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CHAPTER 1: After Honesty...
Honesty is such a high price to pay. How can one be honest and lie? Everyone of us does every day of our lives and we never question why. A circle of image and lies all fueled by an overuling fear of rejection. Why reject truth except because you pray it isn’t a mirror. When do we stop? What can tell us that this is enough, no more smoke and mirrors? How do we let go of our pretentions. For many, love is that key, but even then love sometimes needs a helping hand.
Steven gently stroked the hair behind my ear, “Be happy.”
Tears welled up as he let go and walked off towards the boundary road. The late afternoon sun seemed far from warming as I sat there on the bench with the trophy of beaten copper standing by my leg. Is this what sums up secondary education? All I could do was hang my head and let the tears make rivulets in the mud. Powerless to stop him walking off.
The A33 was speeding past under the bright red car as we drove off towards Reading. “Steven! Be glad you are rid of that tosser!” Linda chastised.
“Why be glad? He hurts Lins, real pain.”
“He shouldn’t expect you to just run back. Be yourself, be independant, be free!”
I was hardly impressed, “You sound like a speech writer from the French Revolution.”
“I could imagine myself in that gear. With a nice handsomely dressed Citizen to make sure I got home all right of course,” she added laviciously.
“God! That’s all I need! Images of your perversions,” I buried my head in my arms on the dashboard.
“You only wish you got to lay the revolting young labourer. Tanned and muscled with a layer of sweat and eyes that smoulder.”
I was uncomfortably aware of the bulge between my legs. I quietly prayed that Linda wouldn’t notice. Some chance.
“See! All men are ruled by their dicks. Case closed. Now lets go and get something to eat.”
“Back to Basingstoke then,” I remarked as we headed around the next roundabout back the way we came. The journey back into town was passed in idle smalltalk about nothing important. At least, nothing as important as John still felt in my heart.
We pulled up outside a ‘drive-thru’ Burger King and Linda ordered our usual ‘serious discussion’ fare. I sat in the passenger seat waiting with dread for what would come. The food was collected and duely paid for and we set off towards home.
“God I knew there was something fishy about that little liar, whats-his-name, Carter!”, Mrs Dixon exclaimed.
“Queer as a nine bob note and without the shame he should have,” added my father.
“Makes me sick thinking that he pretended to know you dear,” she said before giving me a peck on the cheek, “I blame the parents. They let them run riot, they really do. Need a good strong moral education.”
She fussed with her hair as she got in the car and did up her seatbelt. Again I felt powerless to do anything but hide. I felt terrible.
“Oh, John,” my dad began, “Would you mind helping me clean the shed out tommorrow?”
“Umm sure. I’m not doing anything,” I replied hoping my parents didn’t notice my voice catching.
“Oh good,” dad said as he started the car. The journey was passed in idle chatter for my parents and for me in the image of Steve’s pain filled eyes after I had kicked him. I held back tears for my parents’ sake even though I felt like I could weep forever. I had lost him, I was sure of it. I just wished there was a way to get him back, to hold him tenderly in my arms. I dismissed the thought as wishful thinking. I quietly sang to myself as the car sailed home:
I’m so sorry (make it plural)
My heart’s broken (mine’s the same)
I still love you (make it plural)
You’re so sweet!
The flowers smell sweeter the closer you are to the grave.
The flowers smell sweeter the closer you are to the grave.
I restrained the sobs that tried to get out but inside I was dead. How I wished for someone like Linda. That person had yet to appear.
“I can’t believe it,” Mark said to Wendy. They were sitting together on the grass outside the school. “Steven a poof.”
Wendy looked at Mark Watkins for a few moments, “He’s your friend, he’s my friend.”
“Not any more he ain’t,” Mark replied shaking his head.
A look of shock passed across Wendy’s face, “What changed?”
“He did,” Mark stood up, “Come on. Let’s go and find Jess.”
Wendy sighed and stood up as well. Why couldn’t he accept Steve for himself? They walked back into the school.
They found Jess sitting outside the main hall staring at her feet. Wendy put her hand on Mark’s arm and whispered for him to approach quietly. She recognised the posture of a very troubled Jessica. Something had happened.
Wendy put her arm around Jessica’s shoulders and softly asked, “What’s up Jess?”
Jessica flinched slightly at the touch but then relaxed when she realised who it was, “It’s nothing important.”
Wendy motioned for Mark to join her on Jessica’s other side, “Bullshit. You arent a good liar.”
Jessica smiled, “I don’t understand why the world is so full of wankers.”
“Who did what?” Mark asked confused.
“It’s John,” Jessica cursed herself for the slip and hurridly continued, “Kevin, Dave. That lot.”
Mark didn’t appear to notice, “What have they done?”
“They were what made Steve give his speech.” Well it wasn’t a lie, it just wasn’t the complete truth.
Mark’s face darkened and Wendy quickly cut off any comment, “They beat him up?”
“Sort of, yeah. Then when Steve, Linda and I were sitting here that twat Kevin came up and started harrassing him. He asked me if I was listening back in the hall. That I should get away before I caught something. Such a dickhead.”
Wendy noticed Mark looking uncomfortable and decided that she had better get him away before he said something offensive, “Are you all right now?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Thanks for listening.”
“No problem. Friends through everything,” Wendy shot a look at Mark, “I’ll call later. Bye.”
Wendy stood up and pulled Mark down the corridor after her. Jessica just giggled as he tripped over his feet, “Bye.”
I knew Linda would go into “mother hen” mode. We were lying on my bed together having had our fill of fast food. The results of our banquet were strewn over my floor.
“Steve,” Linda finally spoke up, “Put some music on please.”
I got out of the bed and walked over to my CD player. Slamming the first CD I could find in, I pressed play. Piano music filled the air and I went back to lie on the bed.
“So what are you doing this summer?” Linda asked, turning her head towards me slightly.
“You know me. Very little social life,” I kept my eyes fixed on a spot directly above my head, “Probably moping around all day.”
“You will get over him. I’m sure he is over you already.”
“Oh thanks. That cheers me up,” I muttered.
“Sorry, that came out wrong. I meant to sa...” she trailed off as she looked at me concerned. The song had just changed on the CD and I was gasping as I tried to hold back sobs.
“What’s wrong Steve darling?” Linda sounded worried.
“The song,” I gulped, “You’re so beautiful.”
“What about it?”
“It was what was playing as I danced with John at the ball.”
“You didn’t dance with John,” Linda was trying to be rational, “You danced with me.”
“But it was John I was really with.” I couldn’t hold the tears in any more. Linda pulled my head onto her chest and held me as I cried for what I had lost.
My name is John Dixon and I’m gay. I have been all my life and I am scared. I have just lost the person who means most to me and I have no idea what to do to get him...
My dad’s voice came up the stairs, “John! Dinner!”
Rubbing the tears out of my eyes I hid my battered red journal under the matress and stood up. Composing myself I walked out the door to face the inevitable topic of conversation, Steve’s speech.
“Well I know it is his last year but even so...” my Dad stopped as I entered the dining room, “Ah! Here is the champ himself!”
“We are so proud of you,” my mum added.
“We were just talking about that Carter kid.”
I looked up warily, “You were?”
“We were called to join a campaign to stop him from slaking the school reputation again. They want him expelled.”
“Expelled,” I echo quietly.
My dad shifted slightly, “Well I understand it is his last year next year, but as I was saying he can’t be allowed to undo all the good reputation built up by Mr Alcock.”
My mum continued, “We have agreed to join. I know you will be at Oxford next year but being head boy, your words carry a lot of weight still with the headmaster. Will you help?”
I sat there stunned. They just asked me to help them expell the man I would die for. Fortunately, they took my dumbfounded expression to mean something else. My dad said, “I know that you like to take your time before making up your mind. Why don’t you sleep on it?”
I glanced up from the spot on the table my eyes had fixated on, “Ok, yeah.”
The rest of dinner passed in a blur. How could I help them, but how could I get out?
It was dinner before my dad spoke, “How could you have been so stupid Steven?”
I just sat there in vague shock, “Excuse me?”
“Telling the whole world? Embarrasing us in the process?”
“Graham,” my mum warned.
“What? He should learn to consider the consequences of his actions before going ahead.”
I couldn’t take any more. I stood up and stormed out shouting, “Nice of you to be so supportive.”
My mum found me a couple of minutes later clutching my teddy and crying. She sat down on the bed next to me and hugged me. She soothed me like she might have done when I was a baby. Rocking me slowly she said, “Shhh... it will take time. He had so many plans.”
I gulped back tears as I replied, “When would I have got a say?”
She had no answer and just continued rubbing my shoulders and gently rocking me off to sleep.
I was glad I had a copy of the school magazine spare. I had cut out Steven’s photo and article and stuck both into my diary. It was at these I was staring, wondering what to do. A faintly pained smile played across my lips as I remembered what we had done and where. We had even done it on the patio once knowing that we were safely alone. Today I had thrown that all away, and for what? A trophy that means nothing and a life I don’t really want. I wanted Steve, not anyone else girl nor boy. My eyes were glistening as I looked up at the mirror and said, “You’re a fuckup, aren’t you?” I stared at my reflection and seeing a man I hated, turned back to where, in my journal, I had left off earlier.
My name is John Dixon and I’m gay. I have been all my life and I am scared. I have just lost the person who means most to me and I have no idea what to do to get him back. I am terrified of people knowing my dirty secret but I am also terrified of losing Steve forever. Perhaps the answer is to put aside personal feelings and live the life others expect me to lead but that would be hollow. However, hollowness may be the only way I will survive this. It has taken me two months to get the courage to write those three words, ‘I am gay’, explicitly even in the privacy of my diary. My brain tells me to forget about Steve, to be someone I’m not. My heart tells me to do everything in my power to get him back. Who should I believe?
Song sung by John Dixon: How Long's A Tear Take To Dry by The Beautiful South
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to comment on the story.
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