There is something, oh I don't know, "easy", about getting to know someone of the same sex. People always assume that if you know someone of the opposite sex, the relationship must definitely be one of boyfriend/girlfriend. Having girl friends, as in girls who are simply friends, is something that is difficult for most people to fathom. Perhaps it is better to say that it is "easier" to get to know boys if you are a boy, and girls if you are a girl. This might also have something to do with the idea that boys relate better to boys, the same applying for girls. We 'get' each other. The other effect this has is to make fledgling intimate relationships really easy to start, but horrendously difficult to maintain and present to the world.
I had a lot of fun this afternoon. We did begin with the infamous piggy in the middle, throwing a tennis ball between the extremities. Even Richy tired quickly of this rather mindless game, so we spent most of the rest of the afternoon horsing around, doing generally roughhouse boyish things. Trent seemed tense. I didn't notice this at the time obviously, but hindsight is twenty twenty vision, so it is said. Some psychology crap about not wanting to see it at the time because I was having so much fun. Could it have had something to do with the little one clinging on? I'm becoming quite attached to Richy'kins. He's cute, in a puppy dog kind of way. I enjoy feeling like a big brother. It makes me feel needed. Come on now, this is really stupid, since I have known them all of a day. What, I am the long lost savior of poor little abused Richy all of a sudden? I know next to nothing about Trenton or his brother. Not even in which state they live - assuming that they live in the USA. What makes me anything more than the resident entertainment for this holiday? Get over yourself Marky. I shift in the bed in an attempt to get more comfortable. I should be sleeping like a baby. In the last 3 days, I have had all of two hours sleep. But I just can't make it happen. Something must be bothering me, since I don't have an airplane to blame it on this time. Trent?
Ah yes, Trent. Now is the time to cogitate, and consider. The time of reckoning. What on earth, you sanctimonious arsehole? You're just gonna sit here and think about the day, and you make it sound like going on a sacred pilgrimage. Maybe that's why I have no real friends. I use big words to try and sound intelligent, but I actually don't got a clue what's what in the world. OR maybe I'm just a loser, worrying my guts out that my new buddy will figure this out, and forget about me like yesterday's homework. Wait, that's just me feeling sorry for myself. Lets take the time to look at the facts shall we? He spoke to me first. He took me to his room. He introduced me to his family. Yeah, but HE was also nervous all afternoon, Einstein. Fair enough, but could that not have had something to do with Richy tagging along? That seemed to bother him as we left the table. But why for heavens sake, why? Richy is ideal as little brothers go (at least, again, from what little I know about him). He doesn't pester, doesn't manipulate, doesn't aggravate. Heck, he acted our age while he was around us. He wanted so desperately to fit in, so that he could be around us. He wanted to be 'one of us'. I just don't get it - why one earth would that bother Trent?
Ok, lets take another step or two back so that we can evaluate what we know and perhaps make some sense of the situation. Trent is a cool guy, who, for whatever insane reason, seems to like me. How do I know this? Well, I don't think that he would have introduced me to his family otherwise. And it was pretty damn obvious that he spend most of the morning trying to impress me. Stop flattering yourself. I'm not! - look at the facts. Look at how he acted through lunch. Terrified that I might reject him because of his family. Hoping, no praying, that I would like them. It was blatant. Or was it? Am I reading too much into the situation? Flattering myself like you say. I need to find some way to keep my Superego in check. That is, or ignore what mr. Freud says, and attempt to kill this other annoying little voice in my head that points out disturbing flaws in my reasoning. It would really be nice if I could believe that I am never wrong, and the kind of person everyone wants to know and be like. But I'm not. Accepting this is the key to living happily again.
Back to Trent. Taking it as given that he actually likes me (for the sake of argument ok, I'm not doing it to boost my ego), then why the show of problems during the afternoon? I can gather that he likes his brother, even if he teases poor Richy relentlessly. That leaves only me. You, you, you, everything is always about you. Ok wiseass, you come up with a better solution. Well, maybe, just maybe, you were making him nervous taking control of everything. You basically insisted that Richy join in. You chose most of the games. How should he feel after something like that?
What is this "you" business. It's we remember? You may have a mind of your own, but you still only exist as part of the overall Mark. Point taken though. I was rather assertive. But that doesn't explain the drastic change after the fun Trent and I had in the morning. After that, I felt like I had known him my whole life. Yeah well, you ever consider the possibility that you might just have been plain wrong?
It doesn't make sense. It just doesn't make sense. Especially since he asked me to meet him tomorrow morning by the pool. Sleep envelops me. If dreams happen that night, I don't remember them. I am awakened by the glare of sunlight on my face. MOM - why did you open the curtains? It's holiday. Can't I even sleep here? China, here comes my letter. I roll over and try to pretend that I am not really awake, but that if I just lie here, I will go back to the land of happy fairies encased in my skull. Alas, no luck. Eventually I grumpily swing my legs over the side of the bed, let out a noisy, smelly fart, and yawn widely. Hey, we all have gas sometimes. It hits me that the curtains are thrown wide for all to look in, and there is nothing but my tiny boxers to conceal my flesh from the outside world. I may not be very old, but I still have my dignity, so I hastily cover myself with the blanket, grab a random set of clothes and skulk off to the bathroom, where I don said random outfit.
Sitting in the dentist once, waiting for him to mutilate my poor innocent mouth, I picked some trashy teen magazine. In it, there was an article for the people of clan pimple. It suggested that, although it would not be a good idea, it is possible to pop the terrifying apparitions, and there is indeed a "proper" way to perform this task. It is on this that I now ponder, considering a particularly large an ugly one bang in the middle of my forehead. To pop the pimple, or not to pop the pimple, that is the question. Really, why did Shakingspear not think about such momentous issues, instead vying for "being"? I mean, we will never actually know the answer to the being question, so why not think about something useful? Popping it is. I place on thumb on either side of the fungus like thing growing on my face, and while muttering the incantation of all infested people ("die evil spawn of Satan, diediediediedie!") begin to exert some pressure. Just as the pain starts to become too much, the head shoots across the room, and the only way I can think to describe the ooze that deposits itself on my face is "pfffleghhhhh". I mop away the mess, and reconsider my appearance. I still look as though I have chicken pox. What is a boy to do?
Breakfasted and washed up, I head down to the pool. It is earlier than the designated meeting time, but I decide just to sit and wait. Another scorcher of a day, I peep outside, and immediately decide to chance into a swimming costume. Back at the room, the inquisition starts.
"Back so soon? Is something wrong? Are you hurt?" Mothers worry WAY too much.
"No mom. I just want to change into my swimming gear. It's rather toasty outside."
"Sun cream and a hat then. You don't want sun burn ruining the holiday for you, now do you?" Can I scream? Oh please can I scream.
"Please not the hat. Anything but the hat, mom."
"Mark Albert Spencer, you will wear a hat if I have to sew it to your stubborn, burnable head." Well, that settled it. I want no trouble you see. Yes, that is the truth.
I proceed to go through the motions of changing, applying the cream, and dutifully finding the infamous hat. As this procedure is carried out, I chatter away, telling my mom about Trent, since dad is out looking at some music store. He is a Wagner fanatic you see. "I met this guy by the pool yesterday. He seems really nice, so this holiday mightn't be so bad after all. I had lunch with him and his family, and they also seem really nice. I really like his little brother. . ." and so on. I completely miss the shadow that flitters across my mom's face. She knows me too well for my own good. I finish getting ready, give her a peck on the cheek and disappear out of the room. She worries too much.
By the time I get outside again, the allotted time has arrived, and I see Trent sitting by the pool. He sees me and gives a little wave. My gosh, must he work out! I feel very self-conscious as I walk over. I am skinny all right, but there is a band of fluffy flab at the bottom of my stomach. It doesn't stick out, but I sometimes fiddle with it to emphasize it. Don't ask me why, because I certainly wish it wasn't there. It is in no way flattering. Trent on the other hand. . . Wow. Not an ounce of extra fat on him. One day he will have the chiseled upper body of an athlete. To be honest, I find it a bit intimidating. Now it is sorta cute. But those body builders scare me. Little me, I feel so helpless around people like that. I avoid those types if I can. Perhaps it is just a phase he is going through. I'm not sure I want to have a bodybuilder as a friend. I'm quite happy being petite thank you very much. I see no need for showering everything around me with testosterone. But I won't let this bother me now. I like Trent. We have fun together, and he doesn't use his superior physique against me, so maybe my fears are unfounded anyway.
After the traditional hello sequence, we decide to go for a swim, the great stove in the sky cooking to perfection us helpless earthlings. At first the water seems icy, since we are well heated before we get in. But when we get used to it, it is so nice and cool and refreshing. I now have someone to mess around with in the pool, to play all sorts of games with! Trent releases something in me - something good. I feel relaxed around him. I can be me, and not some well-planned demeanor in place to try and construct what people will think about me. I laugh when I am around him. I mean really, truly from the bottom of my toes, heartfelt laugh. Not some polite "hardiharhar" in response to a wisecrack. Not to make him feel as though his jokes are actually funny. A real laugh. Which can only mean one thing. I am happy. I don't think I have ever felt this way before. Not honestly at least. I have been satisfied with the state of things. I have been accepting of my situation is life. But now I am experiencing something new. It feels like the sun is shining out my arse, so to speak. I am walking on air, whatever that means. Right now, I just don't care.
We decide to go for a walk about LA this afternoon. See what all the fuss is about. But first I decide to introduce him to my parents, since he was kind enough to introduce me to his yesterday. We run up to my family's room, number 347. Two floors up from him, and a row to the right. One thing has to be said about the numbering systems of hotels - they are logical. I burst in through the door.
"Mom! Dad! Where are you hiding?" I bellow. Perhaps louder than I intend.
"Keep it down, will yah? We're not the only people in the hotel you know." Admonishes dad as he slaps me playfully across the head.
"Mom, dad, this is Trent. We're going to spend the afternoon exploring L.A., trying to discover what you seem to find so fascinating about it."
Dad grins, and extends a hand, "Nice to meet you Trent. I am overjoyed for anything or anyone who will help Mark here put a cork in it for a few hours!" Trent shakes the hand nervously, and smiles weakly. Apparently my dad intimidates him. Who would have thought?
"Be careful you boys. L.A. is a big city, and there are some bad people in it. Be back in time for dinner."
"Mom! We are not 10 years old. We can, contrary to popular belief, look after ourselves. And look at Trent here - he is built like a tank. Who would mess with us?"
"Just be careful OK? Nice to meet you Trent. Have fun you two."
"N...Nice to meet you, mr and mrs Spencer. My parent would like to know if you would like to have lunch with them. Mark and I are going to get lunch somewhere in the city."
My mom smiles. Phew! That's a good sign. "That's very nice of your parents. We would love to. Mark, here's money for your lunch," I get a fist of notes shoved at me, " you boys get something nice. We owe you one for feeding our little monster yesterday." I think she is trying to embarrass me. I really do. I wouldn't be surprised if Trent were to run away screaming 'FREAK' any second. So before Trent can object, or my parent creatures can destroy any semblance of dignity I have left, I drag Trent out the door, and we head out of the hotel. As we are about to leave the hotel, there is a distraught squeak behind us.
"Trent! Mark! Please can I come too? I . . ." Richy trails off from his apparently prepared speech, as we both turn to stare at him. There is a look of great anguish on his face. Ah, hahah. I do believe that Trent orchestrated this so that he and I could spend the day away from Richy. More surprises. Instead of jumping in this time, I look at Trent to see what he wants to do. He seems at rather a loss, his mouth hanging open, staring at the little person nervously shifting in front of him. His evilness, sir Mark decides to throw a spanner in the works.
"It's fine with me, if it's ok with Trent." I smile at Richy. Richy's eyes are pleading with his brother. He wants to spend the day with big brother and big brother's friend.
"Ok, I guess. I don't know that we will get up to anything interesting, but you can tag along." Hehe, if looks could kill. I decide to stir the pot. Yeah, I suppose I do get pleasure from manipulating situations like this.
"Well, if we ain't doing anything interesting, I'm not coming." I grin at Trent. He releases some nervous laugher, and starts to head for the door of the hotel. I wait for Richy to catch up, and throw my arm around him. Yeah, big M to save the day.
"Does Trent really not like you? He never seems to want you around."
"I don't get what's going on. We always do stuff together. Especially on holiday. It must have something to do with you." He looks up at me with his innocent, flecked eyes, and I feel terrible. Am I breaking up a great bother/brother relationship? Should I leave? Maybe not. Perhaps if I can show Trent that I like Richy, it will all be ok. We head off to every kid's favorite restaurant, and I buy us some MacDonald's. We slouch over to a table, and sit. I try really hard to loosen them up because they both seem a bit tense. About halfway through the meal, something I say must work because we are all jabbering away like the teens we are. Teen talk, about TV shows, computer games (I avoid the subject of Doom III, since I am below the age restriction as it is - uber cool game though), cars. Oddly enough, though I most definitely have no objections, the infamous topic of girls never arises.
I suggest that we spend the afternoon exploring Hollywood, city of the rich, famous and arrogant. There is general agreement, and we head out. That's where it happens. There is a beggar sitting outside the Mac D's. Scruffy hair, torn shirt, bloodshot eyes, no shoes, smoking what I assume to be a joint. As we pass, he grabs my arm. Not hard, just firm. For some reason I am terrified. Rooted to the spot. Can't move an inch, captivated by the horrible eyes, and the breath that smells of stale smoke. I can't understand a word he says even though he seems to be speaking English. I feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Terrified beyond belief. I don't know what I would have done if Trent had not been there. He removes the guy's hand from my arm, tosses him a coin or two, puts his arm around me and moves me on. I realize that I am shaking. I force myself to calm down mentally. I have no idea why that guy freaked me out so much. It's not as though he was a threatening figure, all scrunched up on the pavement. I guess it's because I am quite a small person, so anything like that scares the hell out of me. Both Ricy and Trent are looking concernedly at me. I thank Trent, tell them that I am fine, and we continue on to our destination.
We lose track of time wandering up and down the streets of Hollywood. It is wonderful seeing the place to go if you have a big movie to make. Richy suddenly points out that it is after half past six. I suggest that we phone to say we are going to be late, and that the parents should not worry. That we will get dinner on our way home. They look skeptical, but I pout. They both burst out laughing, and agree. I phone my parents, and Trent his. Both sets of parents are terrified that we will be mugged and raped, but we assure them that the three of us will be fine. After this, a stroke of genius hits me. We are on a street just above the huge HOLLYWOOD sign, and it would just require a mild hike through the bushes to get underneath the sign. From there, we can watch the sun set over the city. More skepticism, more pouting, and we head out. After about 10 minutes of raucous hiking, we reach the enormous sign. Trent flops down and leans against a humongous support pole. I sit down and rest my head on his chest. Richy flops down, and rests his head on my chest. I have never been so at peace with the world. It is beautiful. A flaming red coin, about to go down the chute at the end of the world lights up the bustling city. A few twinkling lights are going on in the city, to compliment the shattered pearls in the sky. Trent puts his arms around me, and I put my arms around Richy. The whole world seems to sigh in contentment around us. I am really truly happy, something I have only started to experience recently.
If that had been a Hollywood movie, the camera would have zoomed out slowly with soppy, schmaltzy music playing in the background. It's what you might call a Kodak moment. I don't know how long we stay there. I just know I don't want it to end. Eventually, though, Trent points out that both sets of parents would be a bit upset if we stayed out all night, so we reluctantly come out of our stupor. Richy had actually fallen asleep, but he denies this with all his soul. Can't be seen falling asleep around the big kids, you see. Makes you look like a little kid, which, incidentally, he is. We head back to the road, and trundle back to the hotel. We arrive later than expected after grabbing another meal at the MacDonald's, and the parents are waiting in the entrance hall, looking worried. We calm them down, say reluctant goodbyes, and head off for some well earned rest. I am on top of the world tonight. Dancing on flowers to the music of my choice, my mind is far, far away. I'm singing (badly) softly as we walk back to the room, and my parents are giving me strange looks. I suppose they are not commenting because it has been ages since I last sang. I went into something of a depression this year, so seeing me happy must make them keep their big mouths shut. Happiness being the great bringer of easy, restful sleep, I fall quickly into a contented slumber after the tooth brushing ritual and the clothes shedding dance.
The rest of the two weeks passes in a happy haze of wonderful memory making. The day before my family has to leave finally dawns, and I decide as I wake up to make it the best of the whole holiday. Today it is just Trent and I because his parents have taken Richy to some theme park to play around. What is amazing is that we do simple things around the hotel, but have the real fun enjoying each other's company. It is, arguably, the best day of the trip not because of what we do (most of which is rather mindless), but because we are simply enjoying being around each other. The day passes too quickly. Everything ends before I have a chance to savor it, which, in hindsight, loses half the experience. I should just enjoy things as they happen. As the city draws her dusky cloak about her, we head up to Trent's room to exchange phone numbers, and play one last game of chess.
Phone numbers in pockets, we play the last game of chess, which satisfyingly ends in a stale mate. We stand up to say goodbyes. Neither of us knows where to start, but we both want to get this over with before the parents return. I deicide to make the first move, and embrace him.
"I like you Trent. You aren't like all the other guys. I can be me around you. I don't have to put on a façade."
"I like you a lot too Mark. More, perhaps, than you think." I never want this moment to end. Until he slides his hand around from my back to my chest, and down to grab my crotch. I panic. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I'm confused. This is not how it's supposed to go. I break the hug, afraid of everything and nothing. Is he going to hurt me? Is he going to force himself on me? I'm so confused.
"I . . ."
"I . . ." I rush out of the room before anything else can happen. Terror running in waves down my spine. I run to the safety of my room. We are leaving tomorrow. I am safe tomorrow. I curl up into a tight ball on my bed.
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]
* Some browsers may require a right click instead