I was standing in front of Nathaniel’s house now. I just stared at the door, feeling the confidence that had built up in me a few hours ago simply drain out of my system. I had an excuse to why I was here — returning his key, but it was a weak one. He could easily get it from me during his regular morning walks when we met up. A sigh left my lips as I ran a hand through my hair. I had lied to get out from the station, saying I was visiting someone I had started staying in touch with. Well, it was more of a half lie. I wasn’t here to talk about God with Nathaniel, that’s for sure.
From what the lady at the grocery store told me, he had come back earlier today. It was early noon now, I hadn’t seen him since he came back, so here I was.
My eyes went wide when my ears picked up the sound of the door lock turning. I stood frozen, watching as the wooden door flew open and Nathaniel stepped out. He didn’t notice me at first, but when he did one of his brows rose up as he gave me a confused look.
“I came to return your keys,” I said, looking away from him as I searched my pockets for his keys. When I found it, I took it out before walking over to him and stretching it out to him. He hesitated a bit before taking the key from my open palm.
“Is that all you wanted to do?” he asked.
No. Of course, I didn’t say that out loud. Instead, I just stared at him with my lips lightly parted like I had lost my voice. He chuckled, shaking his head before moving to drop the garbage bag he was holding in the bin by the door. He walked into his house, holding his door open before staring at me.
“Are you coming?” he asked, and I blinked, nodding before walking into his house as well. He closed the front door behind us, and it was then it dawned on me that I was really inside his house. My eyes darted from corner to corner, taking in the small living room we were standing in now. The place was simple with the basic colors and furnishing. Exactly what I had expected. Nathaniel had struck me as the simple type of person.
“Do you want anything to drink?” I heard him ask as I watched him head towards the tiny kitchenette at the corner.
“Yeah, water is fine,” I said, watching as he hummed, opening the tiny fridge before pulling out a pack of juice instead.
“How’s this?” he asked, waving it above his head so I could see it.
“It’s fine,” I answered, wondering if he hadn’t heard me ask for water, but I didn’t think about it too much.
I stood around, watching as he went about filling out a glass for me. I Thanked him when he brought it to me and started to drink from the glass as he went ahead to take a seat on one of the beaten-up sofas.
“So,” he started, reaching out for the remote on the coffee table in front of him. “What are you here for?” he asked, looking over at me. I paused drinking the orange juice, and just stared at him, trying to think up what to say.
“I came to return your keys.”
“We both know you’re lying Math,” he said, and I just stared at him with wide eyes.
He had never called me that before. The room fell into silence and we just stared at each other until Nath gestured for the seat beside him. I took that as an invitation to sit down so I went ahead and did just that. The sofa sank a bit with my weight, and I let my fingers hit the glass slowly as I tried to avoid his gaze. It felt like he was boring holes into my head.
“I know why you’re here,” he said, making my head shoot up to stare at him. Did he really? I wondered, watching as a hint of a smile formed on his lips. “But I can’t really do anything if you don’t make the first move, you see.” His laughter then filled the room, and I wasn’t sure how to feel. My face grew warm, and my hands were a bit shaky. Afraid that I would drop the glass I placed it on the side table by the sofa I was sitting on.
The room went quiet again, and then Nathaniel suddenly stood up. “Do you want to take a look at my books?” he asked, and I just stared at him.
“You know I like books, why do you look so shocked?” he asked, shaking his head as he turned around and started leaving. I got up, walking quickly so that I could catch up to him. He led me through the small hallway, and soon we were in a small study with about three bookcases. Nath wondered over to the desk at the corner, sitting on it before spreading out his hands like he was presenting the room to me.
“Take a lot around,” he said, and I turned to the closest bookcase, looking through the titles.
“You know, I wanted to get you a book,” I started, trying to get rid of the piercing silence the room had fallen into, ” but I couldn’t really tell what you would like,” I added before looking over at him with my hands in the pockets of my trousers. “I don’t know you too well.”
I watched him raise a brow at me before chuckling. “So, you want to know me?” he asked, and I looked on at him with a surprised gaze before I eventually nodded, answering honestly. There was a lot I wanted to ask him, but at the same time, I didn’t want to give myself away or sound too nosey.
“I like memoirs,” he started, swinging his legs. He was wearing pale blue jeans that fitted him nicely. I looked away, closing my eyes and saying a tiny prayer in my mind. Yes, I had been detached from praying for a while, but Nathaniel running around in my mind was one of the few reasons I closed my eyes and asked for God’s interference. “And I like theology.”
“Oh,” I said in reaction to the last bit. He smiled, swinging his legs as he hummed.
“What else do you want to know about me?” he asked, and I shrugged, moving closer to him. I made sure to stay about a foot away, not wanting to be too close.
“Why don’t you live with your mother?” I asked, and I watched him freeze for a bit, probably wondering if he should tell me. I watched him sigh before he ran a hand through his hair that he had put in twists today.
“She kicked me out,” he said, and my eyes went wide.
“Oh.” My response was flat and lame. I knew it, but I had nothing more to say. I hadn’t thought about the possibility at all. He didn’t seem phased by it, or even angry. If my parents kicked me out I would probably have cried until I died from exhaustion, but here he was, mentioning it like it was a passing fact.
“Your dad?” I asked, and he bit his lip, shaking his head.
“I really don’t know where he is,” he laughed. The laughter was tainted with nervousness, and what sounded like pain. Unlike with his mother, he seemed affected by this, and it made me a bit curious, but I didn’t ask him about it any further. He didn’t look like he wanted to talk about it.
“I have two little sisters,” I said, moving the conversation to me, trying to do away with the awkwardness I had created. He looked over at me with a raised brow, probably wondering why I had shared such a random fact with him. I smiled at him, and he smiled back before looking away. “I asked them to pray for me,” I said, laughing at myself. I’m not sure why it sounded so ridiculous all of a sudden.
“How are the prayers working out?” Nathaniel asked me, and I looked up to him, walking over the foot of distance I had kept between us. Soon I was leaning on the desk beside his sitting figure, looking right into his dark eyes.
“Not well to be honest,” I said, and his smile returned. My chest was starting to get butterflies, and my mind was fogged as I watched his lips move. I blinked, watching as he created space between us on the desk, moving so that my hands were no longer too close to him.
“I usually don’t mess around with people who are still in the closest,” he said, making me open my mouth before closing it.
Still in the closet. I repeated in my mind. There was a mist in my mind and a slight panic. I had only just dawned on me that the word ‘gay’ might apply to me and that I would eventually have to do that coming out thing Nathaniel was talking about.
“Is something wrong?” his voice was a muffle within my mind as I started thinking about things. My mind had been on Nathaniel and Nathaniel alone. I hadn’t really thought of what my attraction meant. I hadn’t thought about how it probably meant I was gay.
“Are you okay?” I heard his voice again, and this time I also felt his hands on my shoulder. I blinked, looking up as I was turned to face him. “Are you okay?” he repeated, and I nodded when he gave me a little shake.
“I’m sorry. I w-was just thinking,” I mumbled, not really knowing how to explain myself.
“About being gay?”
“About being gay,” I replied honestly, and he just sighed, letting go of my shoulders before folding his hands over his chest.
“So, what about it?” he asked, and I just shrugged.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t really thinking of anything beyond the present,” I admitted, and Nathaniel’s smile returned.
“Your church, your friends, your family... You weren’t thinking about them?” he asked, and I shook my head. Of course, I had been thinking about them, but never really in the grand scale detail that had happened a few seconds ago.
“I was,” I said out loud, “Not just overwhelmingly if that makes sense,” I said, and Nathaniel just frowned at me.
“Then what do you want to do?” he asked, and I just stared at him. I wasn’t sure what was happening, what this whole situation meant. Did he like me like I liked him? Was he just entertaining me? What in the world was going on? I bit my bottom lip, running a hand through my dark hair as I stared down at the carpeted floor.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said, making me look back up at him. He had moved back to the desk, and his back was resting on it. “If you make a move I won’t push you back,” he simply stated. “And if you decide to back off I won’t chase you.”
With a mind full of lust and confusion I moved forward, walking until I had to stop right in front of him. He towered over me.
“I want to kiss you,” I said.
“Reasonable,” he replied, looking down at me, his full lips twisting into a smile.
“I haven’t kissed anyone before,” I confessed, and his eyes seemed to widen in interest, but I ignored him, continuing with what I have to say. “I can’t make the first move, so if you could kiss me—”
I didn’t get to finish because he hand leaned off the table to pull me to himself. I hadn’t been this close to anyone in my life. I imagined being pressed against someone like a sardine to be uncomfortable, but now that my body was pressed against Nath, it felt oddly comfortable and exciting. He had moved to hold on to my lower back, leaving me clueless about what to do with my hands. He bent a bit, leaning over until he pressed his lips against my forehead.
My heart exploded, and I soon pulled away before reaching out for his face. He seemed surprised, but I didn’t give him enough time to react any future since I had pulled him into a rough kiss. I wasn’t sure what I was doing and felt relief fill me when he moved to run his hand through my hair as he made to take over the kiss.
Nath was kissing me. I was kissing him. I was kissing a man.