90 comments

Drama Romance

Can you keep a secret? Now there’s a question. Of course anyone can keep a secret, it’s the next two questions most of us really want answered. Do you want to keep a secret and will you? In addition to that some secrets must be kept from the world whereas others need only be kept from one specific person. Mine falls somewhere in between.

 

My secret shouldn’t be a secret at all. This is 2020 and we live in a time where an African American can be president, an orange man can succeed him, and an East Asian woman can be nominated for vice president. It’s an era of #MeToo and rainbows and non-binary acceptance. Why then, please tell me, is revealing my secret so hard? Wait, don’t answer, I’ll tell you. It’s because the only person I really want to accept me and my secret may not, and the thought of that rejection is far worse than keeping a secret with which I can no longer live.

 

My name is Ricardo and before you ask I am not of Spanish or portuguese descent, my parents just liked the name. My friends call me Rico and since I was ten I have introduced myself as such. My mom is a humanities teacher at The University of Kansas and my dad is a non profit lawyer. The family joke had always been that being non profit wasn’t intentional it just worked out that way. Both of my parents were born 20 years too late and 20 years too early. They were flower children long after it was cool and ultra progressive before it came into fashion. I was raised to be open minded and was told specifically that love was love and who I chose to date or marry didn’t matter as long as they loved me.

 

My parents may have been born at the wrong time but I was born into the right family. Unlike the other boys at school I liked the other boys at school. In many families this would have been cause for anxiety and counseling and in the worst case scenario, conversion therapy, but in my home the revelation was greeted with hugs and smiles and encouraging words. This is not to say that my classmates and their families were so open minded and on more than one occasion I came home with my eye black and my clothes torn. Honesty and openness, a hallmark in my family, could be dangerous in school or in our small town.  

 

There was only one other youngster who accepted me for who I was. Terry Whitaker had moved next door when I was nine years of age, a full 2 years before I came out. We were thick as thieves from the moment we met and the Whitaker household shared more in common with my family than with the narrow minded hoard that inhabited the rest of the town. The day I told Terry of my attraction to boys it barely registered a blip. I remember a little sideways glance and then we went back to playing with our trucks before climbing our favorite tree. I’m not sure what the exact definition of friend or acceptance is but I’m pretty sure if you look either up in the dictionary there will be a picture of Terry’s smiling face.  

 

The rest of my high school years were brutal. My parents had encouraged me to live my “true” life and in theory they were right. In practice, not so much. Being gay in my home town was to say the least complicated and truth be told it was a recipe for disaster. It was bad enough that everyone knew but what made it worse was no one else was gay. Yes, that’s right, 500 kids in my class and over 2000 in the school and I was the only gay one. A school full of kids from different families, different backgrounds and different ideals and Terry was the only one who stood beside me, the only one who would admit to being my friend. As a result the two of us had something in common, we each had only one friend but to us one was enough. Like I said I was born into the right family but I lived in the wrong town.  

 

It’s a funny thing about being gay, you have a sixth sense, a “gaydar”. I know that’s cliche but it’s true. I could tell the guys in my school who were in the closet and I even liked some of them but if I ever tried to act on my feelings that was when I received the aforementioned beatings. It became clear to me that I could live my true self as long as I didn’t try to actually do anything about it.  

 

No one was happier than me when I walked across the stage and received my diploma, well except for maybe Terry. The two of us were getting out of this town and were headed to college where we hoped we would find greater acceptance. We no longer climbed trees or played with trucks but we were still thick as thieves and we were going to college together. 

 

When you spend your life feeling like an outcast, trust doesn’t come easily and neither Terry nor I were ready to take a chance college would be any better than high school. For this reason we rented a small apartment just off campus instead of taking our place in the dorms. This allowed us to live together and also gave us the chance to see from a safe distance if things were really different. Two old friends, inseparable and like minded, living together. What could go wrong? In a word, everything.

 

From the moment I met Terry the only feelings I had were platonic. This made sense, I didn’t know it when we met, but Terry was never my type. Not only was I gay I was particular. I wanted boys but I wanted them big and strong. To say the least Terry was nothing like that. Yes, my feelings for Terry were always platonic until they weren’t.

 

This brings me to my secret. The first time I ever really saw Terry everything changed. We had been friends for ten years but that day in our apartment was the first day I had ever seen Terry naked. We both knew we weren’t interested in each other, we were friends that was all but there had never been a time where being naked would have fit into our friendship until now. Terry had just taken a shower and walking across the room to get the clothes, left on the chair, I was treated to the most beautiful body I had ever seen. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have many points of reference, just a few magazines and a couple of porno's I had watched online, but this was different. I had been wrong all along about my type. Terry was not muscular, not really or at all hairy, but I was floored at what I was seeing. All of a sudden I realized Terry was more than a friend. I had been too blind to see it and now all I could think about was how this would play out. If I told Terry it might change everything, heck who am I kidding, it would change everything. Could we still be friends? Did Terry have an inkling or feel the same.  

 

There is a saying in football that when you throw a pass, three things can happen and two of them are bad. That seemed to be a metaphor for my new dilemma. I could reveal my feelings and Terry could say thanks but no thanks and we could go back to being friends but with a giant cloud over our heads. I could pour out my soul, freak Terry out and lose my one friend, or I could trust my instincts and find that maybe, just maybe Terry felt the same. The only thing I knew was that the status quo would not work.  

 

Love at first sight is a myth, I had fallen in love with Terry in that moment but it was a love nurtured over years. It was trust and acceptance and kinship. It was shared experience and unified outlook and commonality. It was love and it was with Terry and I had to be honest.  

 

Public places are the best place for shocking declarations and as much as I knew that Terry wouldn’t make a scene, I wasn’t taking any chances. I set up a table for two at a local restaurant and told Terry I wanted to treat for dinner to say “Thank you” for all the years of support. Never underestimate the power of free food, as odd as my request seemed to me, Terry accepted without hesitation and the “date” was set. The day of our dinner had each of us in class with different start and end times so we agreed to meet at the restaurant. Terry would be there first, get the table and order drinks and I would come as soon as my class let out.  

 

Seeing Terry sitting there waiting crystallized the gravity of what I was about to do. There was no way to know how it would come out but there was no turning back. As I sat down and looked across the table at the object of my affection my heart began to race and my palms began to sweat. I grabbed my wine glass and drank its contents in one gulp. I then cleared my throat and posed the question. “Can you keep a secret?”

 

“With my life.” came Terry’s response. “You know that.”

 

“I’m in love with someone who has no clue about my feelings.” The words, in any other situation would have been totally normal for old dear friends but nothing about this was normal.

 

“That’s fantastic, I think.” Terry responded “Are you sure they don’t know?”

 

“I’m not sure, do you know?”

 

“Do I know? What do you mean? You are in love with me?” I nodded my head. “Yup, it’s you. I’m as surprised as you are. So what do you think?”

 

“You know I’m a girl right? And that you’re gay.”

 

“I thought I was but turns out I was wrong.” and with that I filled my glass, again emptied it in a single swig and waited for Terry’s response.

 

“All of a sudden I’m not hungry.” The look on her face reminded me of the day I told her I was gay but instead of going back to playing with trucks she smiled, took my hand and said “Let’s get out of here.”

 

Can you keep a secret? I guess anyone can but my question to you is, why?

 

August 20, 2020 16:18

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90 comments

Velma Darnell
17:51 Aug 25, 2020

WOW! That's such a wonderful story, and the plot twist at the end made me sigh. It's so sweet and emotional at the same time, and the way you described everything made the story even more catchy! This story is like one of those romantic films, where you emphasize the characters' emotions. You did a great job here, Thom! Keep writing :) p.s. I was wondering if you could check out my story "Hi, darling" when you have time and tell me what you think? Thanks!

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I.B. Dunn
18:34 Aug 25, 2020

I really appreciate the heart felt feedback. As a new writer I need it.

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Woooow this was great

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I.B. Dunn
17:02 Aug 20, 2020

Thanks, this concept has been running around my head for a while and finally came out. :-)

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No problem! P.s could you please check out my most recent story? Thanks!

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I.B. Dunn
17:07 Aug 20, 2020

Absolutely, it was already on my list. :-)

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Thanks!

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Oh my gosh, this was an amazing story. When you revealed that Terry was a girl, I was really surprised and read it all again. I had no clue! You did a great a job with this story. I hope you have good day and that you stay safe. Happy writing!

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I.B. Dunn
16:44 Aug 24, 2020

Thank you, thank you and thank you. The feedback is invaluable. You stay safe as well!!!

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Roshna Rusiniya
04:02 Aug 24, 2020

This was a beautiful story. I loved your portrayal of characters. My favourite part was the last paragraph. That ‘why’ was spot on!

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Rhondalise Mitza
01:02 Aug 22, 2020

😱💖wow! This reminds me of so many good romance books! If only it had been a bit longer, the character development would have been so much more amazing. It’s already MASTERFUL how you evaded mentioning gender, though, I was completely in shock; the way you were so subtle about the entire plot was beautiful. 💖🌸hearts and flowers, hearts and flowers. Also a 🦄 unicorn to go along with the rainbows. 😊

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Rhondalise Mitza
01:04 Aug 22, 2020

One thing, though, and I promise I don’t mean to nitpick, but was Ricardo not hay at all or did he just like boys and girls or just boys and one girl named Terry? If it didn’t take away from your story, mentioning that after the main twist could be an excellent character arc if that makes sense. It’s really great how it is, though, too.

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I.B. Dunn
02:23 Aug 22, 2020

This was an idea I had for a longer story and in that story he was going to discover he wasn’t gay at all. I toned that down because I didn’t want to offend anyone but now you know the truth. 😀. I really appreciate the feedback. You are so talented so to hear your words really encourages me.

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Rhondalise Mitza
04:36 Aug 22, 2020

No worries! And I’m not offended, just was curious.

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Patricia Adele
22:51 Sep 08, 2020

Hi Thom. I guess you realized by now that my comment here was actually for "Hope". I like this one as well and now I have to back and reread both!

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I.B. Dunn
22:54 Sep 08, 2020

Thank you on both. I kind of figured that and I am grateful for your kind words

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Patricia Adele
22:27 Sep 06, 2020

Hi Thom, I'm new her and yours was one of the first stories I read. Hope. I have a few dogs and I got two of them after having some difficulties that made me search deep within in order for me to move on. These particular pups were named Grace and Faith . I would walk saying."well you can't have one without the other". Your pain and love were described so eloquently that I went back in time and felt the bittersweet moments of when I too had to set my own dear sweet friends on the path of the Rainbow Bridge Well done! Patricia

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I.B. Dunn
22:32 Sep 06, 2020

I can’t read the Rainbow Bridge without crying like a baby. I really love my dogs. Thank you so much for your kind words and a warm welcome to Reedsy.

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Hannah B
19:10 Aug 31, 2020

Great story! I think this is my favorite of yours so far. The narrator's voice is wonderfully personal and natural, like I'm sitting down chatting with a friend. The twist was fantastic--when I saw that Terry was a girl, I actually had to go back and skim the whole story just to verify that no pronoun had been used before. Very well done!

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I.B. Dunn
19:39 Aug 31, 2020

Thank you so much. I think I enjoyed writing this one the most as well. It was a challenge, avoiding the pronouns, but there was once a 50,000 word novel written without using a single e so I guess my wasn't that hard after all. Seriously though, thank you for your time and kind words. You are a gifted writer so compliments from you mean a lot to me.

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Wake Lloire
17:20 Aug 31, 2020

Oh! You were right Thom! It is so wonderfully written. This made my cry! I didn’t see it coming, and having fallen in love with friends, and knowing my sexuality to be as fluid as my gender, this really got me. Thank you again for reading my story, and encouraging me to read yours.

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I.B. Dunn
17:30 Aug 31, 2020

It was my pleasure and thanks so much for the positive feedback. :-)

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Lori Colt
03:33 Aug 30, 2020

What a fantastic twist. I did not see that ending coming. Great story. One thing I'm working on and it might help you too is more showing and less telling. Some writers are so masterful at that and I think it only adds more interest to a story.

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I.B. Dunn
03:36 Aug 30, 2020

That is my kryptonite. I know what I should do and yet when I’m done I haven’t done it. I hope in the near future you will be telling me how much better I’m doing at it. 😀. Thanks for the read and the feedback.

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Lori Colt
03:50 Aug 30, 2020

Likewise!

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B Easton
20:36 Aug 29, 2020

Wow, this was a really good story. liked the characters and thought you did a good job of getting us into the main character's head. I also thought the twist that Terry was a girl was also cool, although i will say it felt a little weird that a girl would want to walk around naked in front of a guy, even if she thinks he's gay.

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I.B. Dunn
20:45 Aug 29, 2020

Yeah that was the part that seemed the biggest stretch but it was a commentary on how close they were. Thanks for the read and the feedback. :-)

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Aparna Jagannath
04:54 Aug 27, 2020

I loved your story. It was marvelous and full of surprises. Excellent. I don't have words to describe how I felt after reading it. I could not take my eyes off even for a moment. Awesome! Looking forward to reading your stories.

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I.B. Dunn
12:28 Aug 27, 2020

You are so kind. Thank you for your time and encouragement.

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Felicity Edwards
14:38 Aug 21, 2020

Loved your story and the twist at the end is great. Keep writing.

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I.B. Dunn
14:41 Aug 21, 2020

Thank you. The encouragement definitely helps. :-)

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Laura Clark
10:20 Aug 21, 2020

Thom! This was fantastic! This was much, much tighter than your last piece and you manipulate the reader brilliantly. I have to say, the twist genuinely surprised me and I was delighted by it! So impressed with this piece. Your use of first person draws the reader in and makes us feel like your confidant. I feel like we’re having a cup of tea together as you confess your feelings. I love the way you talk about the parents and the town too - a clear show of the struggles and support that the protagonist experiences. This was great writing, we...

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H L Mc Quaid
10:01 Mar 07, 2021

Hi Thom, This a nice story, with a surprising twist, and very well-written. I did wonder why you avoided pronouns with Terry, but that was just a faint tickling. You did a good job of writing the narrative without making it seem too obvious you were doing pronoun gymnastics. In an earlier comment, you said you struggled with 'showing not telling.' I think what you could do, is show more, because there weren't that many points, when I thought, "this is too much telling." But you could make the showing more vivid. The other thing I could...

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I.B. Dunn
16:05 Mar 07, 2021

Fantastic feedback. I’m so happy you took the time to not only read my story but dissect it as well. I will be remembering this as I write I the future. I’m looking forward to both reading your stories and being red going forward. Again. Thank you!!!

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Jessie Nice
21:10 Aug 26, 2020

Oh my goodness this was so brilliantly done - what do you mean you don't hold the same, or I would say far more skill than I could have?! I honestly was completely caught off guard at the end - which means it was a story very well written !! I loved the narrating and the storytelling aspect of this piece. In my eyes it's well on the list of potential winners this week :)

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I.B. Dunn
21:17 Aug 26, 2020

Thank you so much. I was in earnest when I told you how much I admired your talent so your words carry that much more weight. You have made my day. :-)

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Mohsen Baqery
18:04 Aug 26, 2020

Okay, I wasn't expecting that :)) great work Thom. I Enjoyed it.

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I.B. Dunn
18:10 Aug 26, 2020

I am really glad the ending has caught so many off guard. I've had this idea for a while but wasn't sure if I could pull it off. Your words are kind and appreciated. :-)

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🄼🄹 🅂
16:12 Aug 26, 2020

This is sooo awesome. The plot twist at the end was phenomenal. You are an excellent writer. Keep at it. Could you check out my recent story, "True Love." Thanks, peace ✌🏾

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I.B. Dunn
16:17 Aug 26, 2020

Absolutely. Thank you. Did I earn a like? :-)

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🄼🄹 🅂
16:18 Aug 26, 2020

You've got my vote 😉

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I.B. Dunn
16:20 Aug 26, 2020

Thanks!!!!! lol

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Jane Andrews
14:07 Aug 26, 2020

Yay! You’ve been shortlisted for this one! So excited for you!

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Eve Naden
23:45 Aug 25, 2020

This: "This is 2020 and we live in a time where an African American can be president, an orange man can succeed him..." This is beautiful. It made me laugh out loud and smile and ponder over how far we've come as a society but also how far we have to go. This story is brilliant and heart-warming and a perfect reflection of what it means to be human.

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I.B. Dunn
23:51 Aug 25, 2020

Thank you so much for your kind words and your time. They are both valuable and appreciated.

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