Small-town Boys and Lopsided Smiles

Submitted into Contest #116 in response to: Write about a character breaking a rule, but for good reason.... view prompt

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LGBTQ+ Fiction Historical Fiction

CW: language, vomit, mentions of both internalised and outward homophobia. 

December, 1984.

Liam kissed him as they sat on a peeling picnic table in a walled-off smoking garden. 

It broke the rules. 

Ced’s own rules. The unspoken ones thrown his way by his father in icy looks filled with malice.

The table’s wood peppered with the remnants of shrivelled cigarette butts, the sky flecked with pin-pricks of white. 

Liam kissed him and Ced didn’t know what to think. 

He’d never actually kissed anyone properly. 

Unless you counted that time he’d stupidly planted one on Cathy Green at her twelfth birthday party, that is, or forced sloppy kisses from elderly relatives, or stupid dares at even stupider boarding schools.

Amongst that, seven years had ticked by like raindrops splashing the concrete, there for a second until they ultimately faded away. 

Not a kiss in sight. 

Those seven years had brought with them Liam. An invisible thread had wrapped around Ced’s gut from the first meeting, the stupidly casual introduction of two sixteen-year-olds with too much history to ever properly tell each other, and had pulled Ced closer to the boy ever since with its tugs of blue eyes sunk into a sallow face and the lopsided smile that made Ced fizz. 

They were friends.

Best friends.

Ced had had a couple of those before. Lost them too for one reason or another. 

Not Liam.

Liam was kind and funny and had that smile that everyone knew, even before they’d ever seen it, that soothed like a balm even if you didn’t have any stinging to soothe in the first place. Ced had a lot of stinging. A burning kind, smarting right in his blood and pulsing with each second. 

He couldn’t place when it had started. 

It didn’t matter in the end. Liam stopped it. Stopped it with words as kind as he was, humour as effortless as his soul, and for once, Ced thought he knew what being a friend was supposed to feel like. 

But now Liam was kissing him. 

One moment, they were talking and the next, he was pressing his noticeably dry lips onto Ced’s. 

His mind crackled like a burst fuse. 

Liam was kissing him. 

Liam was kissing him. 

Ced dropped the lighter he’d been holding to the floor and only just heard the metal clanks as it bounced onto the damp concrete. 

He felt–

He felt–

He felt… like he was on fire. 

And no one had made him feel like that before and it was just–

Just…

Just.

Just Liam. 

His brain spun the name around, fast and urgent and all the other adjectives that Ced couldn’t be bothered to remember.

LiamLiamLiamLiamLiamLiamLiamLiamLiamLiam.

Liam’s lips against his and Liam’s hand reaching to touch Ced’s face and Liam’s nose touching his and his messy hair brushing Ced’s forehead and his skin that tasted like chocolate biscuits for some reason and his mouth parting and… and… and…

And Ced’s breath catching and his hands dithering and his cheeks turning embarrassingly red and his eyes closing as it became apparent that the kiss wasn’t stopping and why haven’t I pulled awayI don’t want this. I don’t want this. I…

He wanted it. 

He liked it. 

He liked the way Liam’s hand felt like it belonged on his face. 

He liked the way their lips slotted together. 

He liked–

Stop.

He couldn’t want it.

Couldn’t like it or the way Liam’s hand felt like it fucking belonged there or the way their lips just slotted together like they were just meant to.

Couldn’t. 

What would Dad say?

What would he think if he saw you here?

That thought was all it took for Ced to push Liam away.

He couldn’t. 

“You kissed me,” Ced stuttered out as Liam stumbled backwards on the table, “You– you kissed me. Why did you kiss me?” 

Why did you ruin it? Why couldn’t you leave things the way they were?

Liam’s eyes went suddenly sad. “I thought you–” 

But he cut himself off, sadness evaporating and being replaced by a defensiveness that looked painfully well practiced.

“You kissed me back.”

No. No. 

Clenching his fists, Ced wrapped his arms around himself. “No, I didn’t. I– I didn’t mean to. I just–”

He couldn’t help it when his eyes began to dart around them, looking for any sign of, well, anything. 

What if someone had seen it? 

What if the world, with all its disapproving looks and opinions on the ‘right way’ to do things, had seen Ced kiss a bloke?

“It’s… It’s fine,” Liam’s glassy eyes stabbed a hole right through him, “I, uh, I get it… and I’m gonna… I’m gonna go.”

Liam pushed himself up from the table, a frantic pace to his movements that shattered the world around him, and near stumbled to the door, not daring to look back at Ced.

Ced’s throat ached with the need to call out for him, tell him to stop and come back and kiss me again, but he didn’t. He couldn’t.

Figures.

Ced was just left with his own frantic-ness, mixed with the sounds of his father’s voice in his head. Those words in the back of his head, chipping and chipping and chipping away until he felt like nothing at all.

He stared at the space Liam had just been. 

He could feel that tingle in his throat, tears trying to force their way up, and for just a moment he swallowed them down. For just a moment, he didn’t let himself cry. 

Because there was nothing to cry about.

When the tears escaped anyway, culminating in a choked sob, Ced wasn’t entirely surprised. And for once in his life, no matter how much he hated it, he didn’t cry in silence.

“Sorry,” he found himself retching in to the emptiness, tears streaming messily and breaths heaving in that age old panic, “Sorry, sorry, sorry. I’m sorry, Dad, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to– I didn’t mean to– I know I can’t but–”

He felt the snot now dripping from his nose, felt more words wanting to escape, but Ced ignored it all. 

He just cried. 

And cried. 

And cried. 

Until he was sure there was nothing left. 

Nothing left other than the thoughts of what his dad would say. What his sister or brother or mum would say. The thoughts of what he wanted to say to himself. 

Only a moment after Ced managed to force himself to his feet, he threw up, vomit tinged with the taste of stale cigarettes. 

The acid of it tore his throat in a way that should’ve stung, really should’ve done, but left nothing but more tears in its wake. 

Ced looked back up to the table. 

His eyes caught the lighter on the floor. 

Liam had kissed him.

And Ced had wanted him to.

He threw up. 

Again. 

Hands resting on the table in front of him as to somewhat prop him up, he stared down at the two puddles of sick on the concrete.

He was still crying. 

“I’m sorry,” he spat, words practically incoherent within his sobs, “I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to, Dad, I’m sorry,”

With a pathetic fumble, his hands found his headphones and dragged them to his ears. 

Just like always. Just like always. Just like always. 

He pressed play.

His fingers tapped along to the rhythm in steady beats.

But this time it didn’t work. 

The words wouldn’t fucking stop. 

Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to. Liam had kissed him and Ced had wanted him to.

He’d wanted him to. 

Ced crawled back onto the table, pulling his knees to his chest. 

He sat his chin on top. 

Breathe. 

Just like always. Just like always. Just like always. 

He forced his tears into silence. 

But that stupid thought still refused to leave his head.

Liam had kissed him. 

And Ced had wanted him to.

October 18, 2021 16:49

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1 comment

Keya Jadav
04:47 Oct 19, 2021

That's a topic well portrayed, a harsh truth. Beautifully expressed a matter, most people suppress, those metaphorically described as Ced's father. Excellent use of repetition. Nicely done!

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