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

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

90 comments

Zammie I
22:20 Aug 25, 2020

Really good light read . Love the revelation that Terry is a girl shocker !!!!! Could you check out my read it's my first no one has commented . I think it sucks and if it does I want to know why

Reply

Show 0 replies
Waverley Stark
16:25 Aug 25, 2020

Ha ha wow I really liked this. The ending was HILARIOUS. You build up this really sweet, gay guy and his friend that he falls in love with, and then reveal she’s a girl. That was extremely clever. The story was super cute and a great way to use the prompt. I liked what you had about an ‘orange man’— ugh, he makes me want to puke. Feedback: I would just use less commas. I noticed a few places in your stories where you could have put a period rather than a comma to make it a little more official. Like “Love at first sight is a myth” there co...

Reply

I.B. Dunn
16:31 Aug 25, 2020

I'm hoping light reads are good because I'm finding that is my style. There is a place for me, right? :-)

Reply

Waverley Stark
16:58 Aug 25, 2020

Of course! Right alongside PG Wodehouse, one of my favourite authors, whose 'light reads' have made him go down in history.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Marilyn Carter
01:05 Aug 25, 2020

Wow Thom!!!! That took me totally by surprise. I was not expecting that. I took the story at face value and swallowed it hook line and sinker. You got me!! I even went back and re-read different paragraphs and I can see where you hinted, but at the time, I didn't see it. Good job! A really good job!

Reply

I.B. Dunn
01:06 Aug 25, 2020

Thanks. I really appreciate the feedback. It’s so motivating.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Naomie K
15:04 Aug 24, 2020

The 360 on your story made me read it twice! I certainly didn't see that one coming..! The emotions are intense and raw. Good job. One thing though, that I found a tiny confusing is this sentence - “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?” If you spaced it, it would make it easier for the reader to understand, as in; “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...

Reply

I.B. Dunn
15:06 Aug 24, 2020

You are 100% right. I struggle not only with the content of dialogue but also the format. Thanks for the advice, trust me I need it. :-)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Pragya Rathore
13:50 Aug 24, 2020

Beautifully written! Despite social interactions and awareness about homosexuality, there's still a stigma around it. You tackled it gracefully and effectively. Great job! Very entertaining and meaningful. Five minutes well spent! :) Please check out my stories too, if you get the time :p

Reply

I.B. Dunn
13:51 Aug 24, 2020

Thanks so much and I promise I will.

Reply

Pragya Rathore
13:57 Aug 24, 2020

WOW, that was fast! :) You're most welcome :D

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Keerththan 😀
03:19 Aug 24, 2020

As promised I have read your story. Wonderful! Loved it. I was intrigued throughout the story. You conveyed the emotions amazingly. Great job. Can't wait for your next....

Reply

Show 0 replies
Lynn Penny
18:39 Aug 23, 2020

Hello! I did read your story before and I loved it. I do see this as a potential winner. Good luck this week!

Reply

I.B. Dunn
18:47 Aug 23, 2020

I thought you might have. But it was an excuse to read yours. I’m a big fan. 😀

Reply

Lynn Penny
19:43 Aug 23, 2020

Aww, thanks! I love reading your work as well :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Sue Marsh
16:29 Aug 23, 2020

very nicely done Thom, I am glad I took the time to read it at your invitation. I look forward to reading more of your works. Sue

Reply

I.B. Dunn
17:02 Aug 23, 2020

Thanks. Rightbackatcha. 😀

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Maya W.
21:18 Aug 22, 2020

Woah, I loved this story! Cool twist at the end. Now I wanna know what’s gonna happen next!

Reply

I.B. Dunn
23:06 Aug 22, 2020

This idea has been working its way around my head for awhile. I’m hoping I get the chance to expand. 😀 Oh and thank you!!!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
May Mills
18:16 Aug 22, 2020

I was on the edge of my seat while reading this, I felt myself getting nervous with Ricardo while he was getting ready to tell Terry how he felt about her. And the way you revealed Terry’s gender was mind blowing, I would have never guessed! Amazing read great job! Stay safe and well.

Reply

I.B. Dunn
18:23 Aug 22, 2020

Thank you for both the read and feedback. It’s really motivating.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Jane Andrews
07:23 Aug 21, 2020

I feel so proud of you for this one, Thom. Much as I love your 3rd person narrator stories, you achieve exactly the right tone here by adopting a first person narrator, dragging us into your story and making us care about the fictional you. It’s convincingly written and I found myself holding my breath for the big confession - and then there’s the beauty of suddenly revealing the secret that your narrator has kept for the entire story - that Terry’s a girl. And yes, like everyone else, I had to go back and reread it because I’d convinced my...

Reply

I.B. Dunn
11:39 Aug 26, 2020

Thank you more than you can know. In a short time your opinion has become one of the most important to me. This inspires me!!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kristin Neubauer
23:59 Aug 20, 2020

Amazing, Thom! Your story gave me chills - literally, I'm sitting here with goosebumps all over. What a twist....not only that but incredible writing. I'm going to read it again. I cannot wait to read more of your work!

Reply

I.B. Dunn
00:01 Aug 21, 2020

Your words inspire me. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to give feedback. Thank you!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lily Kingston
23:56 Aug 20, 2020

Damnnnn.... that was good. I love how you hide Terry’s gender for the secret reveal. Great story. Keep up the good work and keep writing!!

Reply

I.B. Dunn
23:59 Aug 20, 2020

Thank you. You reinforce my plan. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Christina Hall
23:16 Aug 20, 2020

This was good, I had to go back and re-read it knowing the end.

Reply

I.B. Dunn
23:19 Aug 20, 2020

I was hoping the end would be a surprise. Did it work?

Reply

Christina Hall
23:22 Aug 20, 2020

Yep, it worked. :)

Reply

I.B. Dunn
23:22 Aug 20, 2020

Yeah!! 😀

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Jonathan Blaauw
17:04 Aug 20, 2020

This is incredible! I saw your comment on my story and immediately rushed over for this. First thing I noticed was clever use of italics for emphasis. That was perfect. Done only when necessary and to excellent effect! And the only place you used specific repetition was deliberate, clever and, again, the effect is brilliant! And the plot is incredible. You misdirect perfectly. That must have been tricky. Sure, you've got the gender non-specific name Terry, but you cleverly constructed all sentences involving her without using any pronouns....

Reply

I.B. Dunn
00:05 Aug 21, 2020

I admit I wait patiently for your feedback. It is my favorite part of writing. You have a unique talent to write well even when it’s feedback. You, sir, are a super hero.

Reply

Jonathan Blaauw
06:23 Aug 21, 2020

It really is only a pleasure. Also, by looking closely at other writing, I learn so much about the craft. It's like kids - your own seem perfect but flaws are more noticeable in others'. I don't know if that analogy works - I'm not a parent but I've got two of them, so I think so. I think the most rewarding thing for a writer, more than fortune and fame, is to know their work is being read and making an impact. Wth your stories you have that, and with your comments you give it. So we've got a classic win-win here!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Claire Lewis
03:34 Mar 13, 2021

Wowww I absolutely didn’t see that coming! You had me completely fooled and caught up in the drama. I usually have a good sense for plot twists but not this time. As always, I utterly enjoyed the read. You capture the sense of judgment and discrimination well without overdoing it. I loved the friendship you created between Terry and Ricardo, and I wanted more! Captivating storytelling as always, and masterful misdirection. I’ll give you two options this time since I can’t decide where to send you. “Strings” is the most autobiographical, bu...

Reply

Show 0 replies

This is the best story I've ever read

Reply

Show 0 replies
A.R. Eakle
02:15 Dec 14, 2020

Hi, Thom! Excellent story! I'll have your review posted tomorrow evening!

Reply

I.B. Dunn
20:04 Dec 14, 2020

Thanks and I look forward to it. 😀

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Deidra Lovegren
22:42 Oct 23, 2020

As usual, artfully constructed with an immense amount of heart and warmth. Conversational, but intelligently so. As a reader, one can't help be bowled over by the pure charm of this piece. Still, I would love to go over this and fix all the commas, but why gild a lily? Minors grammatical and punctuation issues aside, this is as cozy as a flannel quilt in a cabin in the Blue Ridge.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Deana Estes
22:06 Oct 09, 2020

OK I'm a believer. This was really well done and nicely told. You preserved the element of surprise until the end. The telling was light, entertaining and intriguing. It has the feel of someone chatting with you over lunch, cleverly exposing their secret. He tests you and draws you in, then reveals his truth to you. By which time you are friends and you embrace that truth even if you find it surprising.

Reply

I.B. Dunn
22:43 Oct 09, 2020

Thank you. I know your concerns. I’m glad I found a way to make it work. 😀

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply