Author’s note: This is a fictitious, improbable, romantic gay comedy on puberty; a make-believe myth without reference to any living or dead persons or real places. References are made to the musical titles “The Sound Of Music” and “My Fair Lady” as an interest of the characters. Copyright for those titles is held by their respective copyright owners. No content from those titles is included in this story.
Copyright for this story is held by the author known as DesDownUnder at email@example.com Personal one-off copies are permitted for private, non-commercial use. Any copying or use of this story or any portion of it that renders anyone monetary gain or profit in any form is prohibited without written permission of the author.
See more poems and stories by DesDownUnder at Codey's World: http://www.codeysworld.com/desdownunder/
I suppose I’m still young enough to remember that year with some embarrassment; a year I would never forget. It was the year my gay voice broke. I didn’t even know what gay meant. Without any idea at all, I was about to begin the change from a boy to the youth I would become
It was all fresh, unknown, and new to me. I know now I was a bit naďve; some would say very naďve, but it really wasn’t my fault. I hadn’t been allowed to play with many other kids. My parents said it was unsafe. When I asked “Why?” they told me I’d understand when I was all grown up. So I watched the world from my window until that year began. I had yet to discover that everything I thought I understood was different from the way things were. It didn’t happen quite the way it should have. I can understand that now, but could not do so then. I could barely even give it a thought.
I had never been permitted to go out alone. To say my parents were overprotective is probably an understatement. It was, however, a protection in absentia rather than a smothering presence. They looked after me, all right. They gave me everything I needed. If I never wanted anything, it was because I never really knew what I could have.
The isolation of my childhood was due to my parents hardly ever being home but I was never really alone.
Everything seemed to happen when I was nearly five years old. We moved from the city to the apartment house. Almost immediately, we went to visit my grandparents. My grandpa was very ill and my parents wanted to be near him.
Grandpa wanted to give me a present before he “went away,” he told me.
He put his hand into a box and brought out a kitten about three months old.
“This is for you,” Grandpa said. The kitten and I looked at each other, each of us trying to work out what the other was. I took him into my arms and he grabbed my finger with both of his paws.
“You have to give him a name,” said Grandpa.
The kitten pulled my finger to him and than wrapped himself around my hand.
“Huggles,” I said. “I shall call him Huggles.”
We visited Grandpa everyday. Some days he just sat in his chair, coughing. Other days, he was almost normal. I can remember him sitting me on his knee and bouncing me up and down.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” He asked me.
“An Indian,” I told him.
”An Indian?” he said, “Why an Indian?”
“So I can be like Dad.”
Dad had told me he worked in the city as a cultural apache but I didn’t tell Grandpa. I wish now I had.
“You think your dad is an Indian? Well Daryl, my boy, I think we should keep that a secret between you and me. Is that okay?” Grandpa asked me.
“Tell you what,” he said, “You can be whoever you want,“ and he bounced me again as we both laughed. I loved the way he laughed.
I remember when he died a few days later, because I didn’t like the funeral. Everyone cried.
That night, Huggles clawed up the side of my bed and made a lifelong decision to sleep alongside me whenever he could.
We stayed living in the apartment because Dad said Grandma needed us now. Mum told me I’d be going to something called pre-school after my fifth birthday. My parents still worked in the city far away. My mom was a fishing designer. At least, I think she said that was what she did. I had no idea what it meant. She talked funny, like she was very important. I generally only saw them on weekends, because they spent a lot of time away from home on trips or working in the city. I didn’t really have any friends except for my grandma and Huggles. He loved it when I gave him hugs and he hugged me back, or so it seemed to me.
Grandma did not live with us but came over to stay with me during the week while my parents were at work. Granny was very strict. She would not let me watch television. She said it was too depressing for someone my age. Instead, she showed me how she cooked. I loved making cakes. Granny showed me how to make the icing on the cake with vanilla essence and butter, which was my favourite, although I liked chocolate too. She always brought movies with her and we would watch one every night after we ate dinner. I really looked forward to the movies, especially the ones with the singing and the dancing.
All through my childhood, when I had my shower in the mornings, I used to sing the songs from the movies, especially whilst I was washing my hair. I remember seeing a preview, before one of the movies, for “The Sound Of Music” but Granny wouldn’t get it for me. She said it was too violent.
Once, she brought a cowboy movie with Indians. It made me think of my dad. I wondered if he had to wear those sorts of costumes when he got to work. I thought he would look good dressed as an Indian. I wanted to be an Indian too.
A few weeks after Grandpa died, I started going to the pre-school. It was a strange place with lots of other boys and some girls. We played games I thought were a bit silly and then we talked to each other.
That night, Granny asked me what I had learned during my first day at the school. We were eating dinner and after I swallowed a mouthful of soup, I told her, “I learned the definition of a dead rooster.”
My mum beamed with pride. Granny smiled as she sipped her soup. Dad said, “And what is the definition of a dead rooster?“
With as much childish enthusiasm as I could muster, I told them, “A stiff cock!”
It was at that moment that Granny had a coughing fit. She splattered her soup all over the table. Mum told me to go to my room and go straight to bed. I guess she wanted me out of the way, in case Granny died or something. As I left the room, Dad was trying to help Granny stop coughing. I was very worried. She was quite red in the face and her glasses were sinking into her soup.
A little while later, Dad brought me a plate of food.
“Is Grandma all right?” I asked.
“Yes, she will be fine.”
We sat in silence while I ate the food. When I had finished eating, he looked at me with a serious face.
“Where did you hear that joke?”
“What joke?” I asked. I had no idea what he was talking about.
“You know,” he said, “about the, the dead rooster.”
“Oh, that wasn’t a joke,” I said. “One of the other boys at pre-school said it was something he wanted to tell me.”
“Okay…so one of the other boys at pre-school told you that.”
“Yes, Dad,” I said.
“Do you know his name?”
“No, Dad, I’m sorry.”
“Well, he shouldn’t have told you. He was wrong. I don’t want you to ever tell anyone that…that definition again. Okay, son?
“Yes, Dad, but what does it mean?”
“You’ll understand when you are grown up. Now go to sleep and don’t worry about it any more,” said my father as he left my bedroom.
It would be some time before I realised the full significance of a dead rooster.
It would also be some time before Grandma could eat chicken again.
The next day, I stayed home. In fact, I never went back to pre-school. Granny had indeed recovered and my parents had gone back to work in the city. Granny said she was going to look after me. She had been a schoolteacher when she was young and said she would help me with my lessons.
A few months later, I went to a special school on the internet so I never had to leave the apartment building. Granny helped me log on and get the lessons. As I got older, I was able to listen to the teachers and then mail them back my answers. Granny would help me sometimes. Once, she argued with a teacher about a book he wanted me to read. It was called something like Lolly Eater. Granny said it was a bad book for children to read. Another time, she got a teacher into trouble for trying to tell me how to bypass a computer program called Net Granny. Anyway, I had my own grandma; I didn’t understand why I needed an Internet Granny as well.
As strict as my grandma was, she really loved me. On summer afternoons, we would go to the playground in the park and I would get to play with other kids on the swings and roundabouts. She made me promise never to tell mum. Our neighbours had two children, a boy and a girl who were twins. Sometimes, they came to our apartment to watch movies with Granny and me whilst their parents went out. Huggles would hide under the bed when they visited.
Once, I asked Mum where I came from, so on Sundays she occasionally read a story from a big book called the Bible to me. She used to fall asleep whilst reading, so I went to my room and played with Huggles or my toy train set. If Dad was home, he would come in and play with the trains too. Huggles would pounce on the train and derail it. He really had fun.
So passed my childhood, such as it was, until my thirteenth fateful year. I’d soon be a teenager, at last. Every year on my birthday, my parents took me out to dinner and a movie. Granny always came along with us. This particular year was different because they were both overseas when I turned thirteen. Granny had made my favourite vanilla cake with thirteen candles. When they returned home a few months later, they made it up to me by going to a really fancy restaurant with a really nice waiter. He had long dark hair and very tight black trousers. We arrived back home rather late. It was nearly eleven o’clock, way past my usual bedtime. Unusually, my Mom and Granny said they were going to watch a movie.
Dad asked me to go into his den with him. He said he had to tell me some things about being a teenager. As we walked towards his den, my mom wished him, “Good luck, dear.” That was weird, I thought.
“Thanks,” he said back to her, “I’ll probably need it.” I wondered what was going on.
My dad told me to sit down on the lounge and he sat in a chair opposite me.
“Son, you are now over thirteen years old, and you’ll have to go to a high school. Your mother and I have enrolled you in the Wunington Academy High School for young gentlemen. It is a very good high school and we think you will like it there.”
“Why can’t I go to high school on the Internet?” I asked. “I don’t want to leave home.”
“You won’t be leaving home. WAH is only a few streets away and is better than anything on the Internet. Grandma will drive you to school everyday and pick you up after. You will still live here. So don’t worry.
You will be a little older than most of your classmates because of your birthday, which brings me to the next subject.”
He then told me my body was going to go through some “changes.”
“What sort of changes?” I asked him.
“Well, “he said, “Its, its…like, like this,” he started. Why was he repeating his words? What could possibly cause him to talk like this? He seemed a little uneasy.
“You see, son, you have reached an age where you stop being a child as you grow into being an adult.” He told me, “Your body will grow bigger and harder as you get to…get, your a-adol…adolescence. Then you will become a man. A man is…is somebody who makes kids and feels wonderful.”
“Feels wonderful?” I asked.
“Oh yes, wonderful, it is wonderful to make kids, wonderful. You’ll see.
Soon you…you’ll produce a, a, ah…whitish…fluid and your voice will deepen.”
“Oh!” I said. I could see I’d have to give this a lot of thought.
“So when you start making the fluid and your voice gets deeper there is nothing wrong; it is all perfectly natural. Do you understand?” my dad asked.
“Yeah sure, Dad, I think so…. Dad?”
“How do I make the fluid?”
“Oh, err, you’ll know when the time comes,” he said. “You…you can rub with…with your hand. Do you understand?” He seemed to be getting more nervous.
“Yes, okay dad, I think so. Thanks for telling me.”
“That’s okay son. You can always, talk to me if, if, you have any questions.” He said with a strange smile. He relaxed as if he was relieved about something. We headed back to the living room where Mum and Grandma were watching their movie.
“Well?” asked Mum looking at Dad, with Grandma sitting forward in her chair.
”How did it go?”
“Very well, actually,” said Dad, “He understood it all very well.”
“Thank goodness for that,” said Granny, leaning back.
I went to my room and lay on my bed. I needed to think.
It was obvious my voice was going to change, and from what my dad had said, it was because of some white fluid called adult essence. I was on my way to becoming an adult. At last, I would soon be old enough to know all those things my parents told me I would, when I got older. So the quicker my voice changed, the quicker, I reasoned, my parents would tell me all those secrets known only by grown-ups.
Looking back, I realise I applied myself with innocent tenacity in trying to make my voice as deep as possible. I tried using my hands to rub my neck, but the only fluid I could spit up was almost clear. I started trying to talk deep. Grandma heard me talking to myself and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was learning to talk like an adult. So she got out the movie of “My Fair Lady” and started giving me voice lessons so I would learn to talk properly.
A couple of weeks before I started high school, it happened. I started to produce the adult essence, the fluid my dad had described to me. I found, just as Dad had said, I could use my hand to make it happen whenever I wanted. It was a bit of a surprise to me that it had nothing to do with my neck. I became obsessed with expelling as much fluid from my body as possible. This fluid was obviously what kept my voice high. So it seemed reasonable to me that the more of it I got rid of, the quicker I would get a deeper voice. It felt good to get rid of it too.
I also started singing louder in the shower.
On a Monday morning, a few of weeks later, I was sitting in the Wunington Academy High School principal’s office. He was a pleasant man, a little older than my dad. He was almost bald with a little grey hair at the back of his head and a round tummy. He wore glasses that made his eyes look very large. He took them off when he began to speak.
“This is a very special school for young gentlemen,” he said. “Here, you will learn the things you need to know to survive in the world when you become an adult.”
“I am getting my adult essence,” I said to him proudly.
He looked at me with a blank expression for a moment. Then he seemed to realise what I was talking about and nodded his head, saying, “Ah yes, that is what I mean, getting to your adolescence. The things you learn here will be of use to you all your adult life. They will help you know what you want to do, so study hard.” He smiled at me. “If you have any questions, you can ask a teacher or the student counsellor or even one of his assistants. Some of the senior year boys act as assistants to the counsellor.“
He leaned over his desk and pushed a button on his phone, “Send him in, please,” he said. The door opened and a tall youth of about seventeen walked in and stood to attention in front of the principal’s desk. He stood very straight. He was so much bigger than me. I wondered if I would look like him when I reached his age. I hoped I would.
“Good morning, Ian,” said the principal.
“Good Morning, sir,” he answered, with a soft but deep voice.
“This is Daryl, our newest student, and he’s quite the bright young man,” said the principal. “Would you please show him around the school and see he gets to Ms Brackenridge’s class?”
“Now, Daryl, Ian will show you around the school. He is an assistant to the student counsellor and he’ll help you if you have any problems,” said the principal.
“Now off you go, and welcome to WAH.”
“Say, ‘thank you’,” Ian whispered to me out of the side of his mouth.
“Thank you, sir,“ I said, as we left the office and closed the door.
“You did good in there. He likes you.”
“How do you know?” I asked
“I can tell when he likes someone,” he said. “He smiles.”
Ian showed me around the school. He was really nice. He walked with a kind of lift in his step. I tried to copy it.
After he showed me the cafeteria, we went outside the main building, and he pointed to the concert hall, which was also used for assemblies and graduation ceremonies. Down the back of the schoolyard, beyond the playing fields, were the sports building and gymnasium. As we walked back, he pointed to the various floors and wings of the main school building.
“Each wing is a year,” he said. “This is the second year wing. These are mostly fourteen year olds. Be careful of them. Some of them think they are tough and bully the first years. If you have any trouble, you let me know.”
We arrived at my classroom just as the teacher was calling out names.
“Ah,” she said, “you must be our new student. Daryl, isn’t it?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied.
“Good. Please take a seat at the back. You are a little taller than most of the other students, so you’ll be able to see from back there.”
I sat down at a vacant desk and took out the books that I had been given earlier. I looked around the room and noticed that several boys were watching me. They all turned away when they saw me looking at them.
The room was painted a rather anaemic green colour, and clashed with the horrid blotchy black and grey tiles on the floor. I thought it looked quite awful.
“Perhaps our new student would like to give us his opinion. Daryl?” asked Ms Brackenridge.
“Sorry?” I said.
“What do you want to be when you leave school?” she repeated a little annoyed.
“I’m really not certain,” I replied. “I mean, I guess it will depend on what I learn.”
“Very good,” she said, “I am impressed. That is an honest and sensible answer.” The other kids in the class looked at me. I wasn’t too certain what I said.
It felt strange being in a school room away from home, but after a couple of days went by, I became involved in the lessons and even began talking to some of the other boys.
We played games at lunch time. Their favourite game was something called football. I watched with amazement at how rough they were with each other. I wasn’t going to play that game. Still, I enjoyed watching them while they played, even if it didn’t make much sense to me.
At the morning assembly on my fourth day, the principal announced we would soon be trying out for the various sports teams. He said we should use this morning to look at the sports grounds and gym, to help us decide what we would like to play.
“What sport are you going to try out for?”
I looked around but couldn’t see anyone, until I looked down and saw a small, curly haired boy. He looked up at me.
“My name is Tom,” he said.
“Hi, Tom,” I said back to him.
“Oh, I can’t believe it,” he said. “You called me Tom.”
“Well, that’s what you said your name is, so what did you think I would call you?”
“Everybody ignores what I say and they call me Tommy, because I am so small, and it really annoys me.”
“I’ll remember that, Tom,” I said.
He grinned at me from ear to ear. I just had to smile back.
“What’s your name?”
“Daryl,” I said.
Now, Tom was not only short but he also spoke with the voice of a boy. In fact, it was quite high pitched.
“What sport are you going to try out for,” he repeated, as we walked across the playing fields.
“I don’t know,” I said, “I have never played any sports.”
“Never?” he asked.
“No! What about you?”
“Oh, no one wants me on their team. I am too small.”
“You’ll grow soon. How old are you?”
“I just turned thirteen last month. How old are you?”
“I’m nearly thirteen and a half,” I said. “I bet you will have a growth spurt when you get your adult essence.”
“What’s that?” he asked.
“It’s when you start making the fluid,” I said, as if I knew what I was talking about.
“Fluid? What fluid?” he asked.
“Didn’t your dad tell you about that?”
“No, he never talks to me much. Sometimes, I think he doesn’t know I exist. Hell, sometimes I’m not even sure I exist.”
“I know what you mean,” I said. I felt an uncontrollable desire to help Tom, so I said to him, “I will tell you about the fluid, if you like?”
“That would be cool,” said Tom.
“Okay,” I replied.
We were walking behind the sports building at the bottom of the school yard, so we sat down in the grass, and I showed him how to make the fluid and he was very grateful. I told him his voice would soon begin to deepen too.
“Like yours?” he asked me.
“Yes, I said. “Like mine.”
“You have a great-sounding voice,” Tom said. “I’d love to talk like you.”
I sort of liked how my voice was sounding too. I was pleased with the results of my labours. I wasn’t all that hoarse like some of the other boys. I was just deeper. Some boys still had kids’ voices, like a girl’s, but Tom definitely had a boy’s voice.
As we walked back to our classrooms, I noticed the kids from the second year classes had deep voices. Three of those kids would stand around pushing the smaller boys as they walked past. I guessed they were the bullies Ian had told me about. Tom told me the two biggest ones were called Masher and A.H. The third boy was more my size but Tom didn’t know his name.
“Why is he called A.H.?” I asked.
Tom shrugged his shoulders.
“Probably his initials,” he said.
The bullies all had gruff, mumbling voices that made them difficult to understand. It was like they had clenched their teeth together too hard when they got rid of their fluid, and they couldn’t open their jaws afterwards. I guessed that’s why they had used words to help them to open their mouths. So every time the bullies pushed one of the kids whose voice had not broken, they would practise saying a word. I think “fag” or something similar seemed to be their favourite. This helped them to at least open their mouths a little. Some kids they told to go home, I think.
Many of the younger boys acted as if they were being called a nasty name and would run away in tears. My mum had warned that some kids called other kids mean names. I felt really sorry for them. I decided I would help them.
So one by one at every lunch time I’d take one of these high-pitched voiced boys to the back of the school behind the sports building, and show them how to get rid of the fluid that kept their voices high.
Dad was right. I was becoming a man. I could make kids, feel wonderful. And that made me feel wonderful too. Soon, I helped quite a few kids who were eager to learn how to lower their voices. I was surprised that so many boys’ fathers had never told their sons how to get deeper voices. Many of them returned to ask me if they were doing it right. So I ended up showing them various ways I discovered to increase the amount of fluid expelled. Sure enough, all their voices started to deepen, or at least get a little husky. Tom was particularly keen to make sure he was doing it right. He asked me if I could sleep over at his house some time and we could practise doing it all night to get his voice as deep as mine.
Each afternoon after school, my grandma would be waiting to take me home. As she drove away, I saw Masher and A.H. looking at me, shaking their heads. I wondered why. Granny saw them and told me to stay away from them, as she didn’t “like the look of them.”
When we reached home, I always had to do all this homework stuff. Granny tried to help me, but in the end, she decided it was time for her to cook some dinner. Whilst we were eating, I asked Granny if I could sleep over at Tom’s place. I had a feeling it was a bad idea to tell her what we would be doing. Anyway, she thought I was too old for sleepovers, but she would talk to my parents.
In the morning, she drove me to school. Masher and A.H. and the other, smaller guy were always there as I got out of the car. I walked quickly past them into the school building. Tom was usually waiting for me inside. He asked me about sleeping over, but I had to tell him I didn’t think I’d be allowed.
For a new student, I was becoming very popular. The next day, however, the smaller of the three bullies from the second year walked up to me in the corridor outside my classroom, and looked me in the eye and said, “Fag.”
“Fag?” I asked with some concern. “What do you mean?”
I didn’t understand why he would say this to me. My voice was now quite deep.
“You like guys, don’t you?” He mumbled like he couldn’t open his mouth.
“Sure,” I said. “Doesn’t everyone?”
“What about girls?” he droned at me. It was then I noticed A.H. and Masher standing by the lockers, watching and laughing. I wondered what was wrong with them.
“What about girls? I don’t know anything about girls,” I said. “Perhaps one of the teachers could answer your question for you. They might know about girls.”
“Are you trying to be funny, fag?” he said, as his hands clenched the front of my shirt, and pulled our faces so close, I thought he was going to kiss me. I leant forward and our lips met.
His eyebrows did an emergency takeoff and landed in the middle of his forehead. The whites of his eyes were like two searchlights seeking an incoming threat. I felt the firm flesh of his warm lips pressing against mine. My tongue ran along his pouting lips, wetting them with my saliva. His pupils widened in shock, horrified; then narrowed with fear. He pulled his mouth away, as he dropped me like I was too hot to hold. He stood there for a moment, inclining his head with what seemed to be almost a touch of curiosity.
He then began spitting on the floor.
I stood up and said, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you ill.”
“Fag!” he screamed in between his spitting, in a voice that was now quite high and shrill. “Faggot! He really is a fag,” he yelled.
At least he was enunciating his words clearer. His screaming had me worried for him, though. He would have to get rid of a lot of fluid to get a deeper voice.
Several kids had started to gather around us, looking quite disturbed
“Is there a fight?” I heard one ask.
“Don’t think so,” answered another kid.
“The new guy just kissed Bruiser,” said a third boy.
Bruiser. At least I now knew his name.
‘Wow,” said yet another boy. “Who would have guessed Bruiser was one of them?”
He heard the comment between his hawking and spitting on the floor.
“I’m not a fag!“ he screamed in an octave even higher than before. “I’m not.”
It suddenly dawned on me that his voice had not broken. That was why he mumbled all the time. He was trying to fool his buddies from finding out he still had a boy’s voice. I had to help him. After all, it was sort of my fault he was spitting everywhere. And I knew from experience that spitting was not a good way to get rid of the fluid.
I walked over and said to him, “It’s lunchtime. Come with me and I’ll help you, Bruce.”
“Bruce!” he shrieked, “Bruce? My name is not Bruce,” he said. If his voice went any higher, he would shatter the windows.
“It’s Bruiser, my name is Bruiser. Just stay away from me.”
He spat once more, but this time he missed the floor and it landed on the top of the approaching principal’s shoe. Strangely, it reminded me of the fluid which one time had landed on my own shoes.
Bruce backed off, shaking all over, then turned and ran out of the building, the principal running after him. I hoped Bruce…I mean Bruiser…would be all right, but we never saw or heard from him again.
The same couldn’t be said for his friends. They started to follow me everywhere. I didn’t know why, but I felt very nervous.
The boys I had helped with their voices didn’t even talk to me now, except for Tom. Nothing seemed to scare him. I still felt like I had done something wrong.
A few days later, I passed Ian in the corridor. His jeans fitted his body so, so well. His arms were very muscular and sort of made his T-shirt look too small for him…or was his T-shirt so small it made his muscles look big? I’d have to give that some thought.
“Hi,” he said, “How’re you going?”
“Fine, thanks,” I said.
“Any troubles?” He asked.
“No, not really.”
“What do you mean, ’Not Really’?”
I didn’t mean to, but my gaze fell on Masher and A.H. as they walked past in the other direction. When I turned back to Ian, I knew he had seen me looking at them.
“Nothing,” I said. “It’s okay.”
“Yes, of course,” said Ian. “Nothing to worry about. Well, I’ll see you around.”
I watched Ian walk away towards the offices, and then I went to my class.
When I walked in, everyone stopped talking. This had been happening quite often. I had changed, at least in their eyes, I had. They knew I was feeling different. I knew it. I sat down, not knowing what else I could do. Only Tom smiled at me.
A couple of days passed before I realised that I had not seen Masher or A.H. following me. At lunchtime, I saw Ian walking across the cafeteria. When he saw me, he winked at me and then gave me a big grin. I smiled back to him and he seemed to grin even more. Even his lips seemed to have muscles.
After lunch, I headed out to the school yard, where I was going to meet Tom. As I got to the front door, I tripped over someone’s foot and fell down the steps, landing on my right knee. As I went to get up, a hand pushed my back and I fell down again. I cried out in pain as I heard someone say, “Hello, fag.”
As I looked up, I saw Masher and A.H. sneering over me with what I can only describe as a snarling hatred. What had I done to deserve this? I thought.
“Time to say goodbye, fag!”
“Just what I was thinking, boys.” I heard Ian say, as he grabbed them both by their collars and pulled them away from me.
Tom came running over and started to throw punches at Masher’s stomach, which was about as high as he could reach.
“Okay, Tom, I can take it from here,” said Ian.
“You two, to the office. Now!” shouted Ian to A.H. and Masher.
“Are you okay, Daryl?” Ian asked me.
I was trying to stand, but my knee was really hurting.
“Tom, can you get him to the nurse’s room while I take these two to the office?” said Ian.
“Yeah, sure,” said Tom, who looked like he was about to fly at Masher again.
Tom helped me hobble to the nurse’s room. It must have looked really strange, because in order for him to help me, I had to lean over the top of him so he could sort of drag me along the corridor. The nurse sat me down on the table and shooed Tom out the door. He didn’t want to go, but I nodded okay towards him, so he left. The nurse had obviously seen better days. She was about fifty and really old. Her uniform didn’t quite fit her anymore. The moment she opened her mouth, though, I knew she was really nice.
“How did this happen, dear?” she said.
“I tripped going down the steps,” I said.
“Tripped or pushed?” she asked.
Just then, her phone rang on the desk alongside the table.
“Hello, Nurse Cameron speaking. Yes, I see…. Yes, he’s with me now. Aha…that’s what I thought. Thanks, I will make out a report.” She hung up the phone.
“That was the school counsellor. It seems like you did trip, on Masher Kelly’s foot. Is that right?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied.
“Why do you think he tripped you?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t think he likes me. He called me a fag.”
“Do you know why he called you that?”
“No, I don’t, my voice is quite deep.”
She looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face, one eyebrow raised higher than the other.
“What has your voice being deep got to do with it?” she asked.
So I explained to her about the adult essence and how I needed to get rid of the fluid to get a deep voice so I would be told grownups’ secrets.
At that point, she excused herself and went out into the corridor. A few seconds later, I heard lots of laughter outside. After a little while, she returned, wiping her eyes as if she had been crying.
“Don’t be sad,” I told her, “I’ll be okay, it’s just my knee.”
“Yes, dear,” she said, now smiling at me. “I think I better have a little talk with you while I look at your injury.”
An hour later, I was waiting for my grandma to pick me up. Ian came over to me to see if I was all right.
“I am really sorry they hurt you, Daryl. They shouldn’t have done that,” he said. “I should have been there to stop them.”
“But you did stop them, Ian,” I said. “They were being really nasty, but you stopped them. Thank you.”
“Daryl, you don’t have to thank me.”
“What will happen to them?”
“Is that important to you, what happens to them?” he asked me.
“Of course. They need to be told to not do those things to other people.”
“I am sure they will be told that, Daryl,” Ian said. “Now, how are you feeling? Your knee looks like it’s swelling.”
“It is,” I said. “The nurse said I should rest it. My grandma should be here soon, to take me home.”
“Okay, well, if you’re all right, I best get to my class. See you around, champ.”
“Champ!” he called me Champ, I said to myself, as I watched him hurry to his class. He made me feel good just talking to him, just looking at him.
My knee gave a spasm of pain as I shifted my position on the wooden seat.
I wished my Granny would arrive. After what the nurse told me, I just wanted to get home and think. My mind was quite numb. She explained a few things my dad hadn’t quite got right. No wonder I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. I began to feel lucky my parents had managed to have me.
That night, Mum and Dad came home and told me they had received a phone call from the principal. My father said he’d have to find me another school.
“No!” I said, “I don’t want another school.”
“No?” said my grandma. “What do you mean, ‘No’? You cannot possibly want to stay in that barbaric place.”
“Well I do, and it isn’t barbaric,” I said. “If it was barbaric, I wouldn’t be here in one piece.”
“I like the teachers and I’m making friends for the first time in my life.” I couldn’t believe I said all that, and to my grandma too. But it was true, I did like going to WAH and I wanted to see Ian again.
“But after what happened today, you could have been badly hurt. As it is, you have a swollen knee that will keep you from playing sports,” said my mother.
“Yes,” I said, ”it could have been worse, but my friends, Tom and Ian, stopped it from being worse. What if they hadn’t been there? Other schools might have been worse.”
“The boy is right,” said my grandma.
“I’m not a boy. I’m an adolescent,” I said firmly, now that I had learned from the nurse that it was one word, not two.
“That’s true,” said Dad.
I toyed with the idea of telling him what sex was, but thought it might embarrass him. In any case, I couldn’t tell him in front of Granny, as it was obvious she wouldn’t know, and I didn’t want to cause one of her coughing fits. On the other hand, I began to realise, from what the nurse said, Granny probably did know. I did not want to think about that at all.
“I want to keep going to WAH,” I said.
“Well, if you’re sure,” said my dad.
“Yes, I am sure, and when my knee is better, I want to walk to school like all the other kids do.”
“You really are growing up, aren’t you?” said Mum.
“Yes, I am, and I’m going to have fun and do what all the other kids do.”
“There better not be any drugs involved, Daryl,” said my mum sternly.
“Mum, I am not stupid. I know not to do that.”
“Well, I guess that’s decided,” Dad said.
“Not quite. I want to phone my friend, Tom, and let him know I am okay and see if he would like to sleep over.”
Grandma and Mum started to open their mouths, but Dad winked at me as he said, “Yes, I think that would be a damned good idea!”
Tom was over in a flash with his sleeping bag and things. Huggles went straight to sleep on the sleeping bag. We did our homework together and then he showed me how to remove Net Granny from the computer. By morning, between the nurse’s little talk with me and what Tom and I saw on the Internet, we were truly changed men. Uh, well, adolescents, anyway.
I had realised that I was attracted to other boys. The nurse had told me it was not uncommon at my age to feel that way. She said I would probably end up with a girlfriend one day, although every time I thought about Ian, I felt it was unlikely. I wanted to be him and wanted him to be me. It was strange, but somehow made me feel all warm inside.
Masher and A.H. never worried me or anybody else for the rest of the year.
As the time approached for the senior year’s graduation ceremony, Tom and I were on our way to watch the ceremony in the auditorium, when I saw Ian walking alone. I wanted so much to tell him how much he meant to me.
Tom looked at Ian, and as if he read my mind, he said to me, “Wait here a moment, will you? I want to get something from my locker.”
Ian turned and saw me.
“Hello, Daryl. Are you coming to see me graduate?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I said. “Ian…?”
“I wanted you to know how I feel about you. I think…” and I started to feel nervous, as if I was going to cry.
“Hey, Daryl, I believe I know what you want to say,” he said, as he came closer to me.
“You do?” I asked.
“Yes, I reckon I do.”
He was still taller than me. He bent down until our faces were at the same height. We looked into each other’s eyes.
“I’ve seen the way you look at me. I understand. I like you too.”
“Daryl, of course, I like you. I want to tell you something too. It’s difficult for me, because I like you. You are going to be a very handsome young man. You care about others and your feelings are growing. It is all new to you, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” I said.
“That’s just it. I can’t do what I think we both want. You are still learning, still realising that you are someone. It was what I did at your age, and now I am discovering who I am.”
“Aren’t they the same thing?” I asked him.
“No, they are different. I wish I could explain it. I am not old enough to help you, and too old to give you what you need. You should find a friend to share your discoveries.”
“Can’t you be my friend?”
“I wish I could, but I can’t. I am going to college after graduation. I won’t be here to be your friend. That doesn’t mean I am not attracted to you. I am. If I were here, I would want to protect you, to love you.”
“You would love me?”
“Oh yes, Daryl, of course I would, and I’d very much want to make you happy, but we’re not ready.”
“I’d want to make you happy too.” I said.
“I know, but there is someone else who is very fond of you; far more suited than I am to making you happy.”
There was ever so slight moisture forming in his eyes as he stood up and straightened his shoulders.
“Look after Tom,” Ian said, with a quiver in his voice. “Look after each other, and that will make me happy; make us all happy.”
I watched him turn and walk away from me. His broad shoulders fell to become the rippled ridges of his tapering torso; his muscular arms, swinging at his sides, as his legs moved him towards the exit door leading to the auditorium. He raised an arm and waved, with justified certainty that I would still be watching.
He pushed the doors open and daylight streamed in, highlighting the outline of his silhouette, as he went to his graduation. For me, Ian had already graduated.
He was everything a boy could want to be, because he had everything a youth needed to become a man: a man to love; a man who could love.
He was right; I was still learning. I was still discovering I existed.
In an instant, I knew for the first time in my life, without any chance of me misinterpreting, I had truly understood somebody else.
What more could any boy want?
“Daryl?” said a voice, and I turned to see Tom. He seemed a little taller, and his voice had taken a lower tone.
“Tom.” I said.
“I have something for you,” Tom said. “I know this is a bit unusual and I know you like Ian, but I want us to be best friends too, so I have something I want to give you.”
He thrust an envelope into my hands in a way that told me if he didn’t do it then, he never would. His big brown eyes were wide with a hint of hesitation. I opened the envelope. It was a card, and in it he had written:
“Would you please be my Valentine’s Day Friend?
“Tom,” I said with newfound confidence, “it would be my pleasure…but only if you will be mine….”
“Cool,” said Tom.
“Yeah, cool,” I said. “You do know it isn’t Valentine’s Day though, don’t you?”
“Does that really matter?” he said, his smile as bright as the day.
I thought for only a moment.
“No, Tom, I don’t suppose it matters at all. It’s the thought that counts. Right?”
“Right,” he said, as we seized each other in a loving embrace on the steps of the school.
We rushed off to the auditorium and cheered loudly as Ian received his diploma.
Tom and I did become the best of friends. Our families became friends. We even went on a camping trip with our dads. We talked the Student Counsellor into persuading the school to allow us to form a Gay Student Association. When we were seventeen, we were made assistants to the Student Counsellor. We went to college and roomed together, until Tom dropped out to take up a job as an announcer in a radio station. He felt it was a chance he couldn’t refuse. I missed him, of course, but it was the right thing for him to do. Tom fell in love with a girl from another city, where he now lives with her and their two children. He insisted I be their godfather.
Tom still sends me a Valentine Day’s card each year.
Mum lost her job, which, I found out, was a fashion designer. So my parents sold our apartment and moved in with Grandma. Huggles went with them. Mum and Dad eventually realised I was gay, but we never told Grandma. We were afraid she might have a fatal coughing fit if she found out. They all attended my college graduation. I had taken a degree in Arts and pedagogy, and got a job as a sex education teacher at WAH; a job for which I feel well qualified.
As for Masher, Tom had found out that he lived in the bad end of a trailer park, when he wasn’t in jail for assaulting someone.
A.H. is working for an ambulance chasing lawyer, ready to sue anybody for anything.
A couple of years ago, I got an invitation to a live-show in the city. So off I went on my first vacation, and finally got to see a live production of “The Sound Of Music.” When the show was over, I went backstage to meet the cast. It turned out Bruiser had made a name for himself as a female impersonator, specialising in singing show tunes with his own voice, which had never broken. He had sung and played the part of the production’s Mother Superior.
He recognised me at once. His real name was Brian. I discovered later, he had been the one who sent me the invitation. He was so apologetic for what happened all those years ago in high school; he insisted on taking me to supper. I quickly reassured him I had no grudges. Brian was most charming. At my suggestion, he took up studying classical singing. He is now sought after for singing countertenor male soprano roles in baroque operas; though he still sings the show tunes for me.
You see, we fell in love and have been together ever since.
Granny thinks he’s adorable. She’s right.
And Ian? Well, I don’t know where Ian is or what happened to him.
I still think of him and I really want to see him, just to know how he is.
But then, a boy can’t have everything he wants, can he?