Chapter 20 – We can’t be friends
Saturday, December 24th, 2016
Calo pulled back shocked after several seconds, staring at me with the widest eyes I’ve ever seen. His face is a bit pale, but I can’t remember if the paleness was already there or is caused by me kissing him.
I kissed Calo. And at that realization my eyes widen too.
“I’m sorry... I didn’t w-want t-t-to ma... make you uncomfortable...” I stutter, as I think that is exactly what I did. I freak him out like the freak I am.
“What, no! I’m not... I am a bit... I don’t... Neo? Are you gay?” He whispers the last part right before he stops us from floating further, pulling us to the side of a small pool of water.
“I’m not sure... I never even had feelings for anyone before. I don’t even know if I feel this way because we’re friends, or because I like you.” I admit timidly, getting off the tube myself. “I never had a friend before, I never had feelings before. So I really don’t know the difference.”
“But you felt the need to kiss me.”
I nod quickly, realizing that’s probably a sign I like him more then just a friend. I never kissed Angela, right? I don’t feel the need to kiss Seino, or Prayaav. They’re friends.
But I wanted to kiss Calo. “It made me feel giddy... does that mean I like you?” I mutter, staring down towards the tube, holding it with my hands as Calo is standing in the middle of one of the holes.
He lightly grabs hold of my chin, pushing it upwards. He stares straight into my eyes shortly, and I subconsciously lean in a bit. He then meets me in the middle, initiating another kiss, which he deepens almost instantly.
And I’m done. This is it. This is the best feeling I’ve ever had in my whole life. It’s the warmth that’s radiation from his skin onto mine, it’s the burning sensational marks his touches leave on my skin. It’s the zoo in my stomach, the jolts of excitement. It’s everything all at once, and for once there’s not one single negative thought in my mind.
We separate with mutual initiation, both panting for air as we stare at each other.
“I like you.” I tell him before I smirk. “That was the best...”
“You know it’s wrong, right?” His eyes turn cold and he let’s go of me, suddenly all distant. “You should fight these feelings like I do.”
“What?” This time my eyes widen in disbelief. “It’s not wrong, Cay! I told you before...”
“It is, and neither of us should give in to this.”
“Shut up.” I grumble annoyed. “You’re wrong and I’m not going to fight the best feeling I’ve ever had. Because I’ve never even felt remotely close to good, and this was so much better then just good. I’m done feeling ‘okay’. I’m done feeling mediocre. For once, I want to do what I want.”
“But I don’t. It feels wrong.”
“It feels wrong to like me?” I whisper in shock, and it feels as if my heart breaks as he nods with the same cold look still in his eyes. “You don’t want to like me...”
“Okay...” I nod, fighting back tears, stepping away from him. “Fine... but then we can’t be friends anymore.”
“We could still be friends -,”
“No,” I shake my head firmly. “I can’t be friends with someone who says being gay is wrong, while he’s the whole reason I realize I might be gay. That means you think I’m wrong too. You don’t accept me the way I am.” My voice is cracking, nearing a point of breaking. I’m still capable of keeping in the pain and sadness. But I don’t know how long I can stay that strong. So, I turn around and leave, descending the slide as fast as possible without a tube.
“Neo! Wait! That’s not what I meant...”
I ignore him, mostly because he doesn’t sound like he just changed his mind. And I can’t let him hurt me like that. I’ve had enough pain and grief to deal with, without him breaking my heart.
I hurriedly make my way to our stuff, grab mine and speed walk towards the changing rooms. I don’t know if Calo tried to follow me, but frankly I don’t care. Neither do I care about what Seino, Prayaav or anyone else thinks.
I need to get the hell outside.
And as soon as I did, I hide from plain view and call mom.
“Mom? Can you pick me up?”
Great, we’re back at square one.
Sunday, December 25th, 2016
“I’m not sure if we should go, Perry,” mom tells dad sadly, while I’m curled up in bed, the comforter pulled over my head, still crying my eyes out every so often. “Neo isn’t doing well enough.”
“You know he always feels better when we visit my parents,” is dad’s simple response. “You just want to get out of it because Chantal will be there with Ferdi and the kids.”
“That’s not true.”
“It is true. You’ve been coming up with reason not to have dinner with my parents for weeks now.”
I throw the comforter off, staring at them with anger in my eyes. I must look terrible, but at least that’ll shut them up. “We are going, now shut the hell up and let me be for another half an hour.” I pull the comforter back over my head, realizing I just told my parents to shut the hell up.
But then again, why are they even in my room, bickering over family feuds mom keeps up, while aunt Chantel tried to fix things?
I’m sick and tired of everyone bickering over my habits, I’m sick and tired of people telling that I do things wrong, that I’m faulty, or a freak, or that being gay is wrong. I don’t even care whether or not I’m actually gay – I know I like Calo a lot – but that’s not the point.
I want to live my life the way I feel comfortable with. With or without my habits, with or without having feelings that half the world thinks are wrong.
And I’m done feeling shitty because I’m different. I don’t want anyone to tell me how to behave, who to like, what to think.
I just want to be me, along with all my flaws.
And that’s when I push the comforter off a second time, ready to face another day, and the rest of my life; the way I want to face it.
I shower, I ignore the itch to tap the light button. If people think they can control me, they’re so wrong.
Once I’m back from the shower, I notice Pyper left me two outfits on the bed to pick from, but I ignore them and grab black skinny jeans and a flannel shirt with a white t-shirt to wear, ignoring the rest of the clothes.
Today, I’m taking control over my life, and I don’t care what others think of it.
It results in a pulled-up eyebrow from Pyper as I show my face in the kitchen. The fact I did not skip into the kitchen causes mom to stare at me in worry. Dad sort of tries to ignore it.
“Looks good, Nee.” Pyper tells me with a smile.
“Thanks.” I shrug, sitting down in my spot in the kitchen. “I don’t want to hear one word about my behaviour, or my ticks, or any of it, when we’re at grandma’s and grandpa’s house. I don’t want anyone fighting over my behaviour.”
Mom takes in a deep breath and nods, while dad smiles proudly at me
“Only Milan, Mass and Mateo will be there.” Pyper tells me. “Leo and Romeo are visiting their girlfriends parents.”
I shrug again, not caring in the least that they won’t be there. I don’t really have anything with Leo or Romeo anyway, as there’s too big of an age gap.
I do, however, like the fact I finally will see Milan and Mass again. I remember both of them always adjusting to me, trying to make me feel like I belonged. I also remember Milan is the kindest guy I’ve ever met.
He’s everybody’s friend and I guess it’s safe to say, he would be my friend too, if we would see each other more often.
For the rest of the afternoon we focus on fixing the desserts, since my aunt and uncle take care of the first course and grandma and grandpa the main course.
I try to get some homework done in the meantime, and I ignore all texts Calo sent me in the meantime.
He keeps texting me, begging to listen to him, but I refuse. I don’t want him to talk me down right now. I don’t want to hear his opinion about it being wrong to be gay. How could anything be wrong if it makes me happy and it isn’t hurting anyone else?
Besides, he already ruined Christmas eve and Christmas morning for me. I’m not letting him ruin the rest of Christmas.
I’m grew a bit nervous after we left the house, and I switched my bedroom light off without using my regular beat.
I then remembered Dr. Delgado’s words, and the fact we’re not home, and insurances would take care of things if a fire might happen.
And we all would get to buy some new clothes, stuff, refurnish our new house. It’s futile to think these things, but they help me in some way.
And as soon as we’re at my grandparents’ house, it’s evident, we’re the last to arrive. There’s three cars in front of the house that I haven’t seen before.
Mom rings the doorbell and shortly looks at me, before she puts on a forced smile, because it is uncle Ferdi who opened the door.
He greets us with a wide smile, a hug and kisses for mom and some sort of brotherly hug for dad. Pyper also gets kisses on her cheek and then it’s my turn, and he offers me a hand.
“I don’t shake hands…” I mutter, dipping my head low while brushing past him into the house. “Sor…” I’m not going to apologize. I’m unwilling to apologize because I do things differently.
If I should apologize for being different to them, they should apologize for being different to me. Who decides what normal is anyway?
“That’s okay, Neo.” Uncle Ferdi smiles as he closed the door behind me. “No need to apologize. Good you stopped yourself from doing so.” He winks and I can’t help but show a small smile of gratitude, since he at least agrees to me that I shouldn’t apologize for being different.
“Pyps!” A boy’s voice calls out cheerfully. And as soon as I followed her into the living room – mom and dad putting desert in the fridge – I see Milan jumping up from the couch to greet Pyper. But then he sees me and his eyes light up, a cheeky smile appearing on his face. “And Neenee.”
I roll my eyes at the use of my former nickname. “Mimi, always fun to see you.” I greet him, flashing a smirk of my own.
He hugs Pyper, kisses her on both cheeks, before turning to me and waving. “How are you guys doing?”
“Good.” Pyper nods, sitting down next to Mass, after hugging him too.
Mateo, a girl I haven’t seen before, and grandma are seated at the dinner table already, while grandpa got up to greet me with a shake of the hand.
“Neo, I heard you made some beautiful new pictures. Did you bring them?”
“Yeah!” I nod excitedly, taking the backpack from my back to retrieve the folder with the new pictures. “Right here, as always.”
“Go greet you grandma, wash your hands and tell me what they are about.” He pats my cheek trice, and I do as he tells me, receiving two pecks on my cheek from grandma, before I hurriedly wash my face and hands, returning to the living room, feeling all energetic again.
“You took these?” Milan holds up the folder, showing pictures of people skating in the park.
“Yeah, during summer. Why?”
“These are awesome!” He pats the page. “Can you ski?”
“Can I ski? No?” I chuckle, sitting in between Milan and grandpa, taking the folder onto my lap. “Why would you ask?”
“Jake is always videotaping me during skiing. But even though he is awesome with videos, he sucks at taking pictures. I thought maybe you could join us sometime, take some pictures?”
“I can’t ski.” I repeat but smile nonetheless.
“We wanted a new family picture, Neo.” Aunt Chantal is now in the living room, accompanied by mom, who seems to disagree with the subject right now. “Could you help us out?”
“Off course.” I nod, not caring if mom disagrees to it. “I’ll see when I have some time and when you can all get together.”
“Neo, we talked about it. You don’t have the time…”
“I’ll make time.” I cut my mom short. “I’m not a baby anymore. I’ll be fine.”
She bites her lip, obviously wanting to protest, but knowing me well enough to know right now I won’t accept her forbidding me to do anything.
“And the skiing?” Milan taps the page again. “It would be awesome. You would get to meet my best friend Jake and I could teach you some basics.”
I look at him while overthinking the option, trying to find a reason why I wouldn’t take him up on his offer. “Sure. We could do that.”
It’s only because Milan is super talented in skiing and soccer, and highly intelligent, already accepted into Stuyvesant university – which is the best in the country – that I accept his offer. If he can’t teach me how to ski, I don’t think anyone can.
“So, how are things with your OCD?” Milan asks casually, as we watch how Mateo, Mass, Pyper, Milan’s girlfriend Cara and Mateo’s girlfriend Kim are playing soccer on the grass close to grandpa’s and grandma’s house.
“Some days are good, some are bad.”
“Today I’m mostly angry, upset, and uncaring about it.” I admit with a shaky breath following my words. “Mil? Can I ask you a question?”
“Do you think homosexuality is wrong?”
He snaps his head towards me, his eyes wider than usual, his face slowly going red. “Why do you ask?”
“Because I like this guy… and he thinks it’s wrong, though he says he likes me too. But he’s fighting the feelings and he kind of broke my heart…” I drawl, whispering now. “I don’t even know why I’m telling you. We haven’t seen each other in so long.”
“Maybe it feels safe because I can’t tell anyone else?” he responds with a shrug, sighing in relief over something. “So, you’re gay?”
“I might, I don’t know. I never had feelings for anyone so I’m a bit confused. But when we kissed, I was complete. I was happier then ever…”
“Obviously you really like him. But that’s okay, right? I don’t think it’s wrong. It’s just a person, loving another person.”
I smile timidly, nodding along with him, happy I have someone who agrees with me. “Don’t tell anyone, okay? I’m not sure, and I want to be absolutely sure…”
“I get it.” Milan nods, his smile vanishing. “See Cara?” He nods in her direction as she just scored a goal with soccer. Milan wasn’t allowed to play because he’s too good – he scored three goals in three minutes – and I didn’t want to play because I hate getting sweaty and dirty.
“Yeah, your girlfriend, right?”
“She’s bisexual. And I’m not really into her,” he whispers with a shaky voice. “She knows I’m not, but she’s not into me that way either. She likes this girl, and I like this guy, and we keep up appearance until we’re sure we are in fact gay.”
“Oh, wow.” I frown, taking in Milan en profile as he is following Cara with his eyes. “So, you think you’re gay too?”
“Yeah. But this will be our secret, okay? I’m on the same page as you are. I want to be absolutely sure before I come out to anyone.”
“I won’t tell anyone, if you won’t tell anyone either.”
“I guess we have ourselves a deal, mister Favre.”
“Cool, Mr. Lohmann.” I chuckle, genuinely smiling because of him and his goofy attitude. “And you are so definitely going to teach me how to ski. I want to do something that is so unlike me, it’ll shock the world.”
“I’m kind of busy this month, HellerStern is organizing all these photoshoots with clothes and I have practice, but in February you should come over and we’ll make it a fun weekend.”
“Sounds good to me.”
And right before we leave to go home, Milan and I exchange our phone numbers, promising to stay in contact from now on.