I could hear the music booming from Henry’s house half a block away, the bass so deep that it made my seat vibrate. “Ugh, do I have to be the DD?” Connor groaned as we appraoched the house then parked the car. “I mean, Abbi’s out of town and I need at least a little something to distract me from all the people making out against the walls and grinding on each other and-”
“I can assure you that I’m doing much worse. Come on,” I snapped, cutting off his pointless whining. He looked at me, a flash of shock moving across his eyes and I instantly felt bad. It wasn’t his fault that I was forced to break up with my boyfriend nor was it his fault that he was hopelessly in love with his girlfriend, but the hole in my chest just above my heart was still raw and hearing him talk about his girlfriend who he could go back to was adding salt to my wound. Thankfully he didn’t press any further as we exited the car and headed toward the house, colorful lights leaking out of the windows that changed color with the beat. I was already getting drunk off the air.
As soon as I opened the door, drunken cheers filled the air and I received multiple claps on the back. It’d been a while since I’d last been to a party. People instantly started bombarding me with questions and requests for drinking games, which I gave basic nonchalant answers to before I allowed myself to be led to the bar which was filled with multiple drinks and snacks. I poured myself a couple drinks, feeling the tension slowly start leaving my body as the memories of the day began blurring and burying themselves deeper and deeper within my mind until I could barely remember my own name. “Come on, Noah,” Harvey drunkenly said as he messily looped his arm with mine. “I’ve got some *burp* amazing drinking games I think you’ll *burp* dominate in.”
“Lead the way,” I slurred as I stumbled with him toward the main room where people were dancing, making out, and drinking.
“Alright, so you play the game by...” The night flew by as I played game after game, took shot after shot, made bad decision after bad decision. But at least I couldn’t remember why I needed to get so drunk, so I guess that’s a plus.
After forty-five minutes or so of drinking games, I was so drunk that I could barely stand up straight. “And then my Nona got her cane and threw it at the bird so that it would let the little unicorns go free in their magical field of potatoes,” I drunkenly slurred to Connor, causing him to laugh and shake his head.
“I don’t think that’s how French fries are made, dude. I think it’s time to cut you off.” He grabbed my drunk and placed it on the table out of my reach.
“Hey, that’s mi-” I started as I made an attempt to get my cup back, but couldn’t finish my sentence due to me tripping and nearly busting my head open against the wall.
“Woah man. I’m definitely cutting you off. Come on, you need to get yourself together,” Connor said before he effortlessly slung my arms over his shoulders and started leading me up the stairs, only offering a few grunts.
“Am I heavy? Am I a heavy, big boy?” I slurred before I started uncontrollably laughing. I’m funny. I’m a funny, big boy. Boy. I had a boy. His name was Madison. But his butthead of a dad broke us up. I frowned. He was a big boy too. A funny, super hot, big boy and I missed him a lot. I needed more alcohol.
“Connor, I need more alcohol. I still remember him,” I groaned as Connor led me into a bedroom and threw me on the bed, causing me to groan as I slipped onto the hardwood floor.
He cursed before he hurriedly picked me up and put me back on the bed. “Sorry about that bro. But that was kind of hilarious.”
“Shut up before I throw my Nona’s cane at you and make you dance with the unicorns and potatoes. Now get me some more booooozzzzeeeee.”
“Noah, I’m worried about you. What’s going on? Who are you trying to forget?”
The semi-logical side of my drunk mind wanted to brush it off and keep crying for more booze, but the nonsense, totally drunk side of my brain was more powerful, so I found myself rolling on my stomach and kicking my legs like a girl at a sleepover getting ready to spill the tea on her crush. “You see, my sweet Con-Con-”
“-don’t call me that-”
“I’ve been hiding a huge secret that I didn’t want to tell anyone until I was ready, but now that my boss is blackmailing me into doing what he wants and I feel like he might tell anyway, I might as well tell my best friend before you hear it from someone else and think differently of me, you know?”
“Noah, what are you talking about?” Connor asked as he sat next to me with a raised eyebrow. “You’re starting to scare me a bit.”
“I have a confession,” I announced as I quickly sat up so I was sitting like him, my head spinning for a second causing me to chuckle before I remembered what I was doing. “So, remember when you asked me if I’d found someone yet? Well I have. But here’s the kicker: I’m kinda of sort of extremely gay and my ‘someone’ is a boy and his name is Madison and I really love him a lot. He’s also really hot.” At that point word vomit was spilling from my lips, but even in my drunken state, I felt a weight lift itself from my chest. It felt good so I kept going. “He’s my boyfriend...or at least he was until his stupid homophobic dad made us break up, but he made me break up with Madison so that it’d look like I’m the one who wanted to end things though that’s the last thing I’d want and-”
“Wait, hold up Noah. So you’re telling me that you’re gay and that you have a boyfriend?” Connor asked as he knit his eyebrows together in confusion.
"Had a boyfriend,” I corrected. “But I’m planning on getting him back so I can kiss him all the time.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“A couple weeks. It all happened pretty fast to be honest with you.”
“Who else knows?”
“Other than you? Mr. Hill. I kinda went to him for advice after the break up happened. He has a really nice house and his husband likes to work out like Madison and-”
“Wait, wait, wait. So you’re telling me that your teacher knew you were gay before I did? Man that’s a low blow.”
“Well to be fair he is my favorite teacher,” I defended with a shrug, causing him to chuckle and punch my shoulder.
“You’re too drunk of you think that’s a valid excuse,” he said with a ghost of a laugh as he stood up. “I’m getting you some water.”
As he was making his way to the door I called out to him. “Wait!” He turned and raised an eyebrow. “So you’re like...not weirded out or angry or whatever? I mean I literally just told you that I like dudes and you’re not freaking out like I expected you to.”
“Of course I’m not, I just...” he trailed then shook his head at himself. “I want to finish this conversation with sober Noah. Now let me go get you some water.” Before I could say anything else, he slid out the room and closed the door behind him.
Well I was definitely too drunk to be sure, but that definitely went better than I thought it would.
I awoke to the annoying sound of my alarm telling me it was time for me to wake up and start getting ready for school. As soon as the bright light of my phone screen made its way into my eyes, a supernova of pain ripped through my skull along with splotches of memories from last night that made me literally want to face palm. And that raised the question of how did I end up in my own bed in my own house? The last thing I remembered was Connor giving me some water then everything after that is a colossal blur.
As if on cue, I heard a deep snore from my right causing me to jump and direct my phone’s bright light toward the direction of the sound where I saw Connor shirtless sprawled out on my chair. I instantly cringed as last night’s conversation filled my ears. I must say, not the ideal way to come out as gay.
Desperate to avoid waking him up and having that conversation, I quietly threw the covers off of myself, grabbed a handful of clothes, including the clothes Madison gave me yesterday, and headed to the bathroom in order to brush my teeth and shower.
As I showered and let the water cascade over me, my mind began to wonder at it tended to do when I was showering and I began remembering everything Madison and I had done together in our short time knowing each other. All our kisses. Madison’s extremely inappropriate flirting. Our laughter. The way our bodies perfectly fit together when we laid together and watched Netflix. It took me a moment to realize I was crying, but when I realized I quickly wiped the tears away. Crying wouldn’t change anything. I knew that all too well.
I sighed and looked up at the ceiling. “Hi mom. Hey dad,” I softly said. It’d been a while since I’d last spoken out loud to them. ”Ho bisogno di aiuto. Amo questo ragazzo e l’ho ferito. Cosa faccio? sono così spaventato (I need help. I love this guy and I hurt him. What do I do? I’m so scared).” By the time I was done my voice was no more than a hoarse whisper and tears were streaming down my face once more. I let out quiet sobs but I had to stop myself or else I’d never leave this bathroom. So instead I shut off the water and hurriedly got out and dried myself off before I put on lotion and deodorant before I finally put on Madison’s clothes. They calmed me and made me feel like his strong tattooed arms were around me. I blinked back the tears and opened the door, being extra quiet not wanting to wake up my Nona. My head was throbbing but I barely felt it because this definitely wasn’t my first rodeo when it came to going to school hungover.
I quietly opened my door, prepared to grab my backpack and tell Connor it’s time to get ready for school, but when I opened my door, the lights were on and Connor was laying across my bed feverishly typing on his phone. He was dressed in completely different clothes he’d gotten from the “Connor” section of my dresser (are you really even best friends if you don’t have sections in your dresser for each other?), leading me to believe that he’d showered last night while I was knocked out. When he saw me he offered me a nod. “Morning.”
“Morning,” I said, slightly caught off guard. He sounded normal. Not freaked out or like he was walking on eggshells around me and it was honestly relieving.
“You’re so lucky I’m good at sneaking people in and out of places because you’re Nona definitely would’ve caught us if you were alone,” he said sitting up and sliding his phone into his pocket. “I mean you kept spewing random things in English and Italian and you kept talking about how your Nona throwing her cane helps make French fries and it was just so weird man.” By the end we were both laughing.
I shook my head. “Ah, Drunk Noah. The life of every party and the light of everyone’s lives.”
“That’s debatable,” Connor countered as he picked up his backpack that I hadn’t realized he brought and stood up from my bed and stretched. I guess he’d planned on spending the night from the jump. “Come on, Noah. We’re going to get some breakfast and coffee. Today’s gonna be a long day for you, my drunk friend,” he said clapping me on the shoulder before he slid out of my room. I grabbed my phone, backpack, and keys before I too exited my room, popping in on my Nona to give her a goodbye kiss before I met Connor in his car. It was a bit chilly out but Madison’s sweatshirt was thick enough to keep me warm.
As soon as I plopped down in my seat, Connor pulled off. We rode in a comfortable silence for the first few blocks. I looked at the clock. I had forty-five minutes until school started. I took a deep breath. I needed to talk with him about him. Plus, if things go horribly south, I could always jump out of the car and walk back home.
I turned toward Connor who was focused on the road. “We need to talk about last night,” I said.
“We don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Connor said.
“Yeah, but I want to. I need to or I just might explode. Please.”
Connor merely nodded before he turned on his turn signal and slowly pulled over to the side of the road, causing my eyebrows to knit together. “Con, what are you-”
“This situation is clearly serious if it had you so bent out of shape last night,” he said as he pulled his keys out of the ignition, “so I want to give you my undivided attention.”
I couldn’t help but grin. That’s why he’s my best friend. “Alright, let’s try this again,” I said as I took a deep breath then slowly let it out before I looked Connor in the eyes. “I’m gay.”
He nodded before he unbuckled his seatbelt opened the door and walked out of the car. Confusion and fear instantly washed over me when his door didn’t open after a few seconds. I was about to open my door and make a run for it, when my door suddenly opened and Connor’s arms were around me in a massive hug. “I’m happy for you, bud,” he into my shoulder before he straightened up so he was looking me in the eyes. “Needless to say I one-hundred percent support you and am happy you told me, though I’m still kinda mad you told Mr. Hill before me, but I guess I’ll let it slide.” I chuckled as he went back to his side of the car and rebuckled his seatbelt. And before he could say another word, I told him everything about Madison from his looks to his smile to the way he makes me feel and even how much I loved him, and all the while Connor didn’t look uncomfortable or disgusted in the slightest bit.
“...and it just sucks because I love him so much, you know? I just hate that I couldn’t stand up to his dad and...” I trailed, tears welling in my eyes like they did every time I thought about how I’d let Madison down. “I let him down, Connor. He was there for me at my lowest. He helped me figure out who I am. What I want. And I repay him by breaking his heart. I hate myself for it.”
“No, Noah. You can’t beat yourself up like that. It’s not fair to you,” Connor said as he reached over the middle console and hugged me. “I’ll help you figure everything out, okay?” I responded by crying harder.
I felt like crap. But it was an amazing feeling to know you had a friend to go through crap with you.