When I started my sophomore year in a new high school, I was sure it would be epically bad. Besides being the new guy in town with no friends and no social status, I also had to hide the fact that I was gay. Now, I'm not saying I had it easy back in my old neighborhood because I didn't. Being sixteen and gay is very hard and at times very scary and lonely. Especially, when you haven't come out of the closet to anyone except your two best friends who you've known since kindergarten. Around them, I could relax and act normal and not worry about how I sounded or acted. Now, surrounded by new kids who didn't know me from squat, I had to go back into hiding and play it straight for a whole year.

So yeah, tenth grade wasn't looking too bright. Then I met Devon and everything changed. It happened during my fifth-period history class. I was sitting in the back, bored out of my mind when the door opened and in walked tall, dark, and handsome Devon Ward. I couldn't help staring at him. He was beautiful. Sporting a funny lopsided haircut, he was thin yet toned, like a swimmer or dancer. The teacher had him sit in the third seat from the front in the row besides mine, and for the rest of the class, I kept my eyes fixed on my textbook, afraid even to glance in his direction.

By the end of the week, I was crushing on him bad and nearly driving myself crazy trying to figure out if he was gay or not. I couldn't just go up and ask him. That would be suicide. So I admired him in secret, stealing glances at him during class when I was sure he wasn't looking and almost becoming a stalker as I followed him to his other classes. This carried on for six months, and I still had no idea how to find out if I stood a chance with him. Then February came around and with it, the Valentine's Day dance. That's when it finally dawned on me that if I didn't hurry up and make a move, someone else would.

I wasn't the only one sneaking looks at him during class. Nearly all the girls had tried to catch his eye or gave him flirty smiles as they passed his desk. My only comfort was that Devon seemed oblivious to all the attention or was simply not interested in them. Still, with Valentine's Day and the dance only five days away, I knew it to be only a matter of time before someone snatched him up. So I gathered my courage, wrote him a note saying I liked him and that we could meet across the street in the park after school if he was interested.

I only put my first name; since there was more than one Kevin in our history class I was sure he wouldn't guess it was me. Twice I almost threw it away, afraid that Devon would show it to his friends, and I would be outed to the entire school. Praying I wasn't setting myself up for a beating, I went to his locker Wednesday morning and pushed the note into the slot between his locker door. The hall was empty, it would be at least another hour before kids began showing up. I had to force myself to walk normally down the hall and out into the courtyard where I stayed till the first bell rang. When history class came around I started having a mini panic attack. A million questions flashed through my head. How should I act? What if my face gave me away the minute I saw him. Would he question everyone named Kevin in class if they left him the note? By the time fifth period came around I was so freaked out, I almost ditched the class. Almost, but didn't because I knew if I did it would have tipped Devon off that the letter was from me. So instead, I all but ran to fifth period as soon as the bell rang, hoping to beat him there because I didn't want to walk past him to my desk.

When I got to class and found his seat empty I almost laughed I was so relieved. That relief didn't last long. I no sooner reached the safety of my desk Devon appeared in the doorway dressed in a dark blue V-neck shirt that fit him very well. He stood there for the longest time, scanning the class with those piercing steel-blue eyes of his. I knew he was looking for the guy who left the note. Before I could look away from his gaze locked onto me. My chest tightened and breathing became an issue. We stared at each other for what felt like a painfully long time, during which I was sure I had given myself away. When he started walking forward I could feel what little breakfast I ate this morning threaten to climb up my throat and make an appearance. This was it! He was coming towards me to ask about the note and my high school life would end in soul-crushing embarrassment.

The thought paralyzed me to the point that I must have blacked out for a minute because the next thing I knew Mrs. Swith, my teacher, was beginning the day's lesson and Devon was sitting at his desk. Tension eased out of every muscle in my body, one at a time and breathing fell back to a normal rhythm. I spaced out through the entire lesson, I just stared down at my textbook and notepad. A loud bell shocked me back to reality. It took a minute for me to realize class was over. As everyone rushed to the door in a large mass, I stayed at my desk packing my bag while watching Devon out of the corner of my eye. He was sitting at his desk, waiting for the crowd by the door to thin. When he stood my entire body tensed in anticipation of his approach but he didn't even look in my direction. He simply gathered his books, walked to the door and left without so much as a backward glance. I hung back until I was the last person before following. Devon's reaction, or lack of one, confused me. Did he read the note? That long, penetrating look he gave said he did and that he knew I was the one who left it. So why didn't he stay and confront me after class? Even if he was straight wouldn't he at least stick around to punch me in the face or warn me to back off? Maybe I just didn't interest him.

For the rest of the day, I walked around in a funk as a ticker tape of questions and doubt played through my mind. I flipflopped at least five times on deciding if going through with the park meeting was a good idea. On one hand, it was pointless and beyond pathetic to go if Devon wasn't interested in me and yet if I didn't go I would never know if he was interested me or not. In the end, curiosity and hope won over common sense and uncertainty.

The park was two and a half blocks away, an easy walk that I took my time with. Anxiety built with each step. By the time I reached the park a thin layer of sweat covered my face and hands despite the cool crisp air. The park consisted of a small play area with swings, a merry-go-round, and a metal slide. A short distance away was a couple of weathered picnic tables and benches. Waves of disappointment threatened to drown me in despair as I made my way to a table.

' Maybe he got caught up after class with a teacher and that's why he wasn't here. ' I tried to reason as I climbed up on the table to sit. ' I'll give him a half-hour. He has to be coming. '

I clung to that small hope as I pulled out my phone and played a pointless matching game to keep from tearing up. I knew it was silly but my feelings where hurt and I was embarrassed that I put myself out there like some desperate lovesick nerd only to be rejected. My only solace, small as it was, that Devon didn't know it was me who did it. I was so engrossed with trying to convince myself this that I didn't know I was no longer alone until a hand touched my shoulder. Let me tell you, my soul nearly left my body at that moment. Instead, my phone flew one way and I flew the other off the table. I landed with my full weight on a twisted right foot that resulted in something ripping in my foot followed by the worst pain I ever experienced. I was crying loud sobs and I didn't care who heard me. That was until I realized who was with me.

" Kevin! Holly crap, I'm so sorry. "

Strong hands grabbed my shoulders and gently pulled me up from my fetal position. With tears streaming from my eyes I looked at Devon's concerned face and thought ' Oh god I hope I don't have snot coming out of my nose. '

I for sure needed a doctor but walking was beyond my capability at the moment. So Devon carried me home, bridal style, for three blocks. Under different circumstances, I would have been beyond happy and embarrassed by this but the all-consuming burning pain in my foot trumped everything. A trip to the doctor revealed that I had a grade 2 sprain and would be out of commission for 6 to 8 weeks. That also meant no dance though that no longer mattered because I got something far better. During my recovery, Devon visited me every day after school and also on weekends to drop off missed school work and just to hang out. It turned out he was okay with my little crush and that he was open to seeing how things turned out between us. So in a way, I was right. My sophomore year did turn out to be epic.

November 15, 2019 20:39

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