“Are you sure no one will go around looking for you?” Nath asked me as he made a turn. I nodded, looking away from him to stare at the road ahead. Early in the evening he had come up to the side of my window, surprising me. It took a while, but he climbed up and helped me set things before helping me down. My chest was still swelling from adrenaline and the stupid smile on my face had refused to leave.
We were in a truck-like car with no back seat. Music was playing on the radio and I looked out the window to watch the scenery pass by. The roads were lifeless — empty for the most part. We’ve been on the road for at least three hours now, and it was starting to get dark.
“Are we heading straight for your friend’s place?” I asked, turning to face Nathaniel. His hair was in a low puff today, and he was wearing a proper shirt and a jacket instead of a tank top. He looked like he was dressed up for something, but I couldn’t tell what.
“No, we’re stopping at a local bar first,” he said, making me raise a brow at him. He looked at me before turning back to the road. “I’m not going to make you drink alcohol if that’s what you’re thinking,” he said, and I just hummed.
“I just want you to loosen up a bit. Have fun.” I didn’t have a reply to that. I wanted to spend time with Nath. That was fun to me, not hanging around in a bar with other people. I clenched and unclenched my fist, trying to calm myself. I didn’t want to ruin everything by being moody, so I just decided to trust Nath.
After some time, Nath pulled out of the road and drove into a small clearing by a low building. I looked out of the window, staring at the place that looked dead. Were people even inside? Nath soon unlocked the doors and climbed down. He turned to me, motioning for me to get down too before closing his door. I hesitated, but after a while, I climbed down from the car and closed the door behind.
Nath had already started heading for the building, so I had to do a little jog to catch up to him.
As I walked into the building the music hit me. I felt a bit sick and nauseous. It was dark, but the flashing colorful lights were playing with my vision, and the crowded and noisy area didn’t help things at all. I just stood there, not knowing what to do before Nath waded through the crowd and grabbed my hand. He pulled me through the sea of people until we got to an open space around tables. He held on to both my shoulders, helping me into a seat before he took the one beside me.
“Are you okay?” His tone was worried. I felt bad for making him worry.
“I feel fine,” I answered as my heart rate went down. I was still squinting at the lights, but my ears were getting used to the noise. “This place is rowdy.”
“It always is,” Nath said in an offhand comment. I turned to look at him. He was smiling at me, and his brown eyes were giving me a look I really couldn’t read. I looked away because of the intensity of his gaze.
“How come they didn’t ask for any ID? We just walked in,” I said, turning back to him. Nath sighed, covering his face with his hand.
“Do you want anything? Water, juice—”
“They don’t care about that here,” he said, waving his hand. “Plus, what are you afraid of, you’re eighteen aren’t you?” he asked, and I nodded. My eyes moved away from him to look into the crowd. They went wide in shock when I realized that it was just men. Men, men, and lots of men. A lump formed in my throat as I watched a pair exchange a kiss on the lips, my hand formed a fist on my lap as I turned back to Nathaniel with a panicked expression on my face.
“Hmm?” he asked, looking up from his phone.
“What kind of bar is this?” I asked, watching as he sighed.
“It’s a gay bar, why are you asking?” The blood drained from my face, and I stared down at my lap, not knowing what to say.
“Look, no one knows who you are. They didn’t even ask for your ID. Have fun, okay?” he said reaching out to hold my hands. I pulled it away, refusing to give him a reply. I was still shocked, and wary. A gay bar. I thought to myself, looking up from my lap to look around the room. Men dancing together, kissing, and casually holding hands. A gay bar.
What was I doing here?
“Do you want to dance?”
“No.” My answer was firmed, laced with — fear? I don’t know. All I knew was that I didn’t want to be out there with the crowd. Part of the crowd.
“Suit yourself,” Nathaniel said as he stood up. I looked over at him, watching as he got up and walked away from the table and into the crowd. I didn’t know how to feel, so I just watched him, sitting still in my seat as I watched Nathaniel ease into a conversation like he knew the people. He probably did.
I watched on as he danced with one man to another, shared a drink or a brief hug. my heart was starting to race, and a lump was forming in my throat as I watched him. I couldn’t help but feel that he looked more in tune and in place with them. With me, he always got irritated at some point. My lips formed a thin line as I watch someone hold on to him by the waist before laughing.
Why was I still watching him interact with men in the crowd? It was a sadistic thing to do to myself.
I got up, feeling dizzy and nauseous. I started making my way towards the exit, wanting to be out of the bar. I didn’t want to watch Nathaniel have fun with others. That’s not what I had in mind when he asked me to follow him to his friend’s place. I was soon outside in the dimly lit parking lot. My skin was kissed by the cool air and I shivered in response. It took a while for my heart to start beating properly. I was still dazed and recovering from my shock when I heard my name being called. I turned around to find Nath calling out to me with wide eyes as he walked in my direction.
“Why did you leave so suddenly?” he asked me. His voice was loud, and I just looked down at the floor when he stopped right in front of me.
“It’s really none of your business.” I wasn’t sure why I was saying that. Maybe I was angry and frustrated with myself. Maybe I was jealous. Maybe it was all of the above.
“What?” I looked up to find a puzzled look on Nath’s face. He looked confused Shrugging my shoulders, I looked down at the ground again.
“Go and dance and drink with them. You seemed to be enjoying yourself.” I looked up. Nath’s lips were in a thin line. “You might as well kiss them too. I know you do. I know I’m not the only one—”
“What are you going on about?” he asked, cutting me off.
I stared at him, opening my mouth them closing it before tucking my hands into the pockets of my trousers. “I really don’t know. I don’t know,” I muttered.
“I came here to have fun with you. You said you didn’t want to dance. You don’t drink. Anything beyond kissing makes you uncomfortable. Well, what do you want? Help me out here because I’m so confused,” Nath said in a pleading tone.
“You’re telling me you know you’re not the only one. Is that an accusation of something? We’re not dating. You’re going to leave here and forget all about me in a while so why does it seem like you’re trying to get some sort of faithfulness out of me? Are you trying to torture me, or don’t you care about how self-centered you’re being? Or do you think you’re the only one with feelings?”
He stopped talking, and I didn’t respond to him. The area went quiet and we just looked at each other. I bit my bottom lip, not knowing what to do. I’m not sure how it happened but my eyes started to water and soon I was sobbing. Nath’s eyes went wide with shook, and he soon pulled me to his chest, holding me close as I cried. When I calmed down a bit he pulled me away, looking down at me with a worried look.
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know,” I answered with honesty. I could feel my hands shake, and my lips were trembling, and I was shivering though it wasn’t cold. I blinked when Nath’s hands found their way around my face, cupping it in his hands before he leaned over to press a kiss to my lips. Once, twice, and soon I was kissing him back, realizing that I wanted more. His hands had moved to my back, pulling me closer. I didn’t know where to put my hands, so I nested them on his chest, sighing into the kiss as it became deeper.
Nath pulled away again, and soon he was kissing my cheeks, the soft spot under my now wet eyes, and my neck. I shivered as his hands moved under my shirt, pressing my skin, molding it lightly like they were desperate to touch something but didn’t know what.
“We should stop,” his voice was low — unsure. He didn’t sound like he wanted to stop, and it seemed like he was banking on me to pull away out of fear. I shook my head, reaching out to pull his face down a bit so to my lips met his again. His lips were soft as usual.
I let out a low stutter when his insistent lips parted my shaking ones. I gave in, still kissing him, still not wanting to run away.
He pulled away after a while, staring down at my face as he ran the base of his thumbs over my cheeks. “You confuse me,” he said as his brown eyes gazed down at me. I cast my gaze to the ground, feeling overwhelmed.
“I’m s-sorry,” I muttered, not knowing what to say. I was confused too. I heard Nathaniel sigh, and soon he had pulled away from me completely. I felt little tingles in the area his thumbs had been. I looked up to find him looking down at me with a small smile.
“We should head to my friend’s place. It’s getting late.” I nodded at his words, and we walked over to the truck we had come in, getting in. I sat in the passenger seat in silence as Nath started the car and hummed along to the rap music that started playing. It had been put on pause when he parked.
“I’d rather not live like there isn’t a God
Than die and find out there really is
Think about it.”
I wanted to ask Nath what the song was called, and who was the singer because the last few lyrics sounded relatable. I wasn’t sure if that was the purpose of the song, but that was how I felt. That was why I was afraid.
Nath soon drove the truck out of the parking lot and into the main road. I watched him from the corner of my eye, happy to see that he didn’t seem too fazed by my hissy fit from before.
“We’re almost there. Give or take, ten minutes and we’ll be at his place,” Nath said, and I blinked as I came out of my thoughts.
“Nath,” I called out his name and soon he had turned to look at me with a raised brow.
“Sleep with me.” I wasn’t sure how my request would be answered when I had thought it up in my mind, but I hadn’t imagined Nathaniel would laugh at me. He was laughing, making my cheeks grown warm as I wondered why.
“Mathew,” he started, shaking his head a bit. “I don’t think you’ll want that. You’ll hate yourself for the rest of your life if you decide that you actually want to be a churchman with a wife, kids, and all that jazz.”
“I won’t let you do something stupid on a whim,” he said, turning away from me to look at the road ahead. “Also, you’re doing it again — being selfish. If you sleep with me and you break my heart in the future would you expect me to just shrug it off?”
I bit my bottom lip. I knew what I wanted. I wanted him, but he was right. I was scared, and I might pick the easy route at the end of the day.
We got to the apartment complex a few minutes later, and I followed Nath to the flat his friend lived in. The man was tall, just like Nath and I sat in the corner as I watched them catch up. There were many inside jokes that I really couldn’t understand, and of course, I got jealous when the man got too close and their conversation started to seem more like flirting.
But it was fine. I was supposed to be okay with it. We weren’t dating, and Nath didn’t owe me any explanations.
I really was a small part of Nathaniel’s life, but it was okay because I was supposed to be easy to forget when I left. He’s already a big part of my life. A lump formed in my throat at the thought. At night I shared the bed in the guest room with Nath. I watched him sleep since I couldn’t. He looked a little less intimidating when he slept. I wouldn’t say he looked smaller. He looked more like a gentle giant. His features were softer, and the resulting expression was almost childlike.
He was right in front of me. All of him. And I couldn’t have him because I was scared and confused. He wanted someone who wouldn’t look over their back when with him. Someone who would dance with him in the club without panicking — someone he didn’t have to sneak around with.
I wasn’t that someone, and it hurt.