The Shoal Isle

On The Outside (Looking In) - Part Four (Finale)

I woke up Friday morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Seriously, who comes up with these phrases? And since when did I become such a morning person? I jumped out of bed, heading for a quick shower before returning to my room to dress. I took one of my best shirts from my closet, one I usually reserve for parties and stuff, and a pair of cargo pants that I was hoping would show off my ass a little. Oh shit, what am I doing? Hell, Drew just has this effect on me...And fuck it, itís Friday, heíll be coming over tomorrow! I ignored the feeling of fear that tried to enter my heart and instead focused on the happiness there. Hey, the most awesome boy I know is going to be here tomorrow! School is going to take FOREVER today!

I was early getting there again, and waited for Drew to get off the bus. As soon as I saw him step down, I shouted out to him. This time, there was no searching around, he knew to look right for me.

Meeting up with him, we walked into the school together, chatting about the previous day. I mentioned his singing again and he kept denying how good he was. He tried to tell me that I was really good. I guess I never really thought about it, my voice was ok, maybe even good, but his was just plain AWESOME!

We headed into the building, still talking as we each stopped by our own lockers. Finally the early bell rang and we separated toward our own classes. Everything took so damn long today; English, Spanish, Geometry...I swear, the clock went BACKWARDS sometimes! Biology was the bright light of the day, though. I think Iíve probably said this before a hundred times but everything was just better when Drew was around. Somehow at that point I WANTED time to slow down, just so I could spend more with him.

I kept trying to convince him to eat lunch with my other friends and me today. He seemed to be in an exceptionally good mood today, even more so than his usual chipper self, and as I kept pestering him I could see his resolve beginning to weaken.

Finally, he blurted out, "Okay, Iíll eat with you today! Sheesh!" I giggled at him; he was trying to make me think he only did it because he wanted me to shut up, but I could tell he really wanted to make me happy. He was such a sweet kid.

"Alright, just meet me at the cafeteria entrance then." I replied back. He gave scowled at me, but I still saw a smile light up his face when he turned back to face the blackboard. Kick ass!!

We met up at the cafeteria entrance, and even though he pretended to be upset, I could tell he was excited to meet my friends. We went through the line; well, I went through it. Drew just followed me, as he had brought his own lunch. We then began the customary search of the cafeteria, looking to see if any of my friends had already taken a table. I spotted Joey and Brian at one of the smaller tables, and Joey waved me over when he saw me looking. Drew and I made our way to the table, just as Jermaine joined us. The little group was relatively complete.

I sat down and Drew sat next to me. The others all gave him an odd look, and I realized they probably didnít know Drew and were wondering what he was doing here.

"Guys, this is Drew, I told you about him. Drew, this is Joey, Brian, and Jermaine." I pointed each of them out to him.

"Nice to make your acquaintances, guys," he said, offering his hand.

They all seemed to take it, rather coldly replying back, "Yeah, same here." What the hell was their problem?

The other three ate in silence, occasionally giving Drew a hard stare, and I could tell he wasnít feeling too welcome. Finally, he stood up, saying, "I should probably get going, Ethan. I have a test to study for before my next class. Iíll see you tomorrow." And he left.

"Great, way to go, guys," I admonished. "Whyíd you do that? Make the kid feel like he isnít welcome."

Jermaine seemed somewhat embarrassed; he was my best friend next to Drew and I could tell he felt sorry. Joey spoke up. "Ethan, dude, heís like one of the social outcasts of the school. I canít believe you hang out with him. Nobody else goes near the kid."

"Why? What did he ever do?" I asked.

Brian answered for him. "Heís just always been a loner and shrugged everybody off. So they decided he wasnít worth it anyway. I think youíre the only one who ever talks to him, let alone have him talk back."

"Well, that was really nice of you guys. A real class act, just staring at him until he left." I was more than a little pissed at them. They didnít even give him a chance, just went with the idea that he was supposed to be an outcast. God forbid they ever find out about me.

Jermaine started to defend them but I cut him off. "Huh, well screw you guys then. I canít believe you. Iíll talk to you later." I stood up and hurried to empty my tray and try to catch up to Drew.

I managed to catch him just a few minutes before the lunch period was to end. "Drew, look, Iím sorry about those guys. They..."

"Itís ok, Ethan. As I said, Iíve always been on the outside." He tried to be strong but I could tell it still hurt him. "Look, Iíll call you tonight and weíll see each other tomorrow anyways." He turned and left, glancing back occasionally. Every time he did, I tried to smile back reassuringly. Damn those three, Iím gonna kill them.

As he walked away, my eyes followed him down the hall. His delicate hips swiveled back and forth slightly as he walked, making him even more cuter, if that were even possible.

"I love you, Drew," I whispered, more to myself than to anyone. Turning to my locker, I nearly bumped into Joey. "Um, hi..."

"Did you just say what I think you just said?" He asked, disbelief apparent on his face.

"Ummm....." Oh shit. What have I gotten myself into? I tried to change the subject. "What are you doing here, Joey?" Smooth, Ethan.

"I wanted to apologize for how we acted. That was harsh. But what the hell, did you just say you LOVE him?" He seemed to catch from my seriousness that I really did. Great, no backing out of this one. "Oh shit, what the fuck Ethan, are you gay?"

"Look, Joey, I..." I started to say but he cut me off.

"Oh my God, Ethan, seriously, how can you do this?" He started to back away. "Thatís just not right dude, are you really a fag?"

Hearing that word, from someone I considered a good friend, just drove me over the edge. I could feel it building up inside me, and now it was going to be released. I grabbed him by the front of his shirt and pulled him sideways, pushing him back into a locker.

"Look, Joey, donít fucking cut me off when Iím talking." Shit I was pissed. "So what the fuck if I am gay? Iím still the same person youíve always known. I didnít just change overnight. This is how Iíve always been. I was gay yesterday and I was gay last week." Fuck I canít believe Iím saying this. "You knew me then and I was cool, and now you know a little bit more about me, but that doesnít change who I am. Iím not going to suddenly start prancing around or lisping or whatever."

"But..." he tried to break in, but it was his turn to be cut off.

"Look, maybe I like Drew as more than a friend, ok, but thatís my problem, and Iíll deal with it. You donít have anything to worry about from me, itís not like Iím going to suddenly try to jump you or anything. You get me?"

"Umm...yeah..." he was acting really nervous now. I think my outburst scared him! "Look, Ethan, Iím sorry. This is really new to me, I mean I didnít any queers...I mean, gay people before." Well, at least he was trying. "I wonít tell anyone, really. Just...give me some time to adjust, ok?"

I wasnít sure if I should trust him, Joeyís always been a little loose-lipped, but I had never seen him shaken before either. "Promise me you wonít tell anyone, Joey. And remember, Iím still the same Ethan you knew yesterday. I didnít change, only your perception of me did." Wow, when did I become this eloquent?

"I promise man, really. Look, Iíll call you tomorrow or something, ok?" I nodded and let him go. He walked away slowly, glancing back at me ever few steps. I just hope he kept his word.

"You donít have to worry about him telling anyone, sissyboy," a voice from behind me whispered. I spun around, almost tripping over Rodney. He was a year older than me but was in a few of my classes. I had always been relatively indifferent to him; we werenít friends but we werenít enemies either. Looks like that was going to change.

"Uh, Rodney, what do you want?" I backed up a few steps.

He laughed. "I heard what you just said to your little friend there. Your days are numbered. By the time school gets out, everyoneís gonna know your little secret, bitch." With that, he pushed me, and I fell backwards, hitting my head against the floor. He snickered and walked away.

I hurried to my next class and sat down at the first available seat. Please let this be a bad dream. Please. Donít let him tell anyone. Oh God, what was I going to do? The rest of the class arrived and I could already feel their eyes on me, hear their whispers circulating around the room. How long before Drew finds out? He wonít want to hang around me either. A single tear slipped from my eye and made its way down the side of my face before I could wipe it away.

The rest of the day was even worse. Walking down the hall, I could hear their whispers of "Weíre gonna get you, fag!" and "Wait till the locker room, pussy!" By now the whole school had to know. They were all staring at me. I tried to keep strong, to ignore their taunts, ignore those who intentionally bumped into me as I went to my next class. I managed to sit through that one, but I couldnít take it anymore. I left school, ditching the rest of my classes, and went home. Luckily my mom had already left for work, so I was safe there. I made my way to my room, collapsing on my bed and bawling my eyes out.

What was going to happen to me know? This was it, no more friends for Ethan. Joey said he might be ok with it, and Jermaine and Brian probably would too, if I could talk to them, but they sure as hell wouldnít want to hang out with me anymore. Theyíd be set in the same group, too. God, all because of a three-letter word that throws people into a label of being a deviant, my life was over.

I fell into a fitful sleep, only to be awakened a few hours later by the phone. Groggily, I answered, only to hear the one voice I never thought Iíd hear again.

"Ethan, whatís up? Just wanted to make sure weíre still on for tomorrow afternoon." Drewís voice was music to my ears.

"Uh, yeah, Drew, of course..." I couldnít help but sound confused. Maybe he hadnít heard yet? I almost felt like telling him right there, but decided against it. Iíd rather spend the last day with Drew in peace, even though Iíd be hiding who I am, rather than lose him now.

"Is something wrong, dude?"

"Um, no, no everythingís fine. Iíll see you tomorrow then?"

"Ok, yeah. Sorry I canít talk long today, Dad needs me to help him with some stuff. Iíll be over at about two, ok?"

"Alright, see you then." I collapsed back on my bed. This was futile; I was hoping there was still some way heíd be my friend, but Iím sure he somehow hadnít heard yet, I mean he DID say he was always alone. But Iím sure come next week heíll hear, and that will be the end.

I managed to waste away the rest of the night watching TV and just sitting around. I didnít eat with my parents, for fear that Iíd break down in front of them. I went to bed early, around 9 PM.

Sleep was fitful at best, I kept awaking from some terrible dream but I could never remember what it was about. Finally morning came around and I got up. Hell, I was never up before 10 on a weekend but I couldnít sleep anymore. I took a long, hot shower, which seemed to help relieve some of my tension.

I decided, hell, might as well look good for this last time. I dressed in what I considered to be my best shirt, one I almost never wore, and another pair of cargo pants that DEFINITELY would show off my ass. Hell, might as well go out with a bang.

I started to walk out to the kitchen to get some food, and almost ran into my mom. Why is she all dressed up?

"Good morning, Ethan," she said as she went ahead of me. "What are you doing up this early?"

I decided to tell the truth, or at least some of it. "I went to bed early last night and couldnít sleep, so I thought I might as well get up. What are you guys all dressed up for?" Dad was looking good, too.

"Honey, did you forget that Joan and Steve are getting married?" Joan and Steve were two of my momís friends. I had forgotten about it, actually. "Joan is having a bridal shower and your father is going to Steveís bachelor party."

"Oh, yeah. Must have slipped my mind." Shit, Joan and Steve lived all the way across town. It was like an hour and a half drive one-way. At the least, they wonít be back until late tonight! I was going to be alone with Drew here! "Do you guys really have to go?"

"Oh, honey, donít be silly. We couldnít miss this, they would be crushed," Mom answered. "Besides, I thought youíd be glad to have the Ďold peopleí out of the house while your friend was here."

Damn it, there was no way I could get them to change their minds. I guess Iíll just have to run with this. "I guess..."

Dad picked up, "Ethan, thereís some money for you guys to order a pizza, and of course there are drinks in the fridge. Does...Drew, right? Does he have a ride home?"

Actually I wasnít sure, he hadnít mentioned it. "His dad was going to drive him here, I guess heíll probably take him home too."

"Ok, well if for some reason he doesnít, he can stay here for the night, if you guys want to." What?! Dad just said Drew could sleep here?

"Um, ok, thanks." I needed to get out of here for a little and clear my head. "I think Iím going to go for a little bike ride, Iíll see you later. Love you."

"Bye, honey. Weíll probably be gone by the time you get back."

Well, they meant well, I suppose. I hopped on my bike and rode around aimlessly for a while. Eventually I noticed I was getting close to the park where Drew and I had lunch. I let my bike fall to the ground and sat underneath the old tree where he and I usually sat. I was really going to miss this. Not only the beauty of this park, of sitting here in the sun, just enjoying the awesomeness of the nature around us. More so, I was going to miss the beauty of Drew, of being able to sit here in his company and enjoy his presence.

I sat there under the tree for a while longer, before deciding I had better get home before Drew arrived. Picking up my bike, I said a silent good-bye to this park. I knew I wouldnít be returning here again.

I came back to an empty house. Yup, Mom and Dad had already left. Wow, I was gone almost three hours, it was already 1 oíclock. I made a quick scan of the place to make sure everything was in order. Looks good, I thought to myself. I was pulled away from checking the house by the doorbell. Great, Mom probably forgot her gift or something.

I opened the door and stood stunned. "Drew!"

"Duh, I said I was coming, didnít I?" He grinned.

"Oh, um...yeah, I know, I just didnít expect you already." I stepped back to let him in.

"Yeah, sorry, Dad didnít seem in the mood to drive me so I rode the bus." He walked into the living room and sat down on the couch.

"Oh, I see..." Great. I didnít want to make him ride the bus back home but I donít know if I could stand having Drew sleep over!

"Yeah, so letís get started on this." He motioned for me to sit next to him, and I did, managing to sit as far away as possible.

We managed to work on the project for an hour or two when Drew announced we should take a break. "Show me around the place, man. Whereís your room?"

Gulping, I took him on the Ďgrand tourí Ė ok, more like five-cent tour. When we got to my room, he jumped in front of me.

"Nice room! A computer, a TV, PlayStation AND N64, kewl." He seemed pretty impressed.

"Yeah, I guess." I started to pull him away when he yanked me further into the room.

"Címon, letís play a few rounds of Goldeneye, I own at that game!"

OK, did he just challenge me? At GOLDENEYE nonetheless! Itís on. I popped in the cartridge and got everything set up. We were pretty even, actually. Things seemed to run neck and neck the whole time we were playing. Finally we grew tired of it, seeing as how neither one of us was apparently going to win. We eventually threw down our controllers and shut the machine off. Drew rolled onto his back, lying on my bed. He looked so beautiful to me that I wanted to cry. God, how this hurts. I laid next to him, and neither of us said anything, just enjoyed each otherís company. I wondered, would this be the last time we ever got to do this?

Finally, Drew sighed and stood up. "I suppose we should get back to work."

"Yeah, I guess so." I didnít want to end it but it was probably for the best. I should quit torturing myself like this.

As he started to head towards the door, he glanced at my desk. "Dude, youíve got South Park on DVD? Man, we so have to watch this tonight!"

"I donít know, maybe..." I trailed off.

"Come on! Pizza and a movie, what could be better? Besides, how many people can say they had Drew over to watch South Park?"

Damn it. He had a point there. Why was this boy always right? Maybe itís because I canít turn him down! It was almost 5:30 so we decided to order the pizza now, that way it would get here about 6 and we could watch the movie.

We went back to my room and played a couple of other games on the PlayStation until the pizza guy got here. I told Drew how to set up the computer to play the movie and get the monitor set up so we could see it from the bed, while I went to pay for the pizza and get us something to drink.

I came back to my room, putting the pizza on a chair near the bed and tossing Drew his drink. I laid next to him on the bed and we started the movie. I could feel every vibration, every tremble of his body each time he laughed, which was quite often for this movie. There were even a couple of gay jokes, which I tried to laugh at, seeing as how Drew seemed to think they were funny. He must have noticed something was wrong because he suddenly got up and paused the movie.

"Ethan..." Oh shit, I know what was coming.

"No, Drew, itís ok. I understand. Whatever rumors you heard are probably true." I couldnít help the tears beginning to fall from my eyes. "Iíll understand if you donít want to be my friend anymore." The tears were falling fast and plenty, now.

"No, I would never do that," he said as he came back over and sat next to me. "Ethan, I...why is this so hard to say? I think I love you..."

WHAT? DID DREW JUST SAY HE LOVES ME?!?! "What? Is this some sort of joke, Drew? Seriously, it isnít funny."

"No, Ethan, I could never joke about that, not with you. Ever since that first day we met, you were so nice to me, when people always seemed to shrug me off. And I just felt...something about you, that you were special. And itís just grown more and more."

I couldnít believe it! Drew felt the same way I did! No way this is happening...any moment now Iím going to wake up and realize that Iím still stuck in my lonely life.

Suddenly, Drew bent down, and before I could say anything, he kissed me. DREW WAS KISSING ME, IN MY ROOM, ON MY BED!!! I was too startled to do anything more, and he pulled away. "Iím sorry, I shouldnít have done that, I donít even know that you like me, I just assumed..." He started to move towards the door. I canít let this happen! Even if itís too good to be true, I donít want this to end yet.

"Drew, wait..." I jumped up and grabbed his hand. "I..." Címon, Ethan, you can do it. "Oh hell, I love you too!" I pulled him close to me, our lips joining together. My arms circled around his body, my hands coming to rest on his hips before moving back to squeeze his firm cheeks. He pushed me backwards and we stumbled back, falling onto my bed. I was in pure heaven; it was all I could ask for and more.

The movie remained paused, forgotten. And you know what? Maybe my life wonít be so bad after all. As long as I have Drew with me, it will all be okay. Weíll be on the outside, looking in...together.

The End.

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