It had rained yesterday so the sky was filled with clouds, and it was a little darker than normal this morning. It was six am, and I was taking a walk with Nathaniel. The brown stray dog was following us, sticking close to Nath, and giving him excited looks. I smiled to myself, chuckling as we made it through the path to the clearing by the lake.
“We come here every day,” I said, moving closer to Nath as he shrugged at my statement. We stood next to each other in silence, listening to the frogs croaking, and the sound of the dog lapping at the water.
“It’s a habit,” Nathaniel suddenly said, making me blink before looking over at him with a curious gaze. “Coming here is a habit,” he clarified, fishing for something in his pocket. I watched him pull out a cigarette and a lighter, and soon he was taking a draw. I knew Nath smoked. He did it quite often, but it seemed to be connected to stress so I didn’t pry into his business much. I didn’t like the smell, and I wondered how anyone could tolerate having that so close to them — in their mouth for that matter.
Maybe it was one of those things Nath told me ‘I wouldn’t understand’ because of my upbringing. That didn’t make it any less senseless though.
“Enough about things, how are things on your end,” he said, turning to look at me. I hummed, looking away from him. A lot had happened really. Some people had been baptized, I got my first phone call of the year, so I could hear my sisters talk from the other end. I was soon smiling to myself and only snapped out of my thoughts when Nathaniel let out a low laugh.
“Having the time of your life?” he asked, and I just laughed in response, not knowing how to answer that.
He leaned closer to me, and soon his hand was holding on to my head and his lips had met mine. I moved my lips against his own and we were soon kissing each other deeply. His hand moved to tug at the end of my top, but I didn’t move. I was excited, hoping for more, but he soon pulled his hand away, and let it rest on my waist.
The water moved by slowly in the lake and the dog that had tagged along started whining. Nathaniel pulled away from the kiss, and we both stared at each other with small smiles until Nath eventually let me go and looked away. He walked to the other end of the cleared area, making me feel a bit sad at the created distance.
“You seem so carefree. Usually, at this point someone in your position would be panicking,” he said, chuckling a bit. “Aren’t you worried someone will find out, anyone?” he asked, turning back to look at me.
“I am worried,” I answered honestly, “but...” I trailed before letting out a low sigh. I bit my bottom lip nervously, wondering what to say. My mind was filled with jumbled thoughts I couldn’t quite put into words.
But what? I wondered to myself. I wasn’t sure of the future, and I didn’t want to think about it. With the way things were going now I might just finish my service and go home, and that would be the end of everything. I was sure even if that happened that Nathaniel would be on my mind. I wanted to be with him, but I wasn’t sure how to make that happen or whether Nathaniel himself would be okay with that.
And then again there was also my church, my friends, and my family. What happens then? I knew I wouldn’t just shrug my shoulders like Nath and carry on with my life. I might be aloof, but I wasn’t that strong-minded not to feel a sting if people abandoned me.
“What do you want me to do?” I ended up asking. It seemed like I shocked Nath because his eyes went wide, and he almost lost his grip on his cigarette. He looked away from me, putting his cigarette between his lips before letting out a stream of smoke.
“Do what you want,” he said, looking down at his shoes. A frown formed on his face like he was irritated, but I knew that wasn’t it. “It’s your life. Why are you asking me?”
You mean a lot to me, Nath. I said in my head, wanting to say it out loud but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I didn’t want to come off as too strong. I had asked Nath why he didn’t often ‘mess around’ with people in the closet and he went on a rant about them being too clingy and indecisive. He had given me a smile right after, telling me I obviously wasn’t like that, but it had made me a bit cautious. There were so many mistakes I could make. Just so many of them.
The areas went quiet and none of us said anything for a while. I stared at the blue-green waters of the artificial lake, humming to myself as I thought of what to do. Nath didn’t seem like he wanted to answer me, but I needed his answers. I had to know if he saw me the way I saw him.
“Hmm?” he replied, turning to face me. His frown had disappeared, and he had a dull unreadable look on his face now.
“What do you want me to do?” I repeated, and he just looked away from me. “I’m serious. I have something in mind, but it won’t be practical if you don’t feel the same way. So, what do you want me to do?” I asked again. It seemed like I had caught his attention this time because he turned to look at me. His dark eyes looked confused. He opened his mouth like he was about to say something, then he closed it shaking his head before looking away.
“I don’t want to scare you,” he simply said, and I just let out a sigh, looking up at the cloudy sky as I thought about what he said. “I don’t want to scare you.” His words bounced about in my head, but I would be damned if I knew what he meant even a little bit.
“My sister’s part of the church choir now,” I said, making Nathaniel turn to me with a confused look. “You said you wanted to know how things were at my end, didn’t you?” I asked, and he just smiled, nodding a bit. His hair was in cornrows today, and they looked nice on him, bringing out the shape of his face.
“So, that’s a big deal?” he asked.
“Well, yes. I thought you would know since you went to church as a kid.” I kicked a stone into the pond and I watched it fly across the air before landing with a loud ‘plop.’ The dog that had followed up stood up, barking at the water and making Nathaniel laugh.
“Catholics and Mormons are very different,” he simply said, and I shrugged. Thinking to the book I had borrowed from him.
“How different?” I asked, making him bite his bottom lip before moving closer to me. We were standing side by side now, and I had to look up at his face.
“For one thing Catholics believe in the Trinity and Mormons don’t,” Nath started. I could see he was interested in talking about this. Theology was something he really liked discussing and reading about. “Catholics believe in hell, and Mormon’s don’t,” he continued. “Mormons believe people can become Gods, and Catholics don’t. Should I go on?” he asked, chuckling as I shook my head and came out of my thoughts. This was becoming an expected outcome. Nathaniel started talking, and I just stared at him until he started laughing.
I watched as Nathaniel looked away, kicking a stone back into the lake. “Shouldn’t you be heading back soon?” he asked, making me open my mouth, letting out an oh as I raised my hand to look at my watch.
“I still have a few minutes,” I said, tucking my hands back into my pockets as he laughed again.
“You’re special,” he laughed. I watched him kick another rock into the water. The dog had moved to sit right beside his feet now. If I didn’t know any better, I would say the thing was in love with him.
“I like spending time with you,” I said out of the blue. Nath turned to me at that, giving me a small smile before looking away. The area went silent again and we just stood there, side by side watching the lake.
“I like spending time with you too.” I’m not sure why his words made me flustered, but they did. I looked up from the water to find him looking at me with a small smile. “You’re nice to be around.”
“Ah,” I simply muttered, running a hand through my hair as I looked down at my running shoes. I was wearing my usual jogging pants with a sweatshirt, and of course, Nath was in one of his tank tops and a pair of jeans.
“What?” I asked, looking back at him. His lips had turned down in a small frown. I watched him let out a sigh. He dropped his cig on the floor, crushing the burning end with his shoe.
“If I fall in love with you I’m sorry,” he simply said. I didn’t answer him. I just looked away. My face was red, and my heart was beating. This was what I wanted, and I had it, but why couldn’t I just tell him that was the case? Why was I just standing in my corner and not doing anything?
When the time came we walked back to the point where we usually met up and I left him behind, still not telling him how I felt about what he had said.
When I got back to the station I slipped into my room as quietly as possible. Sam hadn’t woken up yet, so I sat by my study desk and pulled out my journal and began to write my thoughts like I usually did.
Nathaniel apologized to me in advance.
He said he might fall in love with me.
I want that to happen.
Will I ever come out?
I want to be with Nathaniel, but should I be with Nathaniel?
A sigh left my lips when I looked down at those words.
I was a coward.
A selfish one at that.