I’d slept with Ro over the years hundreds of times and he never snored until now. I was about to cover his head with a pillow if he didn’t shut up. “God, Ro, stop it!” Nudging him, he finally quit. I made a mental note to kick his butt if he ever drank again.
Waking up first, I got my guitar and played around with it. Ro rolled onto his back and said, “Do you have to play that? My head.”
Putting down my instrument, I rubbed the stubble on my chin. “Yeah...you were pretty hammered last night. What gives, Ro? I didn’t think you drank.”
When he didn’t answer, I said, “I’m sorry.”
“For ditching you. For leaving you with Winter all night. Man, she’s a handful.”
Rising up, Ro moaned, “God...do you have anything for a headache? I feel like my head’s about to explode.”
Crossing my arms, I decided to get to the point. “Look, Ro...why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
“That you’re gay. I mean, I thought we were best friends. Why would you keep that from me?”
“Where’d you get that idea?”
“Look, man, don’t try to deny it. You basically told me yourself last night. You were going on and on about how you have the hots for my dad. Do you realize how messed up that sounds? But besides that, I don’t care. I mean...dude, that’s like my life. Why would you hide it from me of all people?”
Ro sighed and didn’t answer.
“How long have you known?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, why don’t you try to figure it out? I mean...don’t you trust me?”
Looking down at his feet, Ro said, “I don’t know...I’ve always been like this. It’s just....not something I talk about.”
“Why not? Are you ashamed?”
“You don’t understand.”
I shook my head, not believing he said that. “How the hell do I not understand? I’ve lived with having gay fathers all my life and on top of that, one of my fathers is trans. Are you fucking kidding me? Do you realize what kind of grief I’ve suffered out there? And now you have the balls to tell me I don’t understand?”
Ro wouldn’t look at me. He just stared down at the floor, not saying anything.
Feeling a bit guilty for ragging on him like that, I sat close to him. “Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Do you like someone?”
He didn’t answer. I took that as a yes.
“Do I know them?”
Still didn’t answer. He was so friggin’ frustrating.
“You can tell me. We share everything. I have your back.”
“Don’t tell the guys.”
“Why? They won’t care.”
“It’ll change things. Promise me.”
When I didn’t say anything, he glared at me.
“Okay, okay...I promise.”
After a moment, I asked, “Do your parents know?”
He snorted. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.”
“You really think I’d be alive right now if my very conservative, traditional Japanese parents found out? Yeah, right.”
“Alright. I was just asking.”
“That’s what I’m saying. You don’t understand. This would be easy for you with the way your parents are. It’s just not for me.”
I squinted at him. “You don’t know anything. You think it’s easy for me? I mean, I’m straight, and I always have been, but I can tell my parents want me to explore. To not contain myself to one way or the other. Hell, I feel guilty for not being gay. I even researched it because I thought being raised by gay parents, it was strange not to be gay, but 2/3’s of all kids born to gay parents are straight. So, yeah, I’m not weird, but still...”
Ro laughed. “So, you feel guilty for being straight and I feel guilty for being gay. It’s a messed up world, isn’t it?”
“It is, bro. It is.”
I really loved being with Jackson. He was so attentive and sweet and so different from Mickey.
So, why did I feel that something was missing?
Maybe it was just me having this new relationship. I wasn’t used to it. Being with Mickey for two years probably twisted my mind. I decided not to overthink things and enjoy myself.
Walking down the halls, hand in hand, Jackson said, “Want to go ice skating this weekend? There’s a Christmas tree lighting.”
Fiddling with my hair, I said, “I don’t skate.”
“That doesn’t matter. You’ll learn.”
“What if I fall?”
Turning me around, he held my face and said, “I’ll catch you.”
Being this close to Jackson gave me shivers. My mind went blank and all I could say was, “You will?”
Sweeping me into his arms, he gave me a warm kiss that sent pleasant tingles down my body. I’d almost forgotten where I was until I heard an, “Oh my freakin' God...get a room, guys. I think I just barfed in my mouth.”
Face flushing, I pulled away.
“Hey, don’t listen to Jenny. She’s always busting on me. It’s her way of showing affection.”
I blinked shyly. “I better get to class.”
He rubbed my cheek. “Yeah...I’ve got private violin lessons now. See you at lunch?”
I nodded and he waved as he slipped into the music room.
As I was about to walk up the stairs, Mickey stepped in front of me. “We haven’t been broken up for a month, and you’re already mugging people in the halls. You better watch it. People might think you’re easy.”
I wasn’t going to let him get to me. Ever since Jackson had asked me to the dance, Mickey suddenly was interested again. “Leave me alone.”
“You don’t belong with him. You know it. I told you you’re the only one for me. Why don’t you believe me? I’m sorry. How many times do I need to say it?”
I couldn’t hear any more lies from him. Cheating on me once last year with that slut, Natasha Nunn, at a drunken party, I could forgive, but cheating on me again with my sister? No way. I stabbed him with my finger and hissed, “I’ll never forgive you, now go.”
When he wouldn’t move, I tried to slide past him, but he caught my wrists. “Babe, if you would just listen to me. I love you!”
Suddenly, Jackson burst out of the music room and yelled, “Get your fucking hands off her, asshole!”
Yanking off his jacket, throwing it on the floor, Mickey readied his fists. “What are you, her bodyguard?”
“Get out of here, Watts, before I mess up your face.”
“No, guys, stop,” I yelled. “Jackson, I’m fine. He didn’t hurt me.”
“Is that a threat?” Mickey said in a low, menacing voice.
But instead of answering, Jackson punched Mickey!
“Oh, God!” I screamed. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so helpless.
Mickey tried to punch him back, but he was no match for Jackson. Jackson blocked Mickey's right arm and kicked him in the stomach.
I covered my eyes and yelled, “Stop it, Jackson! Don't hurt him!”
By this time Jackson was on top of him, punching Mickey’s face.
A guy down the hall rushed over and pulled Jackson off of him, otherwise, I didn’t know what would have happened. Moaning, Mickey covered his face, writhing in a fetal position.
At once, Jackson came over to me and asked, “Are you okay?”
I couldn't speak. I was in total shock as my body shook from what I'd just seen. I was anything but okay.