. Hell, you look happy. You have a good day?"

I grin, glad she didn't seem to notice what I was watching. "Yeah, actually. My phone got fixed, I have a new friend, and I have a date on Sunday."

If Angie's eyes widen any further, I think they'll pop out of her head. She stumbles over her words for a second and then clears her throat before asking, "You have a date on Sunday? With who? You don't know any girls yet."

Shit. Maybe that was a stupid thing to say. My smile fades, and I shake my head, crossing my arms over my chest defiantly. "I can't tell. It's a secret."

"Yeah, sure it is," Angie replies, rolling her eyes. "I bet you don't really have a date. A guy asked me for my number today, though. He's so cute, and athletic."

"And who is it?" I ask, raising an eyebrow. She so easily shoots me down and then expects me to believe she's doing so much better? Fuck that.

In true Angie fashion, she matches my stance perfectly, crossing her arms over her breasts and staring at me with equal defiance. "I'm not telling if you're not."

I sigh dramatically and shrug. "Fine, then I guess I'll find out when he doesn't ask you out and you complain about it."

She scowls and growls—she scrowls at me. "Bastard."

I snort. No amount of scrowling is going to get to me. "Nope. I know who my father is. Do you?"

"We're twins, doofus," Angie replies, dropping her scrowl.

"Sometimes I question that."


"Guacamole face."

We stare at each other for a moment, until I start smiling and she starts laughing. When she's done she says, "Seven-layer bean dip was better."

"It was, wasn't it?" I reply with a wicked grin. "But that was pretty good. I like the turdbucket thing, too. Makes me think you just called me a toilet."

Angie chuckles and moves to sit down on the couch next to where I've been sitting. I sit down next to her and she says, "You're the best person to try material on in the world."

I nod emphatically. "I bet no one understands our relationship."

"Yeah, probably not," Angie replies. She reaches for the remote and asks, "Anything good on TV?"

"Nothing you'd like," I say neutrally.

As she picks up the remote and points it at the television she asks, "Why are you in your boxers?"

Without skipping a beat, I say, "I was watching porn."

"Eww . . ." Angie drops the remote to the couch and shudders. She looks at me and then shudders again, more dramatically this time.

"Heh," I say with a toothy grin. "Made you think of me naked."

"Jesus!" She yells, then reaches for one of the throw pillows on the couch and buries her face in it. She screams into the pillow then pulls it away again and glowers at me. "You're such a freak!"

My grin only widens as I reply, "And as you reminded me a moment ago, we're twins."

Angie snorts and says, "You're no longer the only one questioning it."

We share a laugh and then I ask, "So, what took you so long to get home?"

"I went out with the girls to Flynn's Soda Shop . They have good milkshakes there, by the way. Anyway, that's where the guy asked me for my number."

"Oh, nice. I hope he's the one for you."

She shook her head and sighed. "Probably not. He's older, but hey, not every freshman gets to date a junior. I get bragging rights at least."

"That's crazy. A junior, huh?" My thoughts travel to Donovan and I wonder at the strange coincidence of us both having juniors interested in us. I say under my breath, "We have more in common than I thought . . ."

Angie gives me a funny look. "What did you say? You just mumbled."


"Clint . . ."

The front door opens again as my dad walks into the house. He takes one look at us and sighs deeply. "Hey, you two. Are you fighting again?"

"Of course not, Dad," I say innocently. "We're just having a great get to know you, session. Angie is my favorite twin sister I have."

Angie punches my right arm. Hard. "You little fucker. Don't think I'm going to let you get away that easily."

My dad knows where to fight his battles and knows better than to get between my sister and I when we're like this. He ignores the punch my sister threw, and also ignores my pseudo-innocence. Instead he changes the subject as a broad smile creeps onto his face. "I hope you're both hungry. I was thinking pizza tonight."

Angie answers while I nod. "Sounds good to me."

My dad's expression tells me how grateful he is that my sister and I no longer appear to be at each other's throats. "There's a pizza place a few blocks from here. I thought we could go out to eat, rather than delivery."

I'm a big fan of eating at restaurants. Honestly, if I could find a way to make a career out of it, I'd drop out of high school right now and do it. I nod enthusiastically and say, "I'm definitely okay with that."

Dad smirks and replies, "You'll have to put some clothes on, Clint."

"Do I have to?" I whine dramatically.

"Probably," he replies in deadpan. "I think the sign on the window said something about that."

"Fine," I say as I walk toward the stairs. "But I'm only putting socks on."

"Clint . . ."

I turn and flash him a great big grin. "Just kidding. Sheesh. Give me a sec and I'll be right down."

The drive to the pizza place, Salvatici's , doesn't take us long at all, and the parking lot is bustling. As we search for a parking space, several people get in our way and prevent us from taking the open ones. Dad is getting more frustrated by the second, and I take the opportunity to try and calm him down by engaging him in conversation.

"This place looks pretty good," I remark as I give the building a good look over. The walls are constructed of dark wood, and the ceiling is slanted with dark shingles, but the impressive parts are the windows and doorways, which sport carved, flowing arches adorned with twisting flowers and vines draping over the top. The windows themselves are tinted, dulling the comfortable lighting over the tables inside.

"Yeah, that's what I thought, too," Dad says as he starts moving toward another open stall. "I had the window down when I drove past earlier, and the scent of that crust and tomato sauce made my mouth water."

Angie chuckles and says, "Leave it to Dad to be driven by his stomach."

My dad glances at me briefly for support. "It's a man thing, isn't it, Clint?" He turns his attention back to parking and curses when another driver darts into the spot.

"I don't know about that," I reply.

"Don't men think with another part of their bodies?" Angie asks innocently.

Dad gives her a sidelong glance and says, "Aren't you a little young to be thinking like that?" As soon as the question leaves his tongue, he spies another open stall and maneuvers toward it around a trio of people walking toward the door. His enthusiastic grunt seems out of place in the middle of the conversation, and it makes me giggle like a little kid.

"If fifteen is too young to think like that, then why do teenagers have sex?" Angie asks, crossing her arms over her chest.

My dad pulls into the parking stall at last and lets out a triumphant yell. He then turns around in his seat and locks gazes with Angie. "Fair point. Are you having sex?"

"Dad . . ." I protest, putting my hand up to stop him, "please. I don't want to think about Angie having sex."

"What, the thought of me naked disturbs you?" Angie asks.

"Okay, this has taken a wrong turn—" Dad begins.

"Butt out, Dad. This is between the twins," I say before turning to Angie. "I wouldn't find that disturbing, just the idea of you having sex. I've heard how loud you are when you mas—"

"All right! That's enough!" Dad scrells. I'll never get used to it, honestly.

"Dad! We were just getting started," Angie protests, pouting.

"As your father, I don't want to hear any of that," Dad replies with a shudder. "Just promise me you two are being careful? If I don't hear about it, don't have to pick you up from the police station or the hospital, and don't have to help you pick out baby clothes in nine months, I'll be all right. Who created teenagers, anyway?" He turns back around in his seat and finally turns the car off. Angie and I share a look and then high five each other. Every time we make Dad uncomfortable, it's a win. Unfortunately, he caught the movement in the rearview mirror and he's back to screlling again. "Was that a fucking high five?"

"No . . ." Angie and I say in unison.

"All right," Dad says quietly. "This ends right now."

I cross my arms over my chest, mimicking Angie's stance. "Dad, I thought you'd be happy Angie and I are finally getting along."

"Yeah, Dad." Angie backs me up, and without looking I know she's wearing an identical expression to my own.

"No, I mean this collaboration to embarrass your father," Dad says with a grin. "That's what stops. We're in public. You can do that at home."

Angie and I are again in sync when we answer, "Yes, Dad."

"All right," he says excitedly. "Let's get some food."

They start to get out of the car but a vibration in my pocket stalls me, and I pull out my phone and see that I've received a message from Travis. Excited and anxious, I unlock my phone and read the message.

My heart pounds in my chest and my smile fades completely as I read it. Angie notices I haven't left the car, and she pokes her head back in through her open door and asks, "Clint, what's wrong? When did you get your phone back?"

I read the text for a fifth time, hoping I'm reading it wrong, that Travis is kidding, or that I'm missing part of it. But after a moment, I have to accept it means what it says.

Stay away from me. We can't be friends.

"I think . . ." I pause, fighting past the lump in my throat, "I think I might have just lost my appetite."

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This story was published before the 2017/2018 Writing Challenge "Inspired by a Picture: Locker" was issued. There are two places to register your opinion. The first is at the foot of chapter 1 because that is where the locker 'action' took place. The better place is at the end of the final chapter after reading the entire tale.

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