Of Boys and Feelings
Mikkei jumped off the bed excited. That would be his very first day at school! His parents didn't even have to wake him, he was ready before they were up; when his mom looked for him, he was sitting at the kichen counter eating his cereal.
"Morning mom!" He said with his mouth full, trying to smile and keep the food inside his mouth at the same time.
"Hi, honey... You're up already?"
"Yeah! I cant wait to go to school."
"That's great, sweetie." Thea said with a smile, followed by a yawn. "Sorry." Mikkei smiled again, then turned back to his breakfast. "So, everything's packd already?" The little boy nodded. "Good. I'm just gonna take a shower and then we can go, okay?"
"Don't take too long, mummy." He asked before taking the bowl to his lips in order to drink the little milk that was left. "I don't wanna be late."
"Don't worry, you won't, I promise." With a last smile, she turned around and went back upstairs.
Meanwhile, Mikkei put his bowl carefully in the sink, ran to his room to grab his bag and sat on the couch holding it tightly against his chest, without turning on the TV. Fifteen long minutes later, his mother was back, ready to go, and his father followed her still in his pajamas. "Hey, champ!"
"So, you're going to school, huh?" Mikkei nodded. "My boy's growing up... Come here, give me a hug before you go." The boy left his small backpack where he was sitting moments before and ran to his father's open arms. "You be a good boy there, okay?" Erik felt his son moving his head against his shoulder. "Have fun, tiger." He put the boy down, who ran to get his things and then grabbed Thea's hand, pulling her towards the door.
"C'mon mom, let's go!" The woman laughed easily and lightly kissed her husband's lips before heading to the car parked outside.
Soon enough, they arrived and Mikkei waved goodbye as he ran to the main doors. His mother waved back and as soon as he disappeared from her sight, she got back inside the car and drove away. As the boy entered the building, he found himself in the middle of a long hallway, and looked to both sides confused, unsure where to go. He didn't notice as a tall blonde woman approched him until she touched his shoulder, kneeling to make eye contact with him. "Do you need any help there?" The blond boy nodded vehemently. "I'm Miss Hauge. What's you name?"
"How old are you, Mikkei?"
"I'm seven. This is my first day at school."
The woman smiled, and so did he. "I see. Come with me, I'll show you your classroom, okay?" The boy nodded again and followed Miss Hauge's lead. One right and one left later, he was standing at the door, looking at the other kids that had already arrived. Two boys were playing with plastic swords, running around the room; three girls had dolls in their hands, but weren't talking to each other; one boy was sitting on a little couch on a corner, with two girls and a boy on the floor before him, he seemed to be reading them a story; and the last kid there was a brunet boy who was sitting at one of the little round tables drawing in his new copybook with his new pencil. "Go on, get in, Mikkei." The teacher was once again kneeling and smiling, but for some reason the blond who was just moments ago excited, now felt really shy. "It's okay. Your teacher will be here soon. Why don't you get to know your classmates until she does?" The boy looked at her with an unsure look and she nodded, encouraging him and lightly pushing him forward with the hand she had on his back. He took one last look at the room before taking a deep breath and joining the other kids.
He stood just a few steps in for a short while before looking back and not finding Miss Hauge there. Another deep breath in, he risked going further in, but nobody seemed to notice him. Mikkei decided to go over to where the boy drawing was, and did so silently, looking around at every step he took. Before he could reach the table, he had to duck from the boys playing pirates, who almost ran him over. "Watch out, fellow!" One of them said.
"Sorry there." The other boy turned aroud briefly with a smile before going back to his fight. Mkkei nodded weakly and moved on, finally reaching his goal and taking a seat beside the boy, who looked up as he did so.
"Hi." The blond said shyly. "I'm Mikkei, what's your name?"
"I'm Jonas." The boy answered in a low voice. None of them said anything for a while.
"Do you want to be my friend?" Mikkei asked, still starring at the drawing the other had not yet finished.
Jonas nodded. "Do you want to be mine?" The other boy nodded too.
"What are you drawing?"
"Ah, nothing, it's just... I'm not a very good drawer."
"Of course you are! That's the best dog I've ever seen." Mikkei said looking from the drawing to his brand new friend and back.
"It's a super hero." The boy mumbled quietly.
"Oh." He thought of it for a second. "It's still very good." He smiled, and Jonas smiled back. At that moment, a young woman came in and asked for everybody to take a seat.
"Hi, my name is Miss Ek, and I'll be your teacher this year. This is our toy room, and we're going to have our lessons on the other hall. But first, I want everybody to present themselves to the class." She smiled at the children, who looked at her interestedly. "Why don't you start, sweetie?"
"Uh, okay." She had pointed to the boy next to her, who Mikkei hadn't noticed had arrived. "My name is Fredrik." He was a chubby dark haired boy, with rosy cheeks and a round nose. He blushed as everybody looked at him, like almost all of them would.
"Why don't you tell us how old you are?"
"Uh, I'm eight."
"Very well. Now you." She pointed to the girl beside him.
"I'm Emma, and I'm seven." She had beautiful long orange hair and lots of freckles on her face with friendly green-ish eyes.
Soon it was Mikkei's turn, and he spoke in such a low voice that the teacher had to ask him to repeat. He had his silvery grey eyes at his hands on his lap as he did so. "I'm Mikkei and I'm seven too."
"That's better, Mikkei. Now you go." She was reffering to the boy next to him.
"Uh, I'm Jonas and I'm seven too." He exchanged a look with his new friend, and smile. His green eyes were somewhat embarrassed, but calmed down as they made contact with Mikkei's.
And so the twenty children there had their turn, and the teacher explained that that first day they wouldn't have any lessons because she wanted them to get to know each other better before. So they played games all day long, and the boys felt lke they'd known each other their whole lives. "Do you want to come to my place tomorrow? I have the coolest video game, you gotta try it." Jonas asked him as they all sat at the entrance stairs waiting for their parents to come pick them up.
"Uh, I gotta ask my mom."
"You think she'll let you?"
"I hope so!" Both of them smiled and looked into each other's eyes, suddenly feeling shy and looking away. "Oh, look, there's my mom. See you tomorrow, Jonas!"
"Tomorrow, Mikkei! Don't forget to ask your mom!"
"I won't!" He smiled and ran to the car were Thea was waiting, hopping in and slamming the door shut. "Hi mom!"
"Hi cutie, how was your first day at school?"
"It was the best! Hey, can I go to Jonas’s place tomorrow after school?"
"Hey, hey, wait! Who's Jonas and where does he live?" The woman turned around from the driver's seat for a moment to look at her son.
"Jonas is my new best friend. And I don't know where he lives. But he said he has the best video game, and I so wanna play it, mom! Please say I can go!"
"Do you at least have his number? So I can talk to his mother?"
"Uh, no, I forgot to ask." Mikkei was a bit disappointed. That probably meant he wouldn't go...
"I have to talk to your father first, okay? Then we'll see what we'll do."
"Okay, mom." The boy stayed quiet for a moment, thinking how he could convince his parents, before he began babbling about all the fun things he had done that day.
His father took a while to arrive, and he was already in bed; it'd been a long day for the seven-year-old. "Hey champ, how was your first day?" Erik asked as he sat on the edge of the bed, playing with his son's hair.
"Awesome, dad! It was so so cool!" Mikkei opened the biggest of the smiles, before yawning. "Sorry. I played a lot today, I'm a bit tired, dad."
"I'll bet you are, sunny boy. So, uh, listen, your mom said something about you going to a friend's house tomorrow, what's up with that?"
"Oh, my new best friend Jonas invited me. Can I go, please please please?"
"Mommy and I talked about it. We decided that one of us will come to pick you up and meet your friend's parents. Then we'll see what they have to say, is that okay?" The boy nodded. "Good. Now go to sleep, champ, you got a lot to do tomorrow." They smiled at each other. "Sweet dreams, Mikkei."
The next morning, the boy was up just as early, and was just as excited. Even though they didn't play as much, the thought of going to his friend's house later made the day pass in the blink of an eye. The two of them were waiting on the steps, and this time Jonas's mother beat Mikkei's. "Come on, Mikkei, let's go!" The brunet jumped and grabbed his friend's hand, pulling him.
"I gotta wait for my parents, Jonas!" The blond allowed himself to be pulled by his friend.
"Hey there! Ready to go?" Jonas's mother asked, standing beside her car.
"I have to wait for my mom and dad, Mrs., uh..."
Jonas leaned in and whispered in his ear, "Bjerg!"
"Mrs. Bjerg. They said they wanted to talk to you first."
The woman let out a short laugh, and then smiled at the boy. "It's okay, we can wait. And don't call me Mrs. Bjerg, I'm Emilie. And you are..."
"Mikkei. MIkkei Holt."
"Holt? Is your dad Erik Holt?"
"He's an engineer, is that right?"
"I think so." Mikkei said looking down.
"What is it, mom?" Jonas looked at her with inquiring eyes.
"I, hm, I know him, I mean, we, uh, went to school together... College even. Then we lost touch and - Erik! Over here!" She shouted at the sight of the man parked some meters behind her.
"Oh my God, no way! Emilie Bjerg! It's been forever I don't see you! How's everything?"
"Oh, things are great, what about you?"
"Just perfect! So you're the mother of Jonas, huh?"
"I guess it was fate, for our kids to become friends!" They laughed happily.
"So, where were you all these years?" He leaned against the car, and so did she. The two boys looked at them for a short while before they began playing catch on the lawn.
"Ah, you know, I've been around... Work took me to a lot of nice places, but I figured it was time to settle down if I wanted to have a family. And I thought there could be no place better to do so but home." She smiled.
"I know what you mean. My job was supposed to do the same, but instead it drove me back home. I guess it's a good thing after all, I get to be close to my parents, and so does MIkkei. I think it's important for him to have contact with his grandparents, you know?"
"Absolutely. Specially for Jonas, since I'm a single mom and all. My parents helped me a whole lot when he was younger, they still do. I'm really blessed to have such nice parents, you know?"
"Oh, your parents have always been great. I always adored them, you know that, don't you?"
"And they loved you too." There was a moment of silence when the two of them contemplated their children playing and thought about the past. Erik thought about the time he and his father had a major fight and he ran away, and how Emilie's family took him in for a few days before he worked things out at home. They didn't know, but she was thinking of the same episode.
"So, how does such a catch like you ended up single mom?"
She laughed. "I focused far too much in my work. And the few relationships I had didn't work out very well, so I figured I was better off. I was running out of time to have children, so I figured I'd use unconventional methods, if you know what I mean." They both giggled. "What about you? I see a ring on that finger, who's the lucky lady?"
"Oh, you have to meet her. Her name's Thea, I met her when I was in Germany, and we go there everytime we can so Mikkei get to spend some time with her parents as well. She's an amazing person, I think you two would be great friends."
"Really? I must meet her then. What do you say we go out to dinner tonight? So I can return your boy." She smiled.
"I'll talk to her, she works late today. But I'll try to persuade her, I'll give you a call."
"Do that. Here, my number." She handed him a card, and he put it away on his wallet. "I better let you get home now. I hope we can make it, we got a lot of catching up to do, you know."
"Absolutely. So I'll see you later one way or another."
"Okay." She turned to where the boys were playing. "C'mon boys, it's time to get going. See you, Erik!" He had already given a few steps back to his car and without stopping his walk, he turned and waved goodbye. "C'mon, both of you, in!" Once she was driving, she asked, "How was your day, boys?"
"Awesome!" Jonas said with a smile. "And it'll get better now that Mikkei will play Star Wars with me!" Emilie laughed easily.
"What about you, Mikkei?"
"My day was great too, Ms. Bjerg, uh, Emilie."
"That's great, boys." The two of them began whispering things on each other's ears and laughing, and Emilie decided not to intefere. Soon they were home, and instead of running straight to the TV room, they decided to play some football in the backyard. Around 5pm, Jonas's mother called them inside to have a snack, and while Mikkei finished his, she sent the other boy upstairs for a shower. "And you're next, Mikkei." She smiled, and he smiled back. "We're going out for dinner, your dad called and said they could make it. It's great, isn't it?" He nodded before drinking what was left of his milk. "So I want the two of you clean and beautiful. I'll lend you some of Jonas's clothes, is that okay?"
"Yes, ma'am." He smiled and stood up, put his glass on the plate and took both to the sink.
"Oh, you don't have to, oh, what a polite boy you are. Maybe my son can learn that from you, you know..." Mikkei giggled. "C'mon, let's go upstairs and see if Jonas is done so you can get in, shall we?" Emilie knocked at the bathroom door. "Are you done, sweetie?"
"I'll be right out, mom!"
"Okay, I'll leave your clothes on your bed." They went to the boy's room and Emilie picked a dark denim and a long sleeve shirt; it was chilly outside. "What do you want to wear, Mikkei?"
"Whatever you choose, Ms. Bjerg." The woman rolled her eyes with a smile as he called her Ms., but the boy didn't see.
"Here. How abou this? I love it, but Jonas doesn't like to wear it." She handed him a grey shirt, acable knit tank top and dark blue pants.
"Oh, it's very beautiful indeed, Ms. Bjerg."
"You know what, if you like it, you can have it. I couldn't get Jonas to wear it one single time."
"Thank you, ma'am." She also handed him underpants just as her son walked into the room with a towel around his waist.
"Okay, you go now, Mikkei."
Ten minutes later, the blond boy came out of the bathroom and joined his friend on the TV room where he played his video game. "Geez, you look fancy." Jonas said, taking his eyes off the screen for a moment as Mikkei entered.
"Your mom said you didn't like these clothes."
"So she said I could have them. Is that okay?"
Jonas shrugged, uninterested. "If she said so. I don't want it. Now stop talking and come help me here." The brunet smiled.
They played that game for about an hour and a half, until Emilie asked them to get ready because they'd be leaving in five minutes. Mikkei had just lost his game, so that Jonas was the only one playing. The level was almost over, and the boys were determined to finish it before leaving. A few moments after they heard the woman downstairs call them, grey eyes went slowly from the screen to the boy sitting on his right, and stayed there. Jonas noticed, and shifted his position slightly, somewhat bothered, but not completely, and kept his eyes on the screen. Without saying anything, Mikkei leaned in and left a soft kiss on the other boy's cheek, quickly pulling back and looking at the TV screen. As he felt the light touch, the brunet forgot completely about the game and froze for a moment. Before he could say anything though, they heard a voice calling them again, and the blond jumped up and ran downstairs.
Jonas stood on the couch for a moment longer, and slowly touched the place the other had with his lips. “Jonas! I’m gonna leave you here if you don’t come downstairs right now!” Emilie threatened. The boy shook his hand and, leaving both the TV and the video game on, he raced outside, reaching his mom and his friend as they entered the car. After a few minutes driving and no words spoken, she asked, looking at the boys through the rearview mirror, “Is everything okay with you two? You haven’t said a word so far.”
“Uh, we, uh...” Jonas mumbled, looking down at his hands.
“We’re a little tired, Ms. Bjerg.” Mikkei answered, looking from the boy beside him to the woman on the front seat.
“Yeah, that’s it, we’re tired mom.”
“I guess you are. I promise we won’t stay there late, okay? It’s a school night, after all.”
The three of them remained quiet the rest of the trip to the restaurant, and the three grown ups didn’t notice the boys didn’t exchange a word the whole meal. “Mom, I have to go to the bathroom.” Mikkei pulled his mother sleeve and whispered on her ear.
“Oh, uh, right now?” The boy nodded.
“Bathroom?” Emilie suggested with a solidary smile, and Thea agreed with her head. “I have an idea. Why doesn’t Jonas go with you, Mikkei? You’re both big boys now, you can use the lou by yourselves.” The boys looked at each other. “C’mon, now, we don’t want to keep Mikkei waiting, Jonas. Go ahead you two, and if you need anything we’ll come over. Go.” They stood up and the brunet followed the other quietly. A few moments later, the blond was washing his hands after relieving himself, and they were alone in the room.
“Jonas... can I ask you something?” The blond said shyly, focused on his task.
“Did... Did it bother you what I did? You know, at your place...”
“Uh, I, hm...”
“’Cuz you’re not talking to me anymore.” Mikkei grabbed a few paper sheets and began drying his hands. “If you didn’t like, we could just pretend it never happened, and I’ll never do that again.”
“I, hm, it’s okay, really... I just... It’s not... It’s just that... You know, I...” After throwing the papers on the trash can, the blond looked nervously at his friend. “I liked it.” Jonas whispered.
“Really?” The brunet nodded. “Oh. Okay.” Jonas reached out a hand and touched one of his fingers with his friend’s. Both of them smiled and kept looking into each other’s eyes, but their moment was broken when they heard somebody enter the bathroom.
“Boys? Is everything okay?” An older man was looking at them, for they just stood frozen in the middle of the bathroom.
“Uh, yeah, it’s fine. C’mon, Jonas, we better go or our mums will worry.” Mikkei made a gesture telling the other boy to follow him, not daring to hold his hand.
“That’s right boys, don’t you keep your mothers worried.” He smiled gently before closing himself in one of the stalls.
“No way! I can’t believe Erik would do such a thing!” Emilie laughed as the kids got to the table. “Not him. Oh, hey. Did everything go alright there?” Both boys nodded. “Good. So, um, Emilie, I think we better get going, they have to wake up early tomorrow.”
“For sure. So, are you boys ready?” They nodded. “Good. Let’s go then.”
“Oh boys, guess where Erik said he’d take you both on Saturday?” Thea asked as they walked out of the restaurant.
“Where dad? Where are you taking us?” Mikkei asked anxiously.
“What you guys think about going to the zoo?” Erik smiled.
“Yes!” Both kids said in unison, smiling broadly.
“I think they liked the idea, what do you think, Thea?” Emilie smiled at her friend.
“Yep, I guess they did.”
The day at the zoo was fun for all three guys. Erik couldn’t get enough of how much the boys were enjoying themselves, running and talking and pointing, laughing and making faces. He felt truly blessed for those children, and for being able to spend quality time with his son, something he missed deeply when he himself was their age. After a pic-nic on the grass and seeing a lot more animals, they had a quiet trip back, with Mikkei and Jonas sleeping on the backseat all the drive back. As they arrived at Jonas’s home, his mother had prepared them a delicious snack with chocolate cake, cookies and milk, and Erik joined them at the table.
“Mom, mom, can Mikkei sleep over?”
“Can I dad? Please?”
“What do you think, Erik?”
“You have to ask your mom, Mikkei. If she says so, you can stay.” He smiled at his son and handed him his cell phone. “There you go. Good luck!” He joked and both adults smiled.
“Mommy, mommy! Yeah, mom, I’m okay. Yes, we had a lot of fun at the zoo. Uh... We’re at Jonas’s place, his mom made us cake and cookies. Listen, mom, you think I could sleep here tonight? Please, please please? Really? Oh, great mom, I love you! Okay, bye.” He handed the device to his dad. “She said I can!”
“Cool! C’mon, let’s finish the game, Mikkei.” The boys ran upstairs to the TV room.
“Are you sure it won’t disturb you too much? I mean, I know how bad it is to have a boy at home, but two will be a lot more trouble.” Erik offered.
“After what you did today, I’ll have no problem taking care of them. Trust me, in a couple of hours, they’ll be out.” Both of them giggled.
“Good luck, then. I guess I’ll get going, Thea’s waiting for me at home. I’ll see you tomorrow then, when I come to pick him up.”
“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She led him to the door and waved goodbye until he disappeared on a turn.
As she prepared dinner, Emilie sent both boys to a nice warm shower, and just as she predicted, soon enough they were both in bed. She had put them both on the floor of TV room, warm and cozy, so they could finish the movie they were watching, and retired to her own bedroom, to finish the book she was reading hopefully in time to get the late night news.
On the other room, both boys were still awake when the movie ended, and they dived into darkness as Jonas turned the TV off. “G’night, Mikkei.” He whispered to the boy on his left.
“G’night.” The blond whispered back and they kept quiet for a while, until Mikkei broke the silence. “Jonas? Are you still awake?”
“Yeah, what is it?”
“Uh, I, hm, I...”
“Are you okay, Mikkei?” His tone was concerned, and he turned on his side, trying to see anything where the blond’s face should be. “Do you want me to get my mom?”
“No, I just... Hm, I...” Mikkei bit his lower lip before he whispered, “I’m afraid of the dark, Jonas.”
“Oh, there’s nothing to be afraid of, Mikkei. There’s nothing there, I promise.”
“Okay, I have an idea. Here, hold my hand and I’ll protect you from whatever you’re afraid of, okay?” He looked for his friend’s hand and found it searching his own after a short while.
“I promise. I’ll always be here to protect you. Now go to sleep, I’m right here.”
“Thanks, Jonas.” Mikkei whispered before closing his eyes.
The brunet just smiled, holding his friend’s hand tightly. Soon, both of them were fast asleep, and Emilie didn’t notice their hands under the blankets when she checked on them a few hours later, before going to sleep herself. When Mikkei woke up the next morning, he noticed his hand was still on Jonas’s, and smiled, being careful not to move and break the contact. Some time later, the other boy also woke up, and his lips too curled up at that. “Good morning, Mikkei.”
“Did you sleep okay?” The blond nodded. “Good. Are you hungry? I’m starving. Let’s go downstairs and see what’s there for breakfast, what do you think?” He sat up and meant to let go of the hand holding his, but fel the grip tighten.
“Wait! I...” Mikkei bit his lower lip and looked down.
Jonas smiled and left a quick kiss on his friend’s cheek. “I’m not going anywhere, I just need to eat something. I’ll bet you could use some food too.” Grey eyes met his, and both of them smiled. “Good. C’mon, I still want revenge for our soccer game the other day. I’ll win you, you’ll see.”
“No you won’t! I’m much better at that than you are. You can’t even beat me to the kitchen!”
“No.” Mikkei stood up and raced out of the room, being closely followed by the other boy.
“I see you got up full of energy today, huh?” Emilie commented as both of them rushed into the room and sat on the stools by the counter.
“I won! Ha. I told you you couldn’t win me.” Mikkei had a triumphant look, and the other boy smiled.
“Yeah. You won this tme, but I’ll be the winner on soccer, you’ll see.”