The Shoal Isle

On The Outside (Looking In) - Part One

The pain from last night lingered throughout my sleep. My dreams were shattered fragments that woke me often. I couldn't remember any of them with any clarity except for one. I was at school. The halls were cold, dark, and lonely. I ran throughout the school, trying to find someone, anyone. I could hear students talking, laughing ahead of me, just around the next corner, but every time I turned that corner, there was no one.

Finally I came to a classroom, the only one that seemed to be populated. I fumbled for the door handle, out of breath, but it wouldn't turn. I peered in the window; I could see the teacher pointing to something on the blackboard. The students were laughing, and soon one of them noticed me. I continued to try to force open the door but it would not budge. They were all watching me now, laughing at my futile attempt to enter, and occasionally pointing at the board and then back at me. I tried to see what was written there; the teacher stepped back and I stopped dead in fear.

Ethan is a fag.

Written in large letters, they were the only thing present on the board. The students continued to laugh, mockingly, taunting me. They were all inside the classroom, and I was stuck, on the outside.

The incessant beeping of the alarm clock startled me from my fitful slumber. I think that's the first, and only, time a teenager has been thankful for that device. That dream left me feeling dead inside. What if they did know? I don't think I've ever acted "gay" at school, or anywhere. But something about that dream just shook me.

What the hell was I going to do now? I couldn't even face my parents last night; how could I ever face my friends at school again? There has to be some way out of this. Something I can do to make me not gay.

I got out of bed, and went to the bathroom. After relieving myself, I stared in the mirror for what seemed hours. Did I look gay? Was there something there now, now that I admitted it? Did I have the word "QUEER" stamped in big red letters across my forehead? I decided that as far as I could tell, there didn't seem to be any change. Maybe they won't have any idea. I knew that was a lie, though; it could only be a matter of time before someone said, "Hey, Ethan's been acting queer lately. Let's go kill that fag." And that will be the end of it.

A single tear leaked out of my eye and ran down my cheek. God, if nothing else, I'll start crying like a baby and that will be the sign they need. Wiping it away, I turned from the mirror and went back to my bedroom. Dressing quickly, I hoped that everything would be ok. I'll have to try to control myself as much as possible. Don't look at another guy, don't tell anyone about it, and CERTAINLY don't ever have sex with anyone! God, I don't need to give in to it, too!

I arrived at school, throwing my stuff in my locker and slamming it shut. I waved at a few people I knew, some of my guy friends...oh God I'm not looking queer already, am I? I headed off to my first class, afraid to make eye contact with anyone.

You ever hear of this damn thing called "The Name Game"? It's the most idiotic, frustrating, ridiculous part of the first day of any class. I think the teachers only do it so they can get out of teaching us anything on the first day. I guess I can agree with that but really, there has got to be SOMETHING else we can do! And what's worse, every single class decided to do this. English, Spanish, Geometry, and as soon as the teacher finished roll call in Biology, it came up again.

I turned around to face the kid who I would be interviewing. Maybe I'll make up some bullshit story about how I was raised by wolves in the forest or something. I think I'd make up a new life for every class, just to try to relieve some of this stupidity. Huh, relieve stupidity with more's the logic in that?

The boy across from me looked maybe a little bit younger than me. He had really delicate features; big brown eyes and these pouty, red lips that looked like they might have covered braces at some time. His curly brown hair seemed to form a big mess yet still look clean, like this kind of controlled chaos. He was really cute, actually. Oh wait, I didn't just think that, did I? Keep your head in control Ethan...both of them.

"Hey.." I managed to spit out. I really didnít look forward to another of these stupid encounters. I pulled out my notebook and got ready for the questions.

"Hey," he returned, somewhat nervously. After a few seconds he added, "I hate these things. At least I got out of it in gym." His voice was really sexy, it was a bit hazy but at this awesome teenaged pitch. Wait, not, interesting.

"Yeah. Me too. Why do they force us to do this anyway? Are they afraid we're going to not know who to cheat off of when the first exam comes our way?"

He giggled at that statement. "Yeah, this public-relations stuff sucks. But itís only for one day I suppose. I just hate thinking weíll have to do it again next year."

"Yeah," I agreed. The teacher came around to pass out the question sheets and we started right on it. "OK, name?"

"Drew. And you?"

"Ethan. Do you live in town?" What the hell are these questions?

"No actually. I kinda live on the outskirts. I take the bus home everyday. Same question..."

"Yeah. Actually I ride my bike back and forth every day. I'm only like ten minutes away."

"That's gotta be cool. You can go home whenever you want then, huh?" He asked.

"I wish! It's not quite that easy. My mom works nights, so she doesn't leave the house until about 2 in the afternoon and since we get out at 3:30...there's really no point to sneaking home then."

"Oh. Well, next, what do you want to study when you graduate?" He asked, pen ready to write.

"I was thinking of dropping out senior year and joining the circus." I stated matter-of-factly. He stared at me, eyes seeming to boggle out of his head. He actually thought I was serious! "Iím kidding, dude. Actually I want to study film. I love movies, I canít get enough of them, even the bad ones."

"Me too! I would love to be able to produce or direct my own stuff. I couldn't do any worse than some of these Hollywood types these days."

"I hear you there. Did you see that movie ĎBattlefield: Earthí? What the HELL was that? And they made it look so cool from the previews."

"Yeah, what the hell was Travolta thinking when he decided to direct and star in that!" We both laughed, and had to fight to stay focused.

We continued on down the sheet, asking questions here and there, making jokes about one thing or another. I was actually enjoying this for once. Here was someone I get along with great, and heís cute as hell, too! Damnit, Ethan! Control! We just discussed this this morning, no guys, ever!

But as hard as I tried I couldnít resist him. He was just so damn cheerful, and he had the cutest laugh, like when youíre tickling a small child. His eyes were so expressive, like you could read what he was going to say in them before he said it.

Finally we got down to the last question. "So, what is one thing that not many people know about you?" Drew asked, a wicked smile upon his face. Damn he looked cute. ETHAN!

"Hehehehe! Um...well...I like to do chalk drawings at home. It's sort of a hobby of mine. I've got them hanging up all over the house, I love 'em. It kinda soothes me in a way, you know?"

"Thatís really cool. I wish I could draw. Iíve been trying to teach myself forever but I canít just get it right."

"Nah, it's not so hard when you think about it. Say, if you want, maybe you could come over and see my stuff sometime."

" That'd be awesome." He looked grateful somehow. I think Drew would make a really great friend. And...ok fuck it, I have to say this, he is REALLY, REALLY DAMN CUTE!!! Ok, back to business Ethan.

"Ok, your turn. What little secret do you have?"

He paused. He looked like a deer caught in headlights. "Um...well, how about this. Iím gay."

I looked at him for a second. Did he just say the g-word? After I moment I saw the joke and started laughing. "Good one, Drew. I join the circus, youíre gay. Seriously, what is your secret?"

He seemed confused for a moment but then laughed himself. "Umm, how about, I build models." He shrugged.

"I guess that works. Weíre out of time, too, good thing we finished." I turned my desk back around to face the front. The teacher began calling students up to read their questions out loud. As an afterthought, I turned back around to Drew. "Hey, what are you doing after school? Want to hang out or something?"

"Umm, sorry, I canít. I have to take the bus back home and Dad will be really pissed if Iím late."

"Well, that really sucks. Could-" I was cut off by the teacher, who called us up to read our answers. As I was rereading what I had written down. I returned to that last question, when Drew answered that he was gay. He was just joking, right? I mean, what if he really WAS queer? What if he tried to get me to join him? Maybe I should be more careful about him.

We sat back down and the rest of the class continued. I never returned to what I had been saying. Drew didnít seem to want to bring it up either and we spent the rest of the class in silence. As soon as the bell rang, he grabbed his things and, carrying them in front of him, bolted from the classroom. He didnít run, but it was the fastest walk I had ever seen.

After school, I spent the rest of the day thinking about him. I could not get him out of my mind. His cute little smile, the cute way he laughed, the cute way he would brush his hair away from his cute face when it fell forward. And his name was really cute, too. God, how many times did I just say Ďcuteí right there? Ok, Ethan, admit it. Youíve got a crush on this boy. Fine. Alright, we can deal. Just canít take it to any more than that.

Well, there you go. To be continued...

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