Excerpt for Firefly by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Firefly

Raphael Farmer





Copyright 2017 Raphael Farmer

Published by Raphael Farmer at Smashwords








Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.







Acknowledgements

I wish to thank Holden, who beta-read this for me, my talented cover designer, Angie, who did an excellent job as usual and Georgina for her editing magic.










































Firefly



The day I found out I was a poofter was the day I went to Patrick’s house.

Patrick was my best friend. I was fourteen at the time, and he was younger than me by two months. One day after school, Patrick asked me to come over so we could play on his brand new Playstation 4 PRO. He had always wanted a video game console, and his parents had finally made his wish come true. He told me all about it when he got it for his birthday. He was so excited.

‘I am not allowed to play video games,’ he had said to me, during one of our first conversations. I couldn’t believe my ears. He’d seen the look on my face and shrugged. ‘They said I couldn’t play them at home, but that doesn’t mean I can’t play them at my best friend’s house.’ He’d had a twinkle in his brown eyes that made me want to smile.

I’d invited him over that same day so we could beat each other up on the new Tekken game. He’d been amazed by the graphics and I honestly think he could’ve played it all afternoon. I, on the other hand, had been a bit bored by the twentieth battle. But I’d been glad he was having a good time, so I’d kept on playing.

‘Sorry, Jon, I can’t sleep over,’ Patrick had said a few days later. ‘My parents are very strict about that. Even if they knew the other parents, they would never allow it. They said I had to wait until next year.’

I’d liked that I could show my disappointment. It was normal for a kid my age to be annoyed that his best friend couldn’t sleep over. Patrick never guessed that I was actually heartbroken. I hadn’t known why at the time; I’d just known I wanted to spend time with him, and laugh with him. Patrick made me understand how a best friend was supposed to make you feel.

‘I finally get to see your house,’ I said to Patrick on the bus.

‘It’s nothing special,’ he said, grinning. ‘But we do have a nice TV.’

‘Nicer than ours?’

‘I’d say so,’ he said, blocking my punch.

We often played rough. I liked it when we fought after bouts of Tekken. Tackling each other on the floor, rolling around and trying to pin each other down until one of us gave up and submitted. I was always the one who initiated the fights. I liked the smell of his chestnut hair and sometimes, if I made the right moves, I could have my face near his neck. I nibbled on it once, and he gave up straight away. I remember his voice going high-pitched.

‘My brother might be home though,’ Patrick said, clearly not happy about that.

‘Is he a dick?’

I don’t have any siblings, so maybe it was a sibling thing I didn’t understand, but Patrick immediately looked guilty about what he’d said.

‘No,’ he replied defensively. ‘I mean, he’s just … you know. I don’t know how to explain it.’ His eyes darted downwards, and I could see that he was thinking something through. ‘He’s just annoying sometimes. That’s all.’

I had always wanted a brother or a sister. Most of my friends had siblings. I’d pestered my parents for a while about it. Then they’d had a talk with me: a serious talk that had left me feeling sunken to the ground.

‘I’m sorry, honey,’ my Mum had said. ‘It’s just going to be you, me and Dad.’ She’d smiled and hugged me tight, and I’d felt drops of wet on my neck. ‘Don’t worry, we’ll always be close. You’ll never feel alone. I promise.’

I hadn’t pestered them anymore after that. I began to see things that I seemed to have been blinded to before. My Mum and Dad never kissed. Never. I remember thinking that was odd. I looked out for it.

I’d even suggested to my Dad, one Valentine’s Day at dinner time, to give Mum a kiss. They had both smiled at me and changed the conversation. That was the moment I realised why I would never have siblings.

‘You okay?’ Patrick asked, noticing my silence.

‘Yeah, I’m fine,’ I said, smiling. ‘Just spacing out is all.’

‘You do that way too often,’ he commented, grinning.

I smiled back, finding warmth in the way he looked at me.

When I turned to look out through the window, I caught a reflection of my face. I had fair skin, though with a pimple or two, black eyes and short black hair. I found myself unable to keep looking at it, and turned to face forward.

I couldn’t wait to be at Patrick’s house and play some games.

Patrick was right. His house was quite ordinary. I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. It was located in a cul-de-sac and the front lawn could have used some watering. There were some odd decorations on the window. Looked like they could’ve been from last Halloween.

Inside felt quite homey. There were many pictures on the walls, some of Patrick. There was stuff everywhere. It was as though the house hadn’t been cleaned in a long time. Patrick dumped his bag on the floor, so I did the same. We both kicked off our shoes too, and went into the lounge room in our socked feet.

‘Sorry about the mess,’ he said, his cheeks reddening a bit.

‘I don’t mind,’ I said. ‘My home is always a wreck.’ He had seen my house, so he knew I was exaggerating. But he smiled nonetheless.

‘Check this out!’ He pulled up a wooden panel from the television stand, and there it was: the Playstation 4 PRO, Patrick’s most prized possession. ‘Looks cool, huh?’ His whole face beamed.

‘Boot it up,’ I said with a grin.

It was only after a few rounds of Overwatch that someone came in through the door. I sensed the change in Patrick’s mood straightaway. I was going to ask him about it, but then I heard a voice.

‘Hey guys,’ the voice said. He stood at the edge of the lounge room. I turned to look at him and, for the first time in my life, I felt my breath cut short. ‘You must be Jon,’ he said as he walked towards me. ‘I’m Spencer.’

I was sure I blushed when he shook my hand. I wanted to look away; I didn’t want him to catch me staring, but I couldn’t help myself. Spencer was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen. His eyes were so blue they looked surreal. His hair was brown, but not the dull kind. Not like Patrick’s, I thought. I felt mean for thinking that.

‘That’s an awesome game,’ Spencer said, checking out the television screen. ‘Patty is not as good as me though. Ain’t that right, Patty?’

Patrick’s hands held on to the controller tighter. He didn’t say anything back.

Spencer glanced at me and smiled. I couldn’t help but smile back.

‘I might come and join you guys in a minute,’ Spencer said as he walked off. I wanted to go with him.

‘He seems cool,’ I said to Patrick, trying to downplay the awe in my voice.

‘Yeah, he’s charming,’ Patrick replied with obvious sarcasm.

‘Patty?’ I asked.

‘That’s what he’s been calling me ever since I was a baby,’ Patrick said with no affection at all. ‘I hate it.’

‘Have you asked him to stop?’

‘Yes.’

Spencer’s voice came back to my ears.

‘You guys want a snack?’ He asked, popping his head back into the lounge room. Patrick didn’t answer; he merely shook his head. Spencer looked at me. ‘What about you, Jon?’

I knew the right thing to do would’ve been to say no thank you but, strangely, I seemed to have lost control of my mind.

‘Yeah, sure,’ I said.

Patrick tensed up.

‘Come with me,’ Spencer said, smiling.

He didn’t need to ask me again.

Their kitchen was smaller than ours. Something about it made it seem quite old: maybe it was the beige, maybe it was the used stove, or maybe it was the faded numbers on the oven dial. None of those details mattered to me. My eyes were set on Spencer. It was just the two of us, and it made me feel hot in my chest.

‘You like chicken or salami?’ He asked as he grabbed two plastic containers from the fridge.

‘Salami, thanks,’ I said, my voice cracking, which annoyed me.

‘Same as me,’ he said, smiling back at me. ‘Good choice.’

That gave me goosebumps.

‘How’s school?’ He asked. ‘Liking it?’

I tried to think of something cool to say, but nothing came to mind.

‘It’s okay,’ I said.

He smiled. Butterflies went crazy in my guts.

‘I get you,’ he said. ‘I’m excited to finish soon. Then ...’ he spread his arms wide with a look of relief and satisfaction, ‘... Freedom.’

I imagined myself jumping into his arms.

I could feel my groin stirring up.

‘Will you go to uni?’ I asked.

My parents had informed me that I was definitely going to uni after I graduate from high school.

‘Nah, fuck that,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘I’ll go backpacking across Europe. Maybe even stay there. I’m sure it’ll be better than staying in this dump.’

It felt like I had a smile constantly plastered on my face, but it wasn’t tiring me out yet. He had sworn in front of me and shared one of his dreams; I felt like I was his friend. That was the coolest feeling in the world.

‘Right, here you are, good sir,’ he said, giving me a wink. ‘Now, I’ll show you what I can do with Genji.’

Suddenly, I remembered that I had left Patrick by himself in the lounge room. A tinge of guilt began to spoil the high I was feeling.

‘Move over, Patty.’

Spencer grinned as he grabbed the controller from Patrick and sat down. He patted the floor next to him and said, ‘Take a seat, Jon. Let me educate you.’

I did as I was told. I couldn’t bear to look at Patrick, and felt shitty for being like that, but something about Spencer made everything else disappear. I thought about what some of my friends say about Ms Loanna; they couldn’t get over how hot she was. They would often rank the female teachers by how attractive they were, and Ms Loanna always came out on top, no matter who was doing the ranking. I never understood the fascination they had with her.

Now I did.

‘I haven’t played this game much,’ I confessed. ‘I don’t like shooters.’

Spencer nodded and said, ‘Yeah, but this is way better than your average shooter. You’ll see.’

I had watched Patrick play and, in all honesty, it wasn’t that thrilling. To me, Overwatch was no better than your standard cookie-cutter Call of Duty game but, when Spencer played it, it was like another game. The way he played was different. More interesting. Better. He used a character, Genji, who used a lot of melee attacks. I preferred close combat games, so it was fun to watch.

‘Whoa, that’s so cool!’ I said, unable to help myself.

‘Told you,’ Spencer replied, grinning.

Even his grin was way better than Patrick’s.

Then Spencer handed me the controller.

‘I won’t be as good as you,’ I said sheepishly. I wanted to impress him, not make a fool of myself.

‘Then I can teach you,’ he said, winking at me.

That gave me the strength that I needed to give the game a proper go.

I didn’t do well at all, but Spencer kept cheering me on and that was awesome. We played for a while and I wanted to keep going.

But, just as I gathered enough courage to bump his shoulder, hoping for it to lead into a tackle, my phone emitted a sound; I received a text.

‘Damn,’ I said with a sigh. ‘My Mum is on her way home.’

The rule was that I could stay out after school, but only until either she or my Dad was on their way home. I almost wanted to ask if I could have a sleepover, but Spencer spoke up before I said anything.

‘Good timing,’ he said. ‘I’ve to go meet my mates anyway.’

That was disappointing, but at least I didn’t feel as bad.

‘Thanks for showing me this stuff,’ I said. ‘You’re really good.’

He smiled at me. I wished I could’ve taken a picture of that.

‘You’re welcome,’ he said. ‘I’ll see you next time you visit.’

He put down the controller and made his way out of the lounge room.

That’s when I remembered. Patrick.

He was not on the sofa anymore.

‘Shit,’ I muttered to myself.

I thought about it and decided that it was probably best for me to leave and sort things out with him at school. I didn’t want to have an awkward chat with him when Spencer was around.

I felt like a coward. Rightly so.

I expected Patrick to tell me off the next day at school. What he did, however, was much worse.

He ignored me.

I first saw him that morning in home room. But instead of sitting next to me, he sat next to somebody else and began chatting with them. I stared at him, stunned. I felt like shit. I’d hurt my best friend, but I didn’t mean to. It had just happened. I had to make it right. I waited for the teacher to be done with the roll call and for the bell to ring, then went to him. I caught him in the hallway.

‘Hey, about yesterday ...’ I began, but Patrick shot me a deathly glare.

‘Don’t bother,’ he said.

But I insisted.

‘Look, I’m sorry,’ I said, walking faster to keep his pace. ‘I acted like a jerk, I know. I’m really sorry.’

‘Yeah, you did,’ he replied, still cold, still annoyed. ‘I’ve got to go.’

He walked faster.

I slowed down.

A thought occurred to me.

It wasn’t I fucked things up with Patrick.

It was Will I be able to see Spencer again?

I didn’t go to my next class. Not straightaway.

Instead I made my way to the nearest bathroom and locked myself in one of the stalls. I covered the seat and sat on it. My head was spinning. I wanted it to stop spinning so I could think.

‘What’s wrong with me?’ I whispered. I didn’t mean to, but that was how it came out. This whole I-didn’t-mean-to behaviour was becoming a trend.

Patrick was my best friend, and I had most likely smashed that friendship to absolute pieces. Yet, I was more worried about Spencer than anything else. I wanted to see him again. I needed to see him again. There was a connection between us. I was sure of it. I was sure he also felt it. He must’ve felt it. Why else would he have wasted his time hanging out with me? He even made me a sandwich. A salami sandwich. That had to mean something.

I thought about Patrick, and I wondered how to fix things with him. I thought of begging for his forgiveness again. But not at school. I thought that maybe I should go to his house after school, and we would be able to talk more then. If Spencer happened to be there too, then it’d be a bonus. Two birds, one stone.

I didn’t want to overthink my sudden obsession with Spencer.

I just wanted to enjoy his company.

Be with him.

And hope that Patrick would be okay with it.

I surprised myself after school. I didn’t have much trouble remembering where Patrick lived. I was usually bad at directions.

I waited a little while before I went there. I didn’t want him to see me following him or anything like that. Besides, if he had seen me, we might’ve had a conversation away from his house. Away from Spencer.

I thought an hour was long enough. I wasn’t sure when Spencer had returned home the day before, but an hour seemed like it made sense.

When I rang the doorbell, I felt my heart beating violently. Something told me this could go very wrong, but I didn’t care.

‘What are you doing here?’ Patrick said the moment he opened the door and saw me standing there. He was still in his school uniform but barefoot.

‘I wanted to talk to you,’ I said. ‘I know what I did was shitty, but come on ... is it really unforgiveable?’

Patrick glared at me. Man, he was really hurting.

‘Yes, it was really shitty, Jon,’ he said. ‘I can’t forgive you just like that. We can talk at school tomorrow. Give me time to think about it.’

That was a win, somewhat.

But it wasn’t all I came here for.

‘That sounds good,’ I said. I spoke louder than usual, hoping Spencer would hear me if he was in the house.

‘You can leave now,’ Patrick said.

Now, I knew the right thing to do would’ve been to nod and walk away. The right thing would’ve been to be patient and hope that someday I would meet Spencer again. But, even though I knew that, I couldn’t help myself. I didn’t want to see Spencer. I needed to see him.

‘Is Spencer here?’ I asked. ‘I just want to say hello.’

Patrick did not expect that.

His face told me so.

‘Are you kidding?’ He said, his fingers turning white from gripping the door.

I swallowed but smiled.

‘What? I just want to say hi,’ I said, as if I couldn’t see what was wrong with that request.

‘Fuck off, Jon,’ Patrick said, his eyes watering. ‘Fuck off!’

And that was the first time a boy slammed a door in my face.

I stood still, staring at the closed door.

But I couldn’t leave without seeing Spencer.

So, I turned around and sat on the steps.

I waited for an hour.

Then another half an hour.

And that was when Spencer finally showed up.

‘Hey, buddy,’ he said. ‘Are you waiting for Patty?’

I got up and smiled.

‘No, he’s inside,’ I said. ‘Just wanted to say hi to you.’

He smiled back, but it wasn’t the same as before.

It was like he was weirded out by what I had just said.

‘Okay ...’ he said. He put a hand in his pocket to find his keys. ‘You need something?’

‘No, not really,’ I said, feeling more and more stupid. ‘Maybe we could play some more Overwatch? You could teach me some more moves.’

Even the way he looked at me was different.

‘I’ve got stuff to do, buddy,’ he said. Why did he keep calling me buddy? I didn’t like it. ‘Maybe another time.’

He nodded and walked past me.

I watched him go inside the house and close the door behind him.

He didn’t even look back at me.

When I got back home that day, I went straight to my room and screamed into my pillow. I bit it hard. I felt like a complete idiot.

I thought about what had happened with Spencer and played the scene again in my head. I wondered why he had acted differently and wondered why he didn’t want to play the game with me again. It hurt, like someone was pinching every part of my insides.

Then I began to think about Patrick.

I thought that maybe Spencer didn’t want to hang out with me when Patrick was around. Patrick probably gave him shit for what happened. When these thoughts took over, I began to feel better. It made sense to me. Why else would Spencer suddenly change the way he treated me? It had to be because of Patrick.

A plan began to form in my head. I would go to Patrick’s house tomorrow and wait for Spencer, but this time I would wait a little further away. I would meet him. We would talk. I began picturing it in my head. I would give him my mobile number and we would text each other.

Then we would meet up on the weekend. Maybe go to the shopping centre and hang out there. Get a burger or something. It would be awesome. These thoughts dried up my tears, and I stared at the ceiling of my room. Spencer and I would be best friends. The very best. I knew there was a stronger feeling than that in me, but at that time I didn’t want to think about it. It would raise other questions.

It would ruin the moment.

Patrick kept on ignoring me at school.

I wished I cared more about that, but I was too far gone. All I thought about was Spencer. I spent ages in class picturing us being friends and doing things together. I thought that the age difference wouldn’t matter because we had a special connection. There were a few moments where I wondered if I had lost my mind but I squashed those thoughts quickly. A connection like the one I had with Spencer couldn’t be explained. I wasn’t going to let it die out because of one or two obstacles.

I was patient. I didn’t bother Patrick at all during school. I saw him glancing at me from time to time in History. There was a look on his face. I couldn’t tell if he was sad or annoyed. I pushed his face out of my mind. I didn’t want to think about him.

Once the final bell of the day rang, I rushed to the exit and took the first bus available. Patrick was also on that bus. The moment he saw me there I knew that he knew what I was up to. He stared at me in complete disbelief. The look was clear as day, but again I did not give a shit. I really didn’t.

I let him walk ahead of me and kept a good distance. He was alone, thankfully. When he got to his house, he went in and didn’t look back. I didn’t expect him to and I didn’t want him to. I had seen enough of his judgmental face for one day. Because his house was in a cul-de-sac, it was a bit awkward to find a place to wait, but I opted to sit under a nearby tree. At least that wouldn’t seem weird to anybody passing by or looking out their window. I took out my phone and pretended to read stuff on it. Every now and then I’d look up to see if Spencer was walking down the street.

Then it began to rain.

Badly.

You’d think that’d make me give up and go home.

Nope.

I stayed. I got wet, despite the tree giving me some shelter.

The rain was cold and icy. The rain drops were like knives cutting at my skin.

But I was not giving up.

I’m too close to becoming friends with Spencer to go home now.

It wasn’t until after half past four that I finally saw Spencer walking briskly towards me. He was covering his head with a book and he wasn’t going to stop. I got up and quickly intercepted him.

‘Hey, Spencer,’ I said, smiling.

I did my best to ignore the look of shock on his face.

‘Jon, what the hell?’ he said, not smiling back. ‘What’s going on with you? Patty told me you two weren’t friends anymore.’

I did not think Patrick would say something like that. I shrugged it off.

‘Oh, yeah,’ I said. ‘I suppose we aren’t. It’s no big deal really.’

He was puzzled.

‘Why are you here then?’ He asked. ‘Do you want me to talk to Patty for you?’

I shook my head straightaway.

‘No, I’m not here for him,’ I said. ‘I was waiting for you. I thought maybe we could trade phone numbers or something. Maybe hang out?’

Spencer took a step back and that was a punch to my guts.

‘Okay, buddy, listen,’ he said. ‘You need to stop this creepy shit. I’m not your friend. I’m not going to be your friend. Hang out with people your own age.’

I heard the words, but I did not listen to them.

‘But I thought you liked me?’ I said, sounding like my heart was breaking.

‘Liked you?’ Spencer’s eyes widened. ‘Jesus, are you like a poofter or something?’ He sounded like he wanted to throw up. ‘I got nothing against that, but keep that shit away from me, man.’ He stepped further and further from me. ‘Look, I’m sure you’re a nice kid and all, but seriously, stop this shit. I do not want to see you again. Do you understand me? Stay the fuck away.’

And just like that, he turned away and disappeared into his house.

I stood there, stunned speechless.

The icy blades of rain kept cutting at me.

I walked into my house a while later; it was empty.

I was dripping wet, my clothes stuck to me like a second skin. I was cold, I was hurt and I didn’t care. I went to my room and sat on the edge of my bed. The rain was still pouring down outside, crashing against the window. I thought I heard thunder as well but I couldn’t tell. Something was different with me.

I went to open my closet and stared at the mirror.

I saw a strange boy looking back at me.

I couldn’t recognise him.

Spencer’s voice came back to me. One word actually.

‘Poofter,’ I said, repeating the word Spencer had said to me in disgust. I guess that was what I had become. ‘I’m a poofter.’

That word wasn’t new to me. There were gay kids at school. Mostly lesbians.

I knew I was gay the moment I saw Spencer.

I guess a better way to put it would be:

I knew I was fucked the moment I saw Spencer.

I went back to my bed and lay there, staring at the ceiling.

I thought about how I’d break the news to my parents.

One day, but not right now.

I thought about how I’d acted and how I’d hurt Patrick.

I couldn’t go back to him. That friendship was dead ten times over.

That brought tears to my eyes.

I wondered if, on top of being a faggot, I was also crazy.

Wouldn’t only a crazy person do what I had done?

I lost control. Completely.

That was the scariest feeling in the world.

I cried for a long time.

I knew I’d never forget this.

First heartbreak.

I would struggle in the relationship department for years to come. You’d think I would’ve learned from my experience with Spencer, but no. I still acted like an idiot for most of them. But slowly I think I got better at keeping my crazy at bay.

My parents had different reactions to the news when I told them. I was eighteen then and my reasoning was that if they hated me for it, I could’ve left home and moved away or something. Mum hugged me and said nothing. Dad stared at me and asked me several times if I was pulling his leg. When he realised I was being serious, he nodded and shook my hand. I did not understand why he’d shake my hand, but I went with it. He stopped asking me about girls, which was great, but he never asked me about the guys I was into. Mum was pretty much the same. She made an effort, now and then, to ask if I was seeing anybody. I knew not to give too many details. I kept it short. They still loved me, I knew that much, but they acted like they had lost me. I decided not to see things from their point of view. I kept our relationship superficial and I felt like they were happy with that. Or at least, they were satisfied with that.

#

I’m lying in bed in my room at the share house I rent with random strangers, and I’m thinking about Patrick. I haven’t thought about my old friend in years and suddenly here he is: his happy grin flashing before my eyes. It makes me feel bitter and sad at the same time. I decide to look him up.

I don’t call him or anything like that.

I do what, I assume, most people do.

I type his name in the search box on Facebook.

Fortunately for me, his profile isn’t set to private.

I stare at his profile photo.

He’s grinning. At twenty-five, he is handsome as fuck.

Then I see his relationship status.

Taken.

By another man.

‘What the fuck?’ I can’t help but mutter under my breath.

But it is true. Patrick is with a man, older than him by the looks of it, and there they are: together in many photos. Holding each other. Laughing. There is even one photo of them kissing.

I’m not sure what to feel.

I guess I had a crush on him when we were friends, but it was blown away by my feelings for Spencer.

I hesitate for a second and then go for it.

I open Patrick’s About section and check out his Family and relationships sub-section.

‘There you are,’ I whisper with anticipation. I click on Spencer’s name and his profile opens up.

My heart sinks.

That can’t be right.

Spencer was the hottest boy I had ever seen.

But, when I see his picture ...

I know the years will have made him look different, but not that different.

He looks dull. Average.

He has a drink in his hand in most of the pics available on his page.

I end up staring at one of them. I don’t know why, but I cry.

It isn’t because Spencer hasn’t aged well, or because he doesn’t look as good as I remember. It also isn’t because Patrick turned out to be gay; it isn’t because if I’d been a better friend and told him the truth, maybe we would’ve ended up together. No, it isn’t because of any of that.

I’m crying because I’m ashamed.

Ashamed of what I did and why I did it.

I’m glad for Patrick. He was good to me when we were friends.

He deserves to be happy.

I’m the piece of shit who deserved to have his heart broken.

I want to message him and say I’m sorry.

But then I think better of it.

I close the page and return to bed.

I wish I could turn back time. I would’ve been a better person.

Maybe then my life would’ve been different.

Better.

Brighter.

Happier.




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