Getting home again, I walked, fully grinning, into the house to be met by my parents, Autumn, and Dave all staring at the door I’d just walked through; so, basically, they were staring at me.
“You look worried, fellas,” I commented in a light tone while my grin slowly faded.
“Do you realize how late it is?” my sister asked.
I glanced at my watch and to my complete surprise saw that it was nearing eleven thirty. Had I really been gone that long?? It sure hadn’t seemed that way.
“We all tried calling you, you never answered,” my father notified me.
Reality crashed in on the last of my high and I realized just how much trouble I was in. Automatically I reached into my pants pocket, got out my phone, and checked it. Yup, there were the missed calls. I checked the volume and discovered it was on silent. I didn’t remember putting it on silent. I must’ve accidentally hit the volume control somehow…but when?
Oh! Wait! I’d done it on my way to dinner with Eli. I hadn’t wanted anything to interrupt our date, which had gone so very well that I’d forgotten…ah…yes.
I explained this to my family (being careful not to mention that I’d been out on a date with Elijah), and I apologized for my shortsightedness. Mom sighed when I finished, and hugged me.
“We’re just glad you’re safe.”
I didn’t know what to say to that so I just stood there awkwardly, hugging her back.
“Don’t think this means you’re not out of trouble, mister,” my father said. “You still haven’t explained what in hell’s name you were doing over at Elijah’s so late at night??”
My gaze flicked to my brother, whom looked confused the minute he saw.
“Why are you looking at me?” he asked aloud.
And then he got it. His eyes went wide for a split second, returning to normal just as our parents both looked at him for answers. He waited until they looked away again before mouthing:
“Please don’t tell them.”
“Luke, you need to answer my question,” our father prodded, sounding angry. Dad was usually a very patient man, but it was late, and he was tired. Thus, if I didn’t tell him in the next minute, things were about to get very ugly. I hoped Dave could forgive me for this someday.
“I was at Elijah’s because when I got home from hanging out with him earlier, Charlie and her girlfriend were sleeping on the couch,” she was already out to our parents; they hardly minded her sexuality (I had a feeling that had something to do with the fact that she was adopted…wait, I know how that sounds I just…I don’t know), “so I went to chill in my room. Dave was already in there…”
“Luke!” my brother hissed, his expression begging.
That right there told our parents all they needed to know which also meant they knew his girlfriend had been over, too.
“Oh, God,” our father exclaimed.
Our mother looked horrified. “Dave! You’re just a kid!”
Dave was now glaring at me.
“Thanks a lot, Luke,” he snapped.
I kept my mouth shut. It’d do none of us any good if he and I started fighting right now on top of everything else.
That’s when I noticed our sister. Autumn was looking as shocked as our parents did.
Full on jealousy overtook her expression in the following second, though (it was kind of spooky, actually, how fast it’d happened).
“You’ve had sex?!” she screeched. Without another word, she stalked off into her room. We all winced when her door banged shut.
I guess I wouldn’t tell her about what Eli and I did tonight. What she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her, since the knowledge actually would.
Returning my attention to the situation at hand, my parents were now having the talk 2.0 with Dave, who kept shooting daggers my way. That’s when he did the one thing he knew would betray me entirely.
“You think me having sex with my girlfriend is bad? Luke is gay! Elijah is his boyfriend! This entire time those two have been sucking face all over town and he hid it from you! How long’s it been, Luke? Six months or so?”
It was my turn to glare as our parents turned to me, looking, well, shocked; hardly shocking, that.
“How could you?” I asked my brother, now a stranger to me.
“Exactly, Luke! Now you know how it feels to be outed by your brother!”
“This is so not the same thing, Dave!”
“Oh, fucking spare me! Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re special, you asshole!”
The anger was quick; I couldn’t have stopped it even if I’d wanted to.
“The rules are different for those of us who aren’t straight! In case you haven’t fucking noticed, straight is the default! God fucking knows why, but there you have it! You just did the one thing that is meant to be up to me to decide when to do!” Boy, that sentence sure was confusing. “If you truly were my brother, you wouldn’t have betrayed me like this!”
Dave came up to me. He didn’t grab me, punch me, or hit me, but he was furious and that alone was the scariest thing I’d ever experienced from him.
“If you were truly my brother, you selfish fucktwat, you wouldn’t have used my experiences earlier to save your own ass, so get the fuck over yourself!” He shoved me hard enough for me to lose my balance and fall to the floor, and that’s when I completely snapped.
“SHITFUCK!” I screamed at him, tripping him just before he could get out of my reach.
It was extremely satisfying watching while I stood up as he fell face first to the floor, but the satisfaction died within seconds as he recovered, got to his feet, and lunged at me. We both started screaming unintelligible words meant to be insults while trying to get in hits, and both of us managed to do some damage before our parents finally got us pried apart and forced away from each other. Sam was sent to his room, while Dad shoved me (not hard enough to hurt me, just enough for me to get the point) towards the couch, told me angrily that I’d be sleeping there tonight, that I was grounded for a to-be-determined length of time, and that tomorrow after school (from which I was to come straight home) he, mom, and I were going to have a long talk.
As I was left the last one in the room, the anger gave out and the tears began. I really did hate how every time I got angry, I ended up crying; talk about pathetic.
Sleep didn’t come easily that night.
The following morning, the kitchen was dead silent despite all five of us sitting together at the table per our parents’ instructions. Well, okay, dead silent was not accurate. There were sounds: like that of our silverware clinking on the dishes, our chewing (some louder than others), the crinkle of the newspaper dad read in between bites of his breakfast, the birds chirping happily outside totally oblivious to the heavy tension in the room, you get the idea. It occurred to me that the only sibling not actually in trouble was Autumn, but she was just as sullen as the rest of us. Part of me wanted to talk to her, to comfort her but, for some reason, I felt very determined not to be the first one to speak, as if this silence between us all was a competition.
Dave finished his breakfast first, so he was the first to get up. Autumn and I acted like we hadn’t noticed; I ended up caving in and watching as mom looked up from her phone, watched her eldest (by, like, two minutes just so you know) put away his dish in the dishwasher and sulk out of the room. She exchanged a look with her husband, stood up—breakfast unfinished—and went after him. I could faintly hear them conversing in the living room, but didn’t bother to try to listen in more closely.
Following that, after a minute of silence from the room, I heard the front door open then close, followed by the sound of Dave’s car’s engine turning over. Mom walked into the kitchen, sat back down, and resumed her breakfast.
The silence went on. It was pretty unbearable and, yet, I still did nothing to change that.
Neither parent followed me when I headed out for school (Did that burn me? Yeah, a bit.). The only thing either did to acknowledge my leaving was that Dad reminded me to come straight home after school. I said okay, and left. It wasn’t until I was near the school that I realized I had rehearsal tonight. I guess I’d have to text him once I was parked, asking if I could stay after school. If I couldn’t…man…I sure hope the director wouldn’t drop me. Plus, the play was the only real time I got to spend with Eli during the day. Sometimes he’d visit for lunch, but his friends were assholes who always made it extremely difficult for him to leave; he didn’t visit often because he had to expend so much energy just to get past them. I wished he’d just ditch them already. My friends loved him, and he really enjoyed hanging out with them (as far as I knew, anyway).
Anyways, at school, safely parked, engine off, and the text sent, I got out, took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and headed towards the school entrance, locking my car via remote on the way. My heart felt heavy with anxiety for my father’s answer, for the fissure that now existed between me and my twin, and for Autumn, who was also at odds with Dave. Regarding Autumn, I was anxious she’d find out that I, too, had had a sexual experience. I loved my sister dearly; I didn’t want to lose her, too.
That all melted away, however, the moment I spotted Eli, clearly searching for me, standing closer than usual to the side entrance doors where I always entered. The smile that spread upon his face the moment he saw me was like pure sunshine on my gloomy day. Everything within me thawed right out, and by the time I was in his arms sharing a kiss, I’d forgotten all about the tension from earlier.
“I missed you,” he told me once we came back up for air.
I found myself hugging him to me and burying my face against his neck. I loved the sweet smell of him. I think it was Japanese cherry blossom, which was usually a feminine scent (if you went by society’s standards, that is), but whatever, I loved it.
Eli was very astute this morning. “Luke, what’s wrong?”
I recounted everything that had gone down once I’d arrived home last night. By the time I finished, his expression was a mixture of sympathy, empathy, sorrow, and anger. It comforted me having him to talk to; I felt better now.
“I…don’t…I don’t know what to say. That just. I can’t believe…”
It hit me all at once that this guy was mine; that I loved him with every single ounce of my being and then some. I finally was one of the lucky ones.
“Holding me works, too,” I told him.
He smiled. “I can do you one better.” He took my face in his hands and kissed me with a deep, healing passion. It was the kind of kiss that was slow and lazy, that dragged on with no hurry. It was just what I needed.
In the distance, a couple of Eli’s friends watched the pair make out, matching expressions of disgust on their (the friends’) faces.
“How can he like such a low life?” one of them muttered.
“Ugh, fuck if I know. I thought for sure that by now he’d realize what a shit Luke is and dump him for quality goods.”
They watched some more. Then:
“Is it me, or do they seem closer?” the first guy asked.
Second guy realized what the first one was getting at, and he knew all too well what that meant.
“Shit. Do you think they…?”
“I don’t know, man, but they sure are having a hard time parting.”
Shit, the second guy thought, this is not good.
“We may need to intervene before this gets too far.”
First guy looked at him weirdly. “If they’ve had sex, Nathan, it’s already gone too far. You and I are the only two who know that Eli is really a virgin. Or…uh…was…a…uhm…”
Nathan rolled his eyes. “Either way, Austin, we need to break them up. And I have just the plan to do it.”
Once he finished explaining, Austin found the idea to be a good one, and so they set out to ruin the first good thing to happen to Eli because it mattered none what Eli wanted, it only mattered that he fix his damaged reputation. Clearly, he just needed a push in the right direction.