Excerpt for Carried Away by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Carried Away

Raphael Farmer





Copyright 2017 Raphael Farmer

Published by Raphael Farmer at Smashwords








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Acknowledgements

I wish to thank the awesome Holden Sheppard, who beta-read this for me, and my talented cover designer, Angie, who did an excellent job.












Carried Away

I am a friendless turd.


Well, a friendless fourteen year old boy, so close enough. You might think I’m exaggerating with the friendless comment but I assure you that I meant what I said. I thought it was maybe due to my pudgy and bland appearance (brown hair, black eyes, so dull) but I realised a while ago that it wasn’t as simple as that.


Once I get off the school bus in the morning, I make my way to the Year 9 lockers. I always hope I’ll bump into some of my classmates so I can strike up a conversation with them. This morning, Steve happens to be at his locker which is next to mine. I take a deep breath and prepare my warmest smile.


‘Hey Steve, how’s it going?’ I say, waving at him and feeling stupid for doing so.


‘Mason, hi,’ Steve says, not looking at me. ‘Good, you?’


I feel like he doesn’t really want to know how I am but I let this wash off me.


‘I’m good,’ I say, going through the motions of opening my locker to grab my stuff. ‘I’m not looking forward to that stupid test we have in Maths this morning.’ I make a face as he glances at me but he doesn’t react much to it.


‘Yeah, Smith’s such a tosser,’ Steve says. ‘Can’t stand that prick.’


I actually like Mr. Smith. He is strict and nobody ever causes trouble when he’s around. I dislike Maths but at least I learn stuff in his class.


‘Oh, yeah, he’s a bit harsh,’ I say. I want Steve to keep talking to me.


‘Yeah.’ Steve closes his locker and hoists his bag over his shoulder. ‘Anyway, see you in class, mate.’


He doesn’t wait for a reply.


‘See ya,’ I say, his back already turned to me.


Why couldn’t he keep talking to me?


What’s so wrong with me that he couldn’t keep talking?


#


I couldn’t wait for lunch time.


I go straight from Maths class to the remote area at the back of the school. That’s where they’re planning to build more classrooms. They have placed mobile classrooms while they wait for the summer school holidays to begin construction. For now, this area is my safe haven in this dump.

I thought this year was going to be different. I changed schools and started Year 9 here at Trident College. I had this plan of doing my best to finally make some friends.


I failed miserably.


First day of school, I was there in the homeroom, looking the best I could and making sure to have a smile on at all times. Maybe that was my first mistake because a lot of my classmates looked at me like I was a weirdo.


I didn’t let that stop me though. I waited for opportunities in all of my classes and joined in conversations. Whether they talked about the latest TV show on Netflix or whatever festival they were getting hyped up for, I had a comment for everything. Unfortunately, none of them were interested in what I had to say. Maybe it was because they could sense that I had no passion for what they were talking about or maybe they just didn’t find me interesting enough.


After a while, I kind of gave up. I thought to myself, ‘If they want to talk to me, they will talk to me.’ And that was another mistake to add up to my tally. No one cared whether or not I spoke. I was invisible. I would get the odd ‘hi’ or ‘how’s it going?’ but no response was required on my part.


So, in the end, I thought it would be best to play the part I was given and hope that my adult life would be different. I would only need to wait a few years and then maybe people will be interested in talking to me.


Maybe it sounds sad.


I wish I had a choice in the matter.


#


And it’s peanut butter sandwich.


‘My favourite,’ I mumble to myself with a bit of excitement. When you’re lonely, you tend to speak to yourself. I did make a deal with myself though: if ever I hear a reply in my head, I’d seek help. ASAP.


Here how my lunch break usually goes: I find a nice spot behind one of the mobile classrooms, in between two of them. I tend to choose a spot with a decent view of the town. Something about the view soothes my mind. I feel relaxed.


Once I have chosen my spot, I put on my earphones and choose one of my custom made playlists from my iPod. I listen to all kinds of music but I always seem to gravitate back to Connor King. A nineteen year old boy. British popstar. Not only does he make awesome music but he is also hot as fire.


With music in my ears, I forget about everything and enjoy my food. Twenty five minutes of peace. My mind imagines Connor King singing to me, telling me how much he wants to be with me. We end up doing very nasty things to each other, in the best possible ways. That keeps me going for the rest of the day.


Two weeks ago, I was at the cafeteria. I didn’t bring my lunch that day because I had made up my mind to queue up and see what was on offer. It was also a good excuse to sit at someone’s table and strike up a conversation. At least, that’s how I pictured it in my mind. When I got to the cafeteria, there was already a long queue. I joined up and kept my head high in case I made eye contact with the people around me. They were all busy chatting amongst themselves and I didn’t know any of them.


When it was my turn to pick my food, I realised that my home made lunch would’ve been an infinitely better choice. What they had on offer was either overcooked and drenched in oil or looked like it was cooked hours earlier and would taste like cardboard. I went with overcooked. Sometimes it was nice to eat the worst food. Made me feel better, at least in the short term. Regrets would be for later.


I spent a few minutes walking around with my tray, looking for an invitation to sit somewhere but none came. I found a spot at a table with some Year 8s who threw me dirty looks as I sat down. Even the younger ones didn’t even want to give me a chance.


I thought this experience had been a total failure but then I caught the eye of two people at a nearby table. There were classmates I talked to fairly regularly sitting there. I smiled at the couple of them who had seen me, one of them being Steve who had his locker next to mine. They smiled back and went back to chatting to their friends. I stared at them, dumbfounded. That was when I had made the decision.


‘I’m never sitting in here again,’ I mumbled to myself as I shoved particularly fatty beef lasagne in my mouth. ‘Lingering in the cafeteria is sad. I might be a loser, but I refuse to be a sad loser.’


The Year 8s next to me began chuckling and I realised I hadn’t mumbled that last part. Fuck them. Fuck Steve. Fuck everybody.


I found the mobile classrooms while wandering around the next day during lunch break. I never had any classes there. Only the Year 11s and 12s had.


For two and a half weeks, for twenty five minutes, I was not alone. I had my music, sometimes a book to read and I watched the town wondering what people there were up to. I don’t know if they are lonely thoughts, but they are the ones I have.


Today, however, it seems that my safe haven has been breached.


I barely see it happen: a brown haired boy rushing to the mobile classroom’s back wall and crouching against it. He motions for me to stay quiet. I was about to take another bite of my sandwich when he appeared and now I am frozen in place. You see, this isn’t just any boy.


This is Asher Raines, aka the boy with the coolest name ever and also the boy I’ve had a crush on ever since I saw him on the first day of school this year. Everything about him made my heart go crazy: his mischievous brown eyes, his smile, his summer skin and his hair that sometimes matted to his forehead when he was sweating.


After a moment, I find the strength to unpause my body and pull out my earphones. I also manage to put away my half eaten sandwich. I watch Asher take a peek around the corner and break into a grin as he turns back around.


‘Hello?’ I say, tentatively. Part of me wonder if I have fallen asleep and if this is a dream. If it is, please don’t let it stop.


‘Hey,’ Asher says back with a husky voice that melts everything in me. My skin is on fire. ‘You won’t give me away, will you? I have to hide here until the bell goes.’


‘I would never let you go,’ is what I want to say but of course, I am not that stupid. So instead I ask, confused, ‘What? ’


Asher can’t control himself and giggles. ‘I pulled off a prank. It went well. Too well, as a matter of fact.’


‘What did you do?’


‘I sent a text from Sam’s phone, do you know him?’


I do. He’s a dickhead from my Maths class who always pulls the piss out of me. He’s also friends with Jeremy, who is the worst. I feel like this would be too much of an explanation to give Asher right now so I nod.


‘Well,’ continues Asher, ‘His Dad is very annoyed with him. He didn’t like the text he received.’


I guess my face shows my response as Asher quickly shakes his head.


‘I know it’s a shit thing to do to someone,’ he says. ‘But a few days ago he sent a dirty meme to my Mum. That was uncool. So I thought I’d pay back the favour. That’s fair, isn’t it?’


I smile, enjoying his attitude. ‘I suppose,’ I start to say. ‘Yeah, it is actually.’


‘Glad you approve,’ he grins. Then he peers around the corner again and gets up. ‘Coast’s clear I think. Thanks for not giving away my position.’


I don’t want him to go. I thought he was staying until the bell. But all of this stays in my throat. ‘No worries. I don’t think many people know about this place.’


‘I’ll catch you later,’ says Asher as he gives me a thumbs-up and leaves.


#


I was kicking myself for a while after lunch.


I couldn’t believe I didn’t try harder to speak with Asher. This was the first time we’d actually interacted. He’s in my homeroom but I never dared speak to him. I was too into him. I was too scared. And now, I was given the chance to actually speak to him without anybody watching and I completely blew it. I’m an idiot.


As I make my way to my Media class, I remember that Asher is in that same class. I try not to hope too much for another interaction but maybe he’ll say hi to me. Or maybe I can say hi to him and he’ll be like ‘Come be my friend’.


Yeah, I do try not to be a sad loser.


When I get to class, half of the students are already there talking and gossiping. I find my seat at the far end of the class, all by myself of course.


In Media, you do need to do group work but you can also opt for individual work if you can negotiate that with your teacher. I have done so already. Ms Kia is a nice first year-out teacher.


She understood and nodded. She did give my Dad a call though to let him know that I wanted to work by myself. I had to convince my Dad that I would do better on my own than with others holding me back. He seemed to believe me on that as I’ve been getting good grades in Media.


But he did ask if everything was okay at school.


I lied, of course.


By the time Ms Kia is ready to start the class, I notice Asher is missing. I wonder if Sam ended up catching up with him. He is already here and he’s sitting with his mates. What if he has beaten Asher up and left him in a pool of blood or something?


Before I can get carried away with my train of thought, Asher walks in with a grin. Sam glares back at him. Asher pokes his tongue out as Ms Kia asks him to find a seat. That’s when I see Asher scan the room. He finds me. He smiles, I am melting. He walks towards me. Oh God. Oh my God.


He sits next to me.


‘Hey Mason,’ he says. ‘Mind if I join you?’


I am stunned.


‘You know my name?’ I ask, my eyes wide.


He almost laughs.


‘Of course, I do. You’re in my homeroom and this class, dummy.’


#


My face is on fire. I’m sure it is.


‘Quiet, boys,’ Ms Kia says as she gives the whiteboard a couple of knocks. ‘We need to get started. We’re running behind schedule.’


I think my heart is about to explode.


I am at the dinner table with my Dad and we’re eating our traditional Thursday night spaghetti and meatballs. He is telling me about one of his work colleagues who has been a dickhead to him lately when suddenly my mobile phone springs to life. Somebody’s calling me.


‘Sorry Dad, I need to answer this,’ I say quickly as I get up from the table. ‘It’s for a school project. Media.’


‘I thought you wanted to work on your own in Media,’ Dad throws at me. ‘Didn’t you say others would only slow you down or words to that effect?’ Is he doing this on purpose?


Asher is calling me!


‘I’ll explain later, Dad,’ I say as I rush to my room. I make sure to close my door before doing a slide motion on my mobile phone screen. ‘Hey, Asher.’


Earlier today in Media, we talked. I actually managed to have a conversation with him. It was awkward at first as I was unsure of what to say. I began mumbling something about the project we were supposed to work on.


‘This can be so frustrating,’ I said. ‘Sometimes I wish I could be as strong as Jessica Jones and smash the screen to pieces when it gives me that stupid error box message.’ I immediately regretted saying I wanted to be like Jessica Jones. He’s going to think I’m a stupid nerd, I thought.


‘That’s a cool show!’ he said, nodding. ‘I wasn’t sure about it at first. I only kept watching because of David Tennant. He used to be in Doctor Who. You ever seen that?’


I had practiced for this very moment. I binged watched that many shows that I was fairly certain I could talk about any of them.


‘I’ve seen the first few series, yeah. It went downhill once the first showrunner left, I think.’


‘You think so too? I thought I was the only one,’ he said with his addictive grin.


We kept talking about the show and how we would rank the Doctor’s companions.


Rose came first for both of us.


I felt like there were fireworks in my chest.


We talked so much that Ms Kia had to tell us off a few times. I think she tried her best to leave us alone. Something about the way she looked at me made me think she was secretly happy that I was talking to someone in the class.


Before the end of the period though, Asher said we should trade phone numbers. I couldn’t believe it. He just asked. I realised that this was finally happening. I was becoming friends with Asher Raines. My life was about to get better. Much better.


I didn’t expect him to call. Actually, I don’t even know what I expected really.


‘What you up to?’ He asks, his husky voice sounding incredibly sexy over the phone. Thank God he can’t see me right now.


‘Having dinner with my Dad. What about you?’


‘Oh, sorry,’ he says. ‘I should’ve texted first. Do you want me to call later?’


‘No!’ I say more forcefully than anticipated. ‘I mean, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I was done anyway.’


I can hear him laughing. Did I just make Asher laugh? Am I dead? Is this Heaven?


‘Isn’t your Dad going to be annoyed with you?’


‘Nah, he’s cool,’ I say, trying to sound nonchalant.


‘You’re lucky,’ says Asher. ‘My Dad would not be okay with me leaving the dinner table to be on my phone.’


I think I hear a tinge of sadness in his voice. I want to ask more about it but I decide that maybe now is not the best time.


‘So,’ I say, trying to find something to talk about. ‘Is Sam still annoyed with you?’


‘Yeah, probably,’ he says. ‘He’s not talking to me.’ I hear crunching on the line. He’s eating chips, I think. ‘He’ll get over it. What he did was just as bad.’


‘Mhm,’ I picture him on his bed, in nothing but his boxers, lying on his stomach, his feet crossed in the air, eating through a packet of Doritos and talking to me. It’s probably not what he’s doing exactly but it is nice to think of him that way.


‘Thanks for calling me.’ I say the words before I think and realise it is not something I am meant to say out loud. Fuck.


‘What?’ Asher asks. ‘Why are you thanking me?’


‘Uh, I mean,’ I am stumbling now. Damn it. Damn it! ‘I didn’t think you’d call. I thought you’d be more of a … text person.’


‘Oh,’ he says. ‘Nope. I actually don’t like texting. It’s too annoying to text, don’t you think? I much prefer to talk on the phone.’


Phew.


‘Yeah, I agree,’ I sit on the edge of my bed, trying to catch my breath. ‘It was cool to hang out in Media.’ I lay down on my bed, staring at the ceiling. I wish Asher was next to me right now.


‘Sure was,’ he says. ‘You’re not bad at this Media stuff, huh?’


‘I dunno about that,’ I say. Honestly, I think the others just suck so much that I seem to be good at it. ‘I hope so.’


‘Actually, that’s partly why I’m calling,’ Asher says. ‘I have a bit of a favour to ask.’


‘Sure, what is it?’


‘Well,’ starts Asher, ‘I kind of bombed my last project. You know, the one where we have to edit the raw footage that Ms Kia gave us? I wasn’t really listening when she told us how to do it and now mine is overdue. Do you think you could help me with that?’


‘Yeah, that shouldn’t be a problem,’ I say, my heart growing wings as I figure that I will be hanging out with Asher again. ‘When is it due?’


‘She gave me until tomorrow, midnight.’


‘Oh, right,’ I say, my heart’s wings clipped. ‘Lunch time is too short to complete the task. What about after school? I think the Media lab is open for forty-five minutes after the last bell.’


‘I have football and I can’t get out of it,’ Asher says with a sigh.


‘Um, well,’ I hesitate at first but then decide that might as well go for gold. ‘I do have Adobe Premiere at home. If you wanted to, you could come over after your football practice and…’ I trail off, hoping he will agree to it. It actually would be awesome as Friday is Dad’s late shift at work. He isn’t home until seven.


‘That works!’ He says with glee. ‘Awesome, thanks Mason. You’re the best!’


My heart soars to the stars.


Asher Raines is coming over tomorrow.


#


Waiting for the last bell can be such a drag.


As soon as it rings, I rush out of school. I make my way to the supermarket near my house and grab a few things for the afternoon. Chips, choc chip cookies, soft drinks and some ice cream. I might have gone overboard but this is stressing me out. I want this afternoon to be perfect.


I know I have to be careful though, I don’t want him to think I’m acting as though we’re on a date. That would probably be bad.


I mean, I’m hoping this is going to lead us there eventually. But to start off as friends is probably the best option. Even if we just end up being friends, I’d be okay with that. Well, not totally okay with it but I wouldn’t have a choice, would I? Oh God, I am getting way ahead of myself.

I haven’t had a great experience with boys so far.


I realised I liked them when I was ten. I remember I was in the school yard, playing hide and seek with my friends. We were laughing, running around, and I used to think that was the best time ever. Then I began to notice one of my friends.


His name was Brett. A brown-eyed, blond-haired boy. He was South African. I remember thinking he looked cool. I wanted to be friends with him. I wanted to be his closest friend. I remember how my heart started beating way faster when he was around me.


Then I thought about kissing him on the lips.


I did it.


It was when we played wrestling. I pecked him on the lips and when he freaked out I pretended that it was a tactic to win. I don’t think my friends bought that at all. If the look they gave me wasn’t confirmation enough, none of them played wrestling with me again after that.


That’s when I knew something was not right.


Boys were meant to think about girls that way.


Not other boys.


I did my best to bury those feelings deep. I didn’t know what they were but I knew I shouldn’t be asking anybody about them.


Thankfully we had the Internet.


I remember the exact words I looked up at the time:


‘Boys who like boys.’


A word kept coming up: Gay.


I read about it.


Then I cried about it.


I didn’t want to be gay. I wanted to be like my friends.


No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t shake it off. I started noticing boys more and more. I couldn’t look at some of my classmates in the eyes. I was so scared they would see the gay in me.


So, I stayed away. I stopped talking to my friends. I thought it would be best to let them go before they let me go. It would hurt less.


It became a problem and my teachers noticed.


My Dad was called in and I hated that I was putting him through this.


He had already lost Mum a year before my 8th birthday.


I told him that I just didn’t get along with my friends. I told him I was fine.


I never had the courage to tell him the truth about me.


I don’t know if I ever will.


#


As I open the front door of my house, I feel my breath cut short.


Standing before me, in a t-shirt and jeans, is Asher Raines. His hair is slightly matted to his forehead. I fight the urge to kiss him right here and now.


‘Glad you found my house easily,’ I say, inviting him in.


‘You gave me pretty specific directions,’ he says with a smile. ‘I would have to be retarded not to find your place.’


I grin at his joke and realise that we’re alone in my house. I get hot and do my best to think of unsexy things otherwise I’ll be in trouble.


‘By the way,’ he says, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t have time to have a shower after practice. I just washed my face. Hope that’s okay. I don’t stink, do I?’


I swallow hard. I can smell his body odour, mixed in with deodorant, and it is intoxicating. I want to take a deep breath of it but restrain myself somehow. I shake my head at him.


‘It’s all good,’ I manage to say. ‘Do you want something to eat? I got a few things after school.’


‘How hungry did you think I’d be?’ He laughs as he sees the spread on the kitchen counter.


‘But good choices there, Mason.’ He grabs the packet of chips. ‘I’m addicted to these.’


I smile, happy with myself.


We spend some time eating chips and a few choc chip cookies. He tells me all about his football practice. I am so happy listening to him talk.


Then we move to the office where the home computer is. I launch the editing software and we work on his project. Admittedly, I do most of the work as he really had not listened one bit to Ms Kia. I even wonder if he’ll pass the class. It takes us about an hour or so to get the project done.


I save his work and put it on his thumb drive. I feel a shiver when I hand it to him. Our fingers touch and I can’t help but enjoy the moment. He looks at me when it happens and it almost makes my heart stop. Does he notice? Can he guess what I am thinking? Can he see the truth in my eyes?


‘Do you have any games on here?’ he asks.


I really do get carried away sometimes.


‘Not on the computer,’ I say. ‘But I do have a PlayStation 4 in my room.’


‘Oh, sweet!’ He says. ‘Can we go play something?’


My theory is that I am in a coma and this is my mind making me live out my fantasy.


How else can I explain what is happening to me? Before yesterday, I had no friends, I had accepted that loneliness would be my companion until I reached adulthood and even then I thought I’d still be a lonely loser. But then Asher Raines literally walked into my life. Everything is going so fast… and I can’t help but feel that there’s something up with him.


I am here on the floor, leaning against my bed, and next to me is the boy I have been dreaming about. I chance a few quick glances at him and every time I do, my body reacts. My skin wants to touch his skin. My lips are craving his body. My heart wants more of him. More details about his life.


We play in silence for a while, which is strange. He’s been chatty ever since I’ve known him.


But I’m unsure of what to say, too. There’s something odd in the air.


‘Can I ask you something?’ says Asher, finally.


‘Sure, what is it?’ I say, my heart making my head ache.


‘What’s the deal with you and Jeremy?’


‘What do you mean?’ I ask. ‘He dislikes me, there’s not much more to it.’


He puts down the controller and looks at me.


‘He talked to me after Media. Sam told him I sat with you,’ he says. I think I’m beginning to sweat. ‘He wanted to warn me about you.’


‘What did he say?’ I ask, my voice betraying me.


‘You know what he said, don’t you?’ Asher looks at me with those brown eyes. I want to freeze this moment. I wonder if I’ll be able to stare into his eyes like that again after I answer his question.


I said I had made no friends since starting at Trident College.


That’s technically a lie.


There was one student who actually went to the same school I did before moving to Trident.


He saw me at lunch time and approached me.


His name was Jeremy.


We bonded over the fact that we were newbies to the school. We sat at a table and exchanged stories. We talked about the teachers we had had in common, who we disliked and who disliked us.


I was having a good time with him.


Over the following weeks, we talked every day.


We would meet in the morning, before homeroom, and walk down to the local Deli to have a snack and a chat. He had issues at home. His Dad used him as a punching bag and his Mum didn’t care. It was awful to listen to his stories but he liked to confide in me. I liked that. I felt like he was someone I could trust.


I was wrong.


One day, I built up enough courage to tell him about me. It was killing me to keep this secret to myself. I tried talking to people online but it didn’t help. It didn’t do a thing. It was as though I needed to see the approval and understanding in someone’s eyes, face to face.


After getting some pastries from the Deli, I told him.


‘I’m gay,’ I said.


He stopped for a second, looked at me, and looked away.


‘Oh, right,’ he said.


And that was all he said to me.


I wanted to ask if he was okay with it. I wanted to ask if we were still friends. I wanted to tell him that he could ask me anything he wanted.


But I didn’t. His whole body language changed. The whole atmosphere around us changed. It was not a long walk to school from the Deli but it might’ve as well been hours away. Jeremy turned cold on me.


He never spoke to me as a friend after that.


Shortly after, I also began hearing, in hushed whispers, the nickname he had given me.


Faggot.’


#


‘He really did that to you?’ Asher asks, his eyes unreadable to me. I think I am too scared to even try to analyse what he could possibly be thinking.


‘I was stupid,’ I say. ‘I should’ve kept it a secret. Maybe things would be different now. Maybe I’d have more friends.’ I feel like the sad loser I don’t want to be but I opened the flood gates now. Don’t think there’s a way back.


‘It wasn’t stupid,’ says Asher. ‘He’s the stupid one for reacting the way he did.’


I look at Asher and I know he can see the tears in my eyes.


‘You mean … you don’t care?’ I ask, unsure of what I am supposed to say.


‘Of course not, it’s no big deal,’ he says, smiling. ‘I mean, it’s not my thing but I’m not going to hate you for something you have no control over.’


I don’t think he realise that he has both made me very happy and also hurt me in the worst way possible right now. All I can do is nod and look down at my controller. My character had died a while ago now. I can relate to that.


‘Really, it’s fine,’ Asher says. ‘You don’t have to worry.’


I nod again and wipe away a tear that has escaped my control.


He puts a hand on my shoulder. I still feel a thrill at his touch.


Even if it means nothing.


We stay silent for a little while.


Then I catch him cracking a smile.


‘Okay, so, who do you rate in school?’ he asks.


I look at him, confused. Is he asking what I think he’s asking?


‘You know, who do you find hot?’ he says. ‘Do you have a crush on anyone?’


Seriously? How can he not know the answer to that?


‘Well, sort of,’ I say.


‘Sort of? What’s that supposed to mean?’ He grins. ‘Either you do or you don’t.’


I look away, wanting things to be different.


‘I do,’ I say. Then I look at him, right in the eyes. I’m glad I’m sitting because otherwise I’d buckle and fall to the floor. ‘You.’


I don’t know if it’s genuine or not but he looks taken aback. Does he really not know how hot he is?


‘Really?!’ he finally says, grinning. ‘Me? Whoa.’ He slugs me in the arm. ‘That’s pretty cool.’ He seems happy with himself. ‘So you rate me more than Jordan Matthews?’


‘Oh yeah, you’re way better.’


‘More than Dave Webster?’


‘No competition there. You win hands down.’


He nods and brushes off his shoulders.


‘You have good taste,’ he says, smiling.


Though it is quite cool to have this conversation with him, his reaction to it is feeling a lot like what knife stabs to my heart would be like.


So I stay quiet, looking back down at the floor. Maybe he’ll understand that it’s hard for me to be in this situation. Both accepted and rejected at the same time.


But then I feel him sliding closer to me.


‘Do you really like me?’ he asks, for the first time sounding unsure of himself.


This makes me look back at him. Man, he is really close.


‘Yes, of course,’ I say. ‘Everything about you is just … awesome.’ I really wish I could be more poetic. I really want him to know how he makes me feel. I’m such a moron.


He stares at me, his face so close to mine. I can feel his breath on my lips.


Wait … what’s happening?


He stays right here, close to me.


I … take a chance.


I get closer too.


I feel my lips touch his.


He doesn’t pull away.


Holy shit – what is happening?!


His lips part and mine do too.


I taste him. I taste his saliva, the wetness of his tongue. And holy mother of God, he tastes so good. I want to eat his mouth. I can feel my insides burning. I want more. God, I want more.


But he breaks the kiss and looks at me. For a second there, he looks so innocent and I feel like a monster. Then he smiles and it makes me want to fly. He undoes the button of his jeans.


‘Do you want to…?’ he doesn’t finish his question. Maybe he’s too scared to say it out loud. Scared that I might say no.


I begin to wonder if this is where he wanted us to get to all along. Has he heard the story from Jeremy that I was gay and concocted this plan to get me to suck him off? Was this all for a blowjob?


‘Yeah, I want to,’ I say. I can feel my heart breaking as I move down to his crotch. This isn’t how my fantasy with him went in my head. In my fantasy, we are both into each other. We both want each other.


But if what I suspect is true then it is the one and only time I’ll ever have Asher Raines in my bedroom and the one and only time I’ll ever get to be this close to him. It might not be the real thing, but hey, I don’t think I’ll ever be worth the real thing.


#


Once Asher is done, I go wash my face and mouth.


When I return to the room, he’s ready to leave.


‘Thanks for helping me out,’ he says. I look at him, my eyes probably empty but he doesn’t notice. He does not need to look at my eyes anymore. ‘I’ll see you around.’


He walks out the door and doesn’t turn back.


I wait to see him turn a corner and I close the door.


I don’t have to keep it in anymore.


I can stop pretending to be strong.


I collapse to the floor and let it all out.


Feeling stupid, feeling small.


Maybe I’ll think it was worth it later.


I hope so.


#


The weekend is awful.


I keep looking at my phone, wanting it to ring. I want Asher to call me and make me realise he wasn’t full of shit when he said I shouldn’t worry. I want him to reassure me that I haven’t been fooled.


But nothing comes through. Not a call, not a text.


I think of sending him a message but I can’t find the courage to do so.


My Dad asks me why I look like I am about to cry at dinner on Saturday night and I make up some story about a movie I have just watched. I fear he might have a serious talk with me soon. I think he’s worried about me.


It’ll sound selfish but I can’t think of anyone else than Asher. I replay the events of Friday afternoon in my head, wondering if I could’ve done things differently. Maybe I could’ve said other things or maybe I should’ve denied that I was gay. Maybe then I could’ve been friends with Asher. Even if it means him not knowing who I truly am, at least he’d be in my life.


By Sunday night, I have given up hope.


I bite my pillow while I cry.


I don’t want Dad to hear my pain.


#


Waking up on Monday morning, I feel nothing.


I have breakfast with Dad and I play the part of the happy son. He deserves that. He works hard and makes sure that I never want for anything. I smile and talk about how excited I am for the holiday break coming up.


When I get to school, I don’t bother uttering generic greetings to various classmates. I head straight for my locker. I make my way to my homeroom and I’m the first one there. I usually try not to be but I think ‘Why bother?’ and find a seat at the back of the room.


I grab a book from my bag and keep my eyes on the pages. I’m not really reading but I am not ready to see Asher and be okay with him hating me like Jeremy does. Or worse: to see him ignore me.


Once the roll call is done and the daily notices are run through, I walk out of the room and merge with the stampede of students heading to their first class of the day. Thankfully, I don’t have Media on Monday. I won’t be seeing Asher at all today.


I am glad for that. I also hate that it hurts me.


Even my safe haven feels hollow.


I sit at a nice spot in between two mobile classrooms and the feeling of peace isn’t there. Instead there’s a storm in my head. I want to scream.


I can’t even eat anything. And today is left over beef cutlets.


What made me believe that I had any chance in hell with Asher? He is him. And I am … a sad loser. A sad lonely loser.


‘That’s okay. I’ll be fine. I’ll survive this. It’s okay to be alone. I can be strong enough to be on my own. It’s all good,’ I say with a quivering smile. Who knew I was such a cry baby? ‘Come on now, Mason. Don’t cry. Just stop.’


I close my eyes.


I attempt to regain control of my breathing.


‘Hey.’


My heart skips a beat.


I look up.


Asher Raines.


‘Mind if I join you?’


He smiles at me.


‘Yes …’ I say, quickly wiping away my tears. ‘Of course.’


‘I’d understand if you’re busy,’ he says, a playful spark in his eyes. ‘I don’t want to be annoying or anything.’


‘No!’ I gasp. ‘I mean, no, I’m not busy.’


He laughs and takes a seat next to me.


A light breeze cools down my face.


‘Sorry,’ he says. ‘I just needed a bit of time.’


I don’t know what to think. I don’t want to think.


‘It’s okay.’


He shakes his head.


‘No, it’s not,’ he says. ‘But I’ll make it up to you. I promise.’


I swallow. Asher Raines just made me a promise.


Maybe I should stop getting carried away …


‘What about Sam and your other friends?’ I ask.


He shrugs his shoulders.


‘Fuck them,’ he says. ‘They weren’t nice friends anyway.’


I can’t help but put my hand on his. He blushes at the contact.


‘I told you, right?’ I say, feeling smooth. ‘That you’re awesome?’


He grins at me.


We share our lunch.


He gushes over how delicious the beef cutlets are.


I want to ask him so many questions.


But for once,


I’ll just shut up and enjoy the moment.


About the Author

Raphael Farmer is an author based in Western Australia. He writes Young Adult, Fantasy and Romance. He has been writing since his early teenage years and has dabbled in various creative things such as film making, photography, screen writing and prose writing. He enjoys reading a variety of books (and graphic novels) with a penchant for Stephen King's work. Raphael is working on his first novel and on other short stories as well.






















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