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We Are In Love!

by Talo Segura

who is who

Pete's Story.

Good Judgement, what a joke! He kissed him... right there in front of everyone. I didn't think anybody could be that vicious. Revenge. It was more than revenge.

The freezing cold made me shiver, the wind tried it's best to make my eyes and nose water. I looked down, head bowed, watching the contours of the pavement. Only looking up if I sensed there was anyone else about, but like every morning it was way too early. The sole thought in my head was the one willing the bus to roll up on time. At this hour of the morning everything looked grey and gloomy, it was the edge of dawn. As if to emphasise that, the street lights switched off, one after the other, with the exception of one recalcitrant lamp that blinked and lit right back up.

Standing at the bus stop was emblematic of my life, waiting to climb on board and get a little warmth, on an empty voyage to a place I didn't want to go to. But I had no choice over the destination, nor the other travellers. The metal shutter on the grocer's across the street grated open with a grinding screech. The young guy hoisted it up the last foot with a long wooden stick, before moving inside to start bringing out crates to adorn the pavement in front with boxes of vegetables and fruit. It was a ritual that hardly changed, he was there every morning, like me.

My attention returned to waiting for the bus. It was approaching, making it's laboriously slow progress through the lights. I strained to see the number. Thirty-nine, shit! But wait, it was followed by another double decker. I shifted around to try and see the number, which I only managed as it pulled up.

Climbing the stairs, I moved towards the front, making it halfway before the mammoth jerked into motion and I had to grab hold of the upright metal pole. I looked down at the seat as I lurched forward with the motion of the bus. It was him. Staring out the window. Had he seen me get on? I swung around sideways onto the empty seat in front, slinging my bag across towards the window. Twisting around, I had one arm resting on the back of the seat and was looking at the mop of black hair. The dark clothes and jacket. The sight should have been as gloomy and sad as the day dawning outside, but it wasn't.

It seemed like minutes passed before he looked back from the window and those deep brown eyes stared at me.

"Hi," I managed a tiny smile.

He said nothing, just looked.

It's the worst of things, rejection. Or is it? Not being honest must stack up there, along with not standing up, not giving support. Sometimes it all boils down to a split second, and I'd lost it. Fallen in with the in crowd, led by the macho guys. They coined the name queerbot.

"Sorry about yesterday."

I thought he might just return to looking out the window.

"They were just having a laugh," I told him.

I didn't believe that myself and from his grimace, neither did he. Actually, he probably thought I was trying to minimise the event so I didn't come off looking so bad. And he was right.

It wasn't working.

"You just gonna give me the cold shoulder treatment?"

Now I was trying to provoke a reaction. I didn't get one. Still I decided today I'd stay here I wouldn't chicken out. That's what I thought, but then it was too easy to get carried away, lost in imagination. I had a picture of myself that didn't stack up under scrutiny, but I never looked at myself to see. As we sat there, I was still watching him, the bus was practically empty. I could scoot around and join him, couldn't I? I could pull him into an embrace, bury my face in his, kiss those pouting lips.

"Stop it!"

That broke the magic moment. He sounded angry. If not angry, very annoyed. My eyes found his. I had this puzzled expression, narrowing my vision and drawing lines across my brow.

"What?" I asked.

"You know. Staring."

That made me smile. My face was suddenly lit up with the recognition that he was responding.

"Can't help it," I told him, and something stirred.

A warm feeling. The electric lighting illuminating the tartan patterned seats of the empty deck contrasted with the ever lighter lifting gloom in the streets below. It was a cacoon of brightness, like a stage. We turned left, rumbling up the hill, picking up speed down the other side. I didn't have long. They'd be getting on soon. Everything would change. Except, today might be different.

"I hate you."

It was spoken quietly, but carried all the more weight with the word, simply because of the way it was said. He had every right to hate me, but it still hurt, even if I'd hurt him. This was like grown up kids stuff. A contradiction. It was serious, but I didn't have the means to deal with it. I'd let him down, let myself down. He was the gay boy. I didn't want to be seen as his friend and by association, risk being labelled. I left him alone yesterday when the others got on and started with the names, teasing, poking fun. All at his expense, and I disappeared in the crowd.

We were there. They were climbing up the stairs. I got up and left him, just like yesterday. I moved across the isle and sat a few seats away. Well, he said he hated me. Today wasn't like yesterday. Most of the macho gang surrounded me and the atmosphere was odd. I was swept up in their midst, whilst the least expected thing happened and the new kid slid in next to him. That was a shock. Yesterday I thought he was part of our group. Today he was sitting next to him and I'd been swept away.

I shot sideways glances whenever I could. Trying to watch them. I hadn't paid the new kid much attention yesterday, but today I noticed he had a gold chain and they both looked cute together. But he'd taken my place. How did that happen? In just one day. I was nodding along with the conversation surrounding me. The two boys on the other side of the bus were ignored, forgotten. Not by me. I saw him give the new guy a leather cord with something hanging off it. He put it round his neck. I don't think anyone else was interested or noticed.

We'd argued, and like yesterday I was apart. A part of the macho guys. He hated that. I'd apologised. But, I guess, some things you can't take back. He hated me! That hit deep, but later was worse.

He kissed him... right there in front of everyone. I didn't think anybody could be that vicious. Revenge. It was more than revenge. He wanted to kill me.

Joel's Story.

Courage, yeah! I kissed him... right there in front of everyone and he couldn't miss it, but I didn't do it for that. I did it for us.

I wiped the condensation from the glass and peered out the window. The street lights were just turning off as a hint of daylight overtook the gloomy early morning darkness. If he was there I would ignore him. I couldn't see, didn't have a good view, obstructed by the bus shelter.

He sat down on the seat in front. I kept staring through the window at the almost empty streets. The only thoughts going through my head were how could someone the same as me side with those others? It was hard enough when I came to this school last summer, it was worse because I was gay. No way was I going to pretend. Things had all gone wrong before we moved here. Bullying, name calling, isolation. This time it would be different.

The bus jerked forward as it pulled away. I willed myself not to look at him, until he spoke.

"Hi," he said.

I turned to face him. There was a slight smile on his face. He looked cold.

"Sorry about yesterday. They were just having a laugh."

That made me angry and it showed, I wasn't hiding how I felt. Neither was I going to get into an argument. What was the point? It would be me who got hurt. This time it would be different. If he was like that, I would ignore him. Even if I liked him, he wasn't the only boy in school I liked.

"You just gonna give me the cold shoulder treatment?"

I couldn't hold it in any longer.

"Stop it!" I told him angrily.


"You know, Staring." I told him.

Why didn't I tell him to get lost. Now he was smiling, like I'd suddenly let him in.

"Can't help it," he said.

I was torn between emotions. The bus jolted us as it turned left, the motor straining as we climbed the hill. There was no one on the bus, but the rest of those jerks would be there. That thought brought it all back. The name calling. But it wasn't just that. He'd disappeared when they started in on me. That was too much. The anger was still there. What the hell did he want? I didn't need his problems on top of my own, if he couldn't deal with it, I wasn't taking all the shit from his friends.

"I hate you," I spoke softly, but he heard.

It hurt, it was meant to. He had no time to react. They were climbing up the stairs, but today was different. They more or less ignored me, but not the new kid. That was what I was hoping for. I smiled carefully at him and his face lit up in a broad grin as he detached himself from the rear of the group and slid in beside me. Our eyes held each other. I turned to withdraw the medal from my bag. Found it, and pulled out the small yin yang carved wooden medal. I'd threaded it on the leather strip last night.

It was like none of the rest of the world existed. Just me and him. I gently pulled it over his head and his hands reached up to touch it and look at the medal.

"You made it?" He whispered and I nodded, a recognition of more than a medal strung on a leather cord.

Courage, yeah! I kissed him... right there in front of everyone and he couldn't miss it, but I didn't do it for that. I did it for us.

Manuel's Story.

Good Judgement and Courage, I don't know about our judgement, but yeah, it was courageous. He'd given me the yin yang medal and I had the blood red carnation in my hand. My heart was pumping as loud as his. I could feel it as we hugged. I saw his brother smiling.

It was never easy being the new kid in school, but when we met, I knew right away. Only a few months ago he'd been through all the same shit himself. We kind of had the same philosophy, if you're out you're out and God damn the rest of the world.

He told me how in his old school it had been a nightmare. He wasn't going to let it happen again, if he could help it. I guess we decided to stand up for each other. Of course, it didn't harm things that he was the cutest boy in the whole school. I couldn't believe my luck. We sort of decided together.

His brother worried me, that other guy, and those jerks on the bus to school, but it worked out. Actually his bro was a cool guy, the proof was there, that moment in front of everyone. He told me he'd come out to his brother before they moved to London and his brother said he knew he was going through something. But either he didn't want to say, or didn't know how to. Anyhow he was one hundred percent behind him. Which was great.

I still had my doubts. I didn't know his brother, heck, we hardly knew each other. I suppose you'd call it a whirlwind romance. We never exactly planned that moment. I'm still not sure how it happened. The jerks we ignored and that other guy? Well, I believed him when he said nothing was going on. Even seeing how he looked at him. But, I guess you can't have the cutest boy as your own without a few others looking!

My heart was pumping as loud as his. I felt it as we hugged. I saw his brother smiling. We are in love! We were two of a kind and it could only get better, never mind the rest.

The End.


This story is part of the 2019 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: By Any Other Name". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 8 March to 29 March 2019 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this picture:

2019 Inspired by a Picture Challenge - By Any Other Name

We Are In Love!

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