I couldn't. Tonight. The big "couldn't." My lover wanted to, and so did I, but I couldn't. He tried everything, and nothing. He never gave up. He played, pulled, licked, caressed, blew, stroked, fingered, toyed, teased, sucked, scraped, wiggled, rolled, kneaded, rubbed, squeezed, kissed, nibbled and lapped. Nothing. Not for two fucking hours. Non-fucking hours. So he talked. He held me and talked. He held me in his arms, and just said things that were "soo calming. And after a while I turned my head to his breast, and began to suckle. That was it. I responded, and he took it from there. And when the moment came, it wasn't an orgasm so much as a release. From a bondage that I'm still trying to shed.
I got to Snyder's just before 2:00 and waited at the counter for Becky. She was right on time, wearing shorts, a yellow top and sandals. Becky is one of the cutest girls I know. She has short hair, sort of a dark blonde. I don't think she likes her hair "cuz she keeps changing it, but I do. She's got a nice body, but she isn't what I'd call beautiful. She's cute. We met in second grade when I had a crush on her. I pushed her down on the playground. She dumped sand in my lunch. It was a match made in heaven. We started playing, and my folks would take me out to her farm a lot. She taught me how to ride a horse and milk a cow. Riding was more fun. They don't have dairy cows any more.
I ordered a malt to work on my sucking muscles, and Becky got a cherry Coke. As we waited, I said, "So, let's talk." I know, I'm a brilliant conversationalist.
"Not here," she said. "Let's go for a walk."
"It's a hundred degrees outside."
"No, it's not. Let's walk along the river. It's shady there."
Our town is small, about 10,000 people, but the downtown is real nice. In the middle is a three-block long park along a creek. Everyone calls it a river, but it's not wide enough to be a river. I guess it sounds better to walk along the river than to walk along the creek. "Wapsniboshnu River. Or creek.
There's a walkway along the creek, covered by trees with benches scattered along the way. There's usually a bunch of people, but on a hot afternoon like that one, not many folks want to be a way from the air conditioning, We pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Sucking hard ("woohoo!) on my malt, I held the door open for Becky and we walked toward the river.
"Thanks for coming to my party last night."
"It was a great party. The best one ever. I can't believe we have to start school Monday."
"Yeah, I know. I'm not ready. Summer wasn't nearly long enough."
"No, especially since you and Danny..." I cut her off.
"Why the hell is everyone so wrapped up in that damn fight? Danny and I got over it. Why can't everyone else? It was a disagreement, we didn't speak to each other for a few days, and we patched things up. Why can't everyone get over it?"
She looked at me. I'd been yelling.
"Sorry," I said.
"But, Justin, everyone knows how good a friends you two are. You guys never fight. And this one seemed to be so bad. I mean, you guys are always together. And then you weren't. And it was a few months, not a few days. And I guess it's because no one knows what you fought about."
"And you're not going to find out."
"Okay, okay. I didn't come here to talk about the fight."
"I know. I wanted to talk to you anyway about what you said at the party last night."
"You mean when we were dancing the last dance? Don't you wonder why I danced it with you instead of Kyle?"
"Well, now that you mention it."
"I told him I was going to. Mainly because it was your birthday."
"Mainly? Any other reason?"
"I just wanted to talk to you. I wanted you to put your arms around me to see if there was anything there," she said.
"It's not twenty questions, Justin. Don't repeat me."
"Repeat you?" We both cracked up.
"I wanted to see if you felt anything for me. Before I get any more involved with Kyle. I wanted to see how you held me."
"And how did I hold you?"
"Like a good friend. But not a boyfriend."
We sat down on a bench in the shade. "Well, you could have just asked," I said.
"Huh-uh. You're too nice, Justin. If you thought I was dating Kyle, you would let me, even if you wanted to date me. If you thought it was what I wanted, you'd say you weren't interested in me. That you just wanted to stay my friend. But I knew if we danced to that song, you wouldn't be able to hide it."
"So what didn't I hide?"
"You were very open. You held me like a friend from second grade."
"I know. And nothing more than that."
"Well, that's a lot, don't you think?" I said. "That's a long time to be friends."
"Not for you. You've been friends with Danny, Greg, Kyle and Richie longer than that."
"We grew up together. If you'd lived in the neighborhood, I'd have been your friend that long, too."
"But you'd still be just a friend."
"That's all I am to those guys."
"All but one," she said, looking away from me out over the river. Creek.
I sucked too hard and choked. After coughing and spluttering, I managed to gasp out, "No, I like all of them. They're all my friends."
"I know they are all your friends. But I think one's a better friend than the others."
"Well, yeah." I was scrambling. I knew I could still talk my way out of this. "Everyone knows Danny and I are best friends."
"Justin, stop it."
I looked at her, sort of pouting. I thought if I could give her my little boy pout she'd stop. It worked a little. She smiled.
"You're cute," she said. "I "sorta wish it could be different. I like Kyle a lot, but I could fall in love with you in a minute."
"Why don't you?"
"Because I wouldn't get it back. At least, not right now."
"Becky," I said, suddenly tired. "Just come out with it. Are you mad at me?"
"No, Justin, I'm not mad. I'm not sure how to react."
"Well, tell me. Maybe I can help."
"It's hard to say. I might be wrong, but I don't think so. But if I am, I don't want to make you mad. I don't want to lose you as a friend."
"Becky, we've been friends since second grade."
"You and Danny have been friends forever and you broke up..." She gasped and put her hand over her mouth. I gently eased it away.
"Becky, just say what you're thinking." Tears welled up in my eyes.
"Oh, Justin. I could see it in your and Danny's eyes last night. Are you two -- I don't know -- boyfriends?" She held my gaze, and I held hers.
Until tears covered my eyes. I stood up and walked away from the bench. My greatest fear had become known, and only a few weeks into our love. It hadn't taken any time at all. Becky had seen it. Had Kyle? Greg was pretty curious last night. Were they all talking about it, wondering about it? Had Becky and Kyle talked about it?
"Justin," Becky called. "Wait. Justin."
I kept walking. Away from the situation. Away from my life. Away from, I don't know. Away from the insecurity. The sin? Nah. Pastor Ridgeway said God wanted us to be happy. But I wasn't very happy now.
Becky caught up to me and took my hand. She guided me to another bench.
"Justin, I haven't told anyone what I think. But I'm right, aren't I?"
I stared into the grove of trees on the other bank of the river, and barely nodded. She pulled my head to her shoulder. I didn't break down and cry, I just sat there, tears slowly trickling, afraid of what was going to happen.
"Nothing's going to happen, Justin," she said softly. I wished with all my being I could believe her.
"Yes, it is."
"Justin, you're the best boy friend I have. Not boyfriend, boy friend. In fact, you're one of the best friends I have. I'm not going to tell anyone, Justin. I can keep a secret. I'm happy for you. It's something to be in love."
"I'm scared, Becky. If you know, everyone is going to be able to figure it out."
"They are if you two keep acting like you do. Like at the party last night. You two couldn't keep your hands off each other. I was so relieved when you started dancing with girls, just so you two would stop. Is it love, Justin? Or is it infatuation?"
"I think it's love. I know it is on Danny's part. He's told me how long he's loved me. I can't figure out why, but he keeps giving me reasons. He's thought this out for a long, long time. Me, I think it's love, but it's so new. He's paying all this attention to me and telling me these things, and I've been like his brother for all these years and now I see him completely differently, and yet I don't, and I don't know for sure. I tell him that I love him and I do. But I don't know if it's the same kind of love he has for me."
Becky sat silent on the bench, watching the water trickle past. It's not a deep creek --"er, river -- and sometimes when kids are down here with their parents they go wading in it. It's perfect for slipping your shoes and socks off and walking through. The bottom is smooth in some spots, but right where we were there were rocks, and the water rushing over them made that gentle gurgling that makes water so relaxing. I love water. Remember? The swimming hole near our homes? Where I first realized I felt something unusual for Danny? And where Danny apologized to me? Water plays an important part in my life. And now here I am with Becky, along a creek, the water singing to us, as she tells me she knows. She knows.
The silence was hard to bear. Was she putting together a tirade against me? She was going to tell me how sinful Danny and I were. She was going to call me a monster, a freak, a fag. She was going to laugh at me, maybe slap me, humiliate me. She was going to pity me and mock me. She was going to say all these things to me, and then never, ever speak to me again. She'd light me up like a super-nova and then let me die. She'd feel embarrassed because she wanted to love me and I turned out to be gay. She could never have me. I was unnatural. I was contemptible. I was evil.
"You must be hurting so much," she whispered.
She was going to lash out, vent her fears and anger and....huh?
"You must hurt so much, Justin."
"Because of your confusion."
"I'm not confused."
"You just said you are. You didn't say those words, but that's what I heard. You don't know if you love Danny as he loves you. Justin, it's what I've gone through with you, and I know the hurt."
"Becky, I'm so sorry," I said, and wrapped my arms around her.
"No, it's okay. See, I found out that my love for you isn't the same as yours for me, and I was able to move on. You're stuck. You're still searching."
"No. I mean, I love Danny. I love being with him, touching him. Um, kissing him."
She smiled and looked at me. Her eyes looked at mine, then moved down to my mouth.
"He's lucky. You're a great kisser."
"No, you are. You should give Kyle some lessons."
"I'll pass," I said, faking a gag, and we both broke out laughing. "I had good practice."
The afternoon sun blazed down on our small town. It was comfortable in the shade, though.
"When do you have to meet your folks?" I asked.
"We're staying in town for dinner and a movie. There's not much to do on the farm till the crops are ready to harvest. I can stay here all afternoon if you want."
"Because you're helping me sort out some things that no one else has been able to." I sighed. "Becky, the only person I've been able to talk to about this is Danny, and, well, he's not exactly impartial in the matter. Besides, every time he looks at me I..."
"Yeah, I know. He's got great eyes."
"Anyway, I sure as hell can't tell the other guys, and the 'rents. Can you imagine the explosion if I tell them?"
"Really? I like your folks. I think they'd be okay -- "ummm, after the shock wore off."
"But I can't tell them. They've got the marriage working right now, and I don't want to do anything to upset that."
"I'm not sure. He said some pretty liberal things the other day in church, but I'm not sure how he'd react if he found out I'm in love with another boy. He might not be all that liberal."
"Then it's just me?" she asked.
"Well, you're the only other person who knows, I think. But no, I'm not going to make you listen to me spill my guts. You don't need that."
"You might need it."
"Jeez, Becky. You're 15. Who needs this shit at 15? Sorry. Who needs this stuff at 15? You sure as hell don't."
"Well, you seem to have to deal with it."
"Me and no one else. It's my burden."
"Justin, you need someone to talk to. I'll be that person."
"It's not fair. Not to you, not to Kyle. Spend your time with him. And if it doesn't work out, spend it with someone else. Go and be happy."
"I'm your friend, aren't I?"
"I hope so."
"Okay, and you're my friend?"
"Then let's make a deal. You talk to me when you need to, and I'll talk to you. We aren't going to be boyfriend/girlfriend, so it's perfect. When we have problems with life, we'll help each other. That way whoever we're dating won't have to suffer the burdens of our poor souls." She laughed at that last part. "Hmmmm. I could fall in love with her. But I could never be her lover.
We sat quietly for a few minutes, then I said, "You know something? You haven't used the word "gay" yet."
She looked at me, searched my face. She just looked at me for about half a minute. "Neither have you."
"Well, umm, I guess I'm a little scared to."
"I am, you know."
She looked at me again. "You're Justin. That's all I know. You're in love. You're having some trouble coping with it. You're my friend. This is your first true love. You've got questions. You're unsure of yourself, and we're sitting here in the shade talking about it. We'd probably be talking about it if you'd fallen in love with Wendy or Michelle. And if you'd fallen in love with me you'd probably be talking to Danny about it. I've already been talking to Megan "Frankhoff about Kyle, and we're not even in love yet."
"If I'd fallen in love with you I'd be telling EVERYONE about it. Now I can't tell anyone."
"So we're talking."
"You're Justin. You've discovered love, and right now it's with a boy. Maybe it will be forever. Maybe someday you'll love a girl. It's too early to put a label on it."
I'll never love a girl, I thought, because by the time I do, Becky will be taken, and she's the only girl I could fall in love with.
"Other people will put a label on it. Becky, I'm scared. When people find out..."
"They won't. Not if you two behave yourselves."
"I don't know if we can."
"You have to, or face the consequences."
"It's not fair."
"No, it's probably not, but this is what you two have chosen for yourselves, and you know the risk. You know it up front, Justin, and fair or not, you can't ignore what might happen."
"It didn't happen with you."
"I'm a cool chick." We both laughed a little.
"Others have survived, Justin, even thrived."
"How do you know?"
"I just do."
"You think we can survive?"
"Yes, if you keep your mouths shut."
I conjured up an image and looked at her. I MUST be transparent, "cuz she looked at me a moment, and her eyes got wide, she jumped a little and said, ""Eww, gross! I didn't mean....oh, gross. Jeez, Justin." She did a little shiver.
"See, you aren't okay with it."
"Well give me a little time to get used to it."
I came up with another image of a rainy Sunday afternoon....but I didn't even look at her this time."
The sun had reached it's fullest intensity, and it was getting hot, even in the shade.
"How were you able to tell about me and Danny?" I asked in almost a whisper.
She thought for a moment.
"Like I said, you two were touching each other all night last night. He had his arm around you as you were opening your birthday presents."
"He always does that."
"Okay. But I could also see it in his eyes. And in yours. Especially yours."
"What! What did you see? Exactly what did you see?"
"You didn't just look at his eyes. When you looked at him you looked at his whole face, his mouth, cheeks, nose and eyes. And you'd hold a stare for longer than any two boys that I know."
"How could you pay so much attention to us?"
"Justin, I love you. I was watching you all last night. I don't know, I guess I notice these things about people. I like watching people, their eyes, their faces. It's just a habit. Last night I was watching you, and I saw all those things."
My heart sank again at those words that she loved me. I couldn't repay her. I was hurting her.
"Don't worry, you're not hurting me." Damn! How does she do that? "I want you to be happy."
"Do you think anyone else noticed?"
"I doubt it. Greg, Kyle and Richie aren't all that bright in that sort of thing. Believe me, "Jolie Carter has been trying to catch "Richie's eye for about two weeks and she's about to buy a seeing eye dog to give him. I think if anyone notices it'll be Greg. He seems to be a little more sensitive. Nothing like you and Danny, thought. Both of you are sensitive guys. I've known that for a long time."
"How about Kyle? He'll find out."
"How?" Then she looked at me sharply. "Not from me, he won't, Justin Reynolds. Give me some credit." She was getting mad. "Why would I tell him? I said I wouldn't. I'm good for my word. Just because I'm dating some guy I'm not going to spill my guts to him. "Jeezuz, Justin. I can't believe you don't trust me. "Dammit. Here I am spending all this time with you talking about your first love and it's not with me and you're giving me your confession and you won't trust me. I should slap you."
"Becky," I kept trying to say. "Becky." She went on. "BECKY!" I shouted. She stopped, startled. "Becky. I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. I know..."
"No, you weren't thinking. That's the problem with you, Justin, you gotta stop and think. About everything from now on."
"I know you won't tell on us, Becky. I know. I'm sorry. And yes, I'll have to start thinking."
I tried to think. It wasn't working. Sweating, I stood up and wandered over to the "riv...water.
""Wanna go wading?"
"No, you can if you want."
I took off my sneakers. I wasn't wearing socks. A walked into the water. It was refreshing, almost cleansing. Sweet. It came from a nearby spring, so it wasn't loaded with chemical run off from the farm fields. I mean, you couldn't drink it. I knew from experience that boys peed in it all the time upstream. But by here all that was diluted and it was nice to wade in. Suddenly I slipped, lost my balance, and landed flat on my butt in the water. Becky laughed, a pure, friendly laugh. It made me laugh, too, till I noticed blood in the water. I'd cut one of my toes open on a rock.
Becky saw it too and ran over as I came out of the water and sat on the bank. I tried to squeeze the cut closed with my fingers, but since it was wet, I couldn't get a grip. Becky took a handkerchief out of her pocket, put it over the toe, and held it tight to stop the bleeding.
Here I was, soaking wet from the waist down, injured, my foot in her lap, my life in a heap.
"Becky, what am I "gonna do?"
"Put a band-aid on it. It's not that bad."
"That's not what I meant."
"What do...oh, I see."
"Well? What am I going to do?"
"Do you love him?"
"That's not what you said before. You said you weren't sure."
"I know. Last time you gave me a minute to think about it."
"Are you sure?"
"Yup. You did."
"I mean about love."
"Oh. Yup. I think."
She shook her head with a smile.
"So what am I "gonna do?"
"Love him. Make him happy. Let him make you happy. And enjoy it while it lasts."
"You make it sound like it's not going to."
"I hope it does, Justin. I hope you and Danny are happy together forever. Of course, the odds are against it. First loves and all. But whether it does or not doesn't matter right now. You can't see what's going to happen. You can't worry about tomorrow, because your worries might never come true. So enjoy it today. Deal with tomorrow when it gets here."
"What if people find out? A couple of homosexuals aren't going to go over well in this town."
"No, you're right. If people find out, then you'll have to protect each other. You'll have to stick together, show each other your love, and stand up for yourselves. I don't know if you'll ever be accepted here. I guess if you tough out the first wave you might be able to settle in. But it's a small town, and people aren't likely to forget. You might have to leave. But if you're lucky, by then you'll be ready for college, and you'll be leaving anyway."
The bleeding had stopped and she took away the handkerchief to look at the cut. It was on my middle toe on my left foot. She lifted it up and kissed it.
"You should put a band-aid on that. It's "gonna be sore for a few days till it heals."
I slipped my shoes back on, and we walked down the bank a little ways to the next bench.
"Have you two really known each other since you were born?" she asked.
"Yup. Our moms used to have coffee together and they put us in the same playpen. Mom says I came to his first birthday party and he came to mine. It was just "sorta natural, I guess. We've always been together."
"And you never fought?"
"Oh, sure, we fought. Nothing serious, but you know two people can't be together a whole lot without fighting. I'd go home mad, or he would, and a couple of hours later, there we'd be again, playing in the sandbox or riding our "trikes or playing with our trucks or something."
"Until last spring."
"Yeah, until last spring. That's the worst fight we've ever had. It tore me up inside, Becky." It was confession time again. "Can I be honest with you?"
"I hope so."
"That night at the farm..."
"When you told Danny to fuck off."
"You knew about that?"
"I was standing a little ways behind you."
"Oh, god. I'm sorry you heard that. Yeah, that night. When we were making out. Becky, I really liked that. But, um, I couldn't stop thinking about Danny."
"I know that now. I didn't then, and I was mad at you. That's why I broke up our session. I wanted it to last, but I knew you had something on your mind. It was Danny. "Heh. I'm glad I didn't even suspect, "cuz I'd have knocked you into the cornfield." She smiled, but it was a painful smile.
"I don't know what to say."
"Nothing, Justin. I can't blame you. You were in love."
"I thought I was in hate. I was so mad at him still, and I wanted him so bad. I just couldn't see it."
"He means a lot to you, and even when you were mad at him, he still meant a lot."
"Even more than you know."
I told her the abbreviated version of what I had told Greg the night before, about my parents, Danny's mom, Danny's caring embrace and the safe haven I'd found.
Her shoulders slumped. "Oh, Justin. He's loved you since he was six. Maybe even before."
"Not like he does now."
"Only because you were little boys. But that's where it started."
"You mean he loves me "cuz he pitied me?"
"Oh, stop it, Justin. No. He didn't pity you. He saw someone who needed help emotionally. It was a whole new aspect to the friendship, and even at six he was able to sense it. It has nothing to do with pity. It has everything to do with a boy who discovers his friend needs help and is willing to give it. And he's been willing to do that over all these years."
"No, because he's gotten something back from you. He's gotten your physical friendship, and he's gotten your emotional friendship back as well. You've always been there for him, too, Justin. Your emotional need came from one obvious source --your parents' fighting. But his came from all over the place, and I bet every time he needed you, you were there. It wasn't sneaking over to your house to escape, but it was seeing you every day, talking with you, working things out on the playground or at the swimming hole that he needed. You've given him as much as he's give you, but spread over a wider space. Did you ever pity him?"
"No. Of course not."
"And he hasn't pitied you. When you slept together, did you sleep far apart or close together?"
"This is getting a little personal."
"Sorry. I had a reason for asking."
"Well, I usually crawled into bed "sorta apart from him. He usually came up and put his arm on me or over me."
"Because he needed that sort of support. Not because you needed it, but because he needed it too."
"Why would Danny need it?"
"I don't know. I guess we all need it."
"When you were six did you need it? Nobody slept with you so you could put your arm around."
"No," she said, "but if somebody had slept with me, a friend as good as you are to Danny, I would have. And I probably would have wanted more."
"He gets lots of support from his parents and brother. It's a very loving family."
"Sure. Like I said, his need didn't come from one identifiable source like yours. He just needed you."
She was quiet again, and I could tell she was thinking.
"Has Danny used the word gay?" she asked.
"Yeah, he has."
"And he knows what it means?"
"Well, sure." I told her about our conversation on the couch, in which he told me about the websites he'd visited and his fear of dying alone.
"How long has he known he was gay?"
"I "dunno. I think he's felt different for a long time. I don't think it's been all that long since he put the word 'gay' on it."
"Has he told his parents?"
"Then that's it. That was his need. He needed you close by to support him in his feelings. He felt different. But you were always there to show him he wasn't different."
"But he never told me that's what he needed me for."
"He probably couldn't put it into words for a long time, and then when he could, he was too embarrassed to say it, until the day he did, just after the accident. And that was because he thought you'd given him the ultimate support -- you saved his life."
"No, I didn't. That's silly. He wasn't going to die."
"Well, he thought you did, and when you showed that much love, he was able to tell you."
It was getting too hot to think. My toe hurt and I was thirsty. But I couldn't leave.
"How can you figure all this out?" I asked.
She laughed a little. "I don't even know if I'm right. But it's a possible explanation."
"Becky? Do you think I made him gay?"
She looked at me quizzically.
"Why would you think that?"
""Cuz I slept with him all those nights."
"Did you ever sleep over at Kyle's?"
"Sure. We've all had sleepovers. Usually at their house because....well, because."
"Any of them gay?"
"Not that I can tell."
"Me either. Especially Kyle."
"I don't "wanna know."
"I'm not "gonna tell. Anyway, they're not gay. You didn't make them gay. You're not the Typhoid Mary of homosexuality. You're Justin. Danny's Danny. He's in love with you, and it isn't because you slept in his bed a couple of times."
"Hundreds by now."
"The answer is still no. He's his own person. You didn't make him gay anymore than you made him a basketball player."
Beads of sweat rolled down my back under my shirt. My hair was plastered to my forehead, wet with sweat. Even Becky was getting uncomfortable. I stood up from the bench and held my hand out to her. She smiled at me and took it, and pulled herself up.
We walked back on the sidewalk along the creek, um, river, just sort of ambling along. Her hand was in mine, and it felt so nice.
Just before we came out of the last grove of trees, we stopped. I turned her so she faced me.
"Thanks," I said.
"Justin, you don't have to..."
"Yes, I do. You've helped me sort out so many things. I think I can start to understand some things now. I was "soo scared after we danced last night. I didn't know what you thought you knew, or how you were going to react when you found out you were right. That's what I have to thank you for. You're not crazy with anger, you're not scared of the queer boys."
"Justin, shut up with that or I will be mad." The tone of her voice told me I'd stepped out of line.
"I'm sorry. I guess I was trying to shock you. But I really mean it. I don't' know how to repay you."
"Just be there when I need to talk. That's all."
"I will be."
"Justin, just treat him well."
"I'll do that. I promise."
"He's such a lucky boy."
"So am I, Becky. So am I."
She kissed me on the cheek, and we hugged tight.
"Yes, you are. I'll see you in school Monday."
I walked Becky over to the dress shop, went back to Snyder's for my bike, and rode home. Home to find Danny. Home to show him how much I loved him. Home because I needed him, and because he needed me.
There isn't any sex here in what I've just written, and yet I'm hard and "precum is leaking from me. This whole thing has got me aroused. But he's sleeping so quietly I don't want to wake him. Although he'll be disappointed in the morning when he finds out. What Becky and I talked about - that's exactly the kind of love I have now.
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