“Alright. That does it for today, Declan. I really think we made some progress.” Dr. Anderson concluded.
Having to rehash the memory of finding out Gable had been cheating on him brought up a Rolodex of emotions. Not to mention that Dr. Anderson’s questions only lead to more internal questions. Did Gable ever truly love him? Or had it all been nothing more than a canard?
Gable paced around his room. His racing at the speed of light. Declan had cheated on him, and he had cheated on him.
Mary was her name. He’d met her through some friends at a party, and before he knew it, they’d made out.
He knew he had done it just to validate his masculinity, but it was to no avail. His heart was set on that boy.
It pained him to know that he had pushed him so far away that he had cheated on him. He didn’t even know who they guy was, all he knew was that now someone else shared a piece of Declan, and it tore him apart.
“Damn it.” He exclaimed as he threw his letterman jacket across the room.
Nothing seemed to make sense anymore. He didn’t want to accept the fact that he’d helplessly fallen in love with a guy. He feared what that would do for his social standing.
There he was, the all-American guy, the quarterback, star basketball player, track prodigy, baseball extraordinaire… Crying over a guy. Was it possible for him to be all those things and still be in love with the one person he knew he truly longed to be with?
“No.” He repeated to himself time and again.
He couldn’t. He didn’t have the courage to admit it. He had to end it. But how? He couldn’t just expel him from his life. That would take short of an exorcism. He’d have to do something so the teenager would hate him until his dying day. It was the only way.
Hours passed by and he couldn’t bring himself to even attempt to figure a scenario in which he could screw over Declan so bad he’d never speak to him again.
Before Declan, there had been Daniel. He’d never gone far enough as to even talk to a guy, but something about him had allured the jock.
Like all other people he’d eventually become romantically involved with, they’d met at a party and soon after begun to hang out outside of social gatherings.
At first, it was just meeting up for coffee and good conversations, but soon they were finding any excuse to be near the other. They never went past occasionally making out, but he knew he’d been the ultimate catalyst to his sexual curiosity.
He never planned to fall for someone like Declan, but something about him had enraptured him. His smile, his dimples, the inconspicuous wrinkles that formed on his forehead.
"Stop." He warned himself.
He fumbled for his phone until he found it. Declan hadn’t texted him at all that day, which he found suspect. By now, they’d be pages into their day.
It was bewildering how open he could be with him. Nothing was off the table. He had entrusted him with his deepest secrets. No one knew him like Declan did.
And yet, he knew he had to put an end to it. With the State Basketball Championship looming in the horizon, he had more than enough on his mind.
Additionally, he knew he wouldn’t be able to achieve his dreams of becoming a professional athlete, if he continued to string him along. People would berate… Undermine him and his talents, his athletic merit… He was sure of it.
He drafted a text to Mary.
"I have a gr8 time with u when we hang out. Would u go 2 prom with me? :)"
He knew what he was doing, but this was the only way out. He debated on sending the message, but common sense won out, and he eventually pressed send.
Her response arrived within seconds. Of course, she accepted his invitation. A melancholic, yet austere feeling enveloped him. It was the beginning of the end of his relationship with Declan. He didn’t want to accept it, but a part of him knew it to be true.
It’d been months since he’d last spent any time with Brittany... Come to think of it, the last time he’d even talked to her was back during the basketball tournament at which Bryson had made Gable tell everyone he was merely using Declan for his money. Although he’d known better than to spend time with her, lest he angered Gable, he decided to do it anyway.
“Don’t ever fucking talk to me again.” She glared.
“Why would he say that?” Declan furrowed his brow.
“I don’t know, because I told you about Mary?” She swirled her pasta around.
“Brittany, it’s not like I wasn’t going to find out.” Declan shrugged.
“Well, apparently, I betrayed him.” She air quoted, “Whatever that means.”
Declan emitted a chuckle, “Well, maybe he’s just über protective of me. He didn’t want me getting jealous of him taking a girl to prom.”
“Maybe. I don’t know, but what’s done is done. Much like this pasta.” She frowned.
“Alright. Well, I have to get going, before long.” He said as he wiped his mouth.
They paid and left the restaurant. As they exchanged pleasantries Declan couldn’t help but smirk at the thought of Gable’s protectiveness. It’d been a while since he felt Gable actually cared. It was a familiar warmth he had grown to miss.
He opened his phone and drafted a quick text.
"I love you. No matter what anyone tells me, that will never change." He sent the text and began the drive to Rio Rojo.
Gable never responded to that text, or at least he never sent a response.
Midway to his destination, Declan pulled over. He was sweating. He tightened his grip on the steering wheel.
"Just throw up,” His subconscious whispered. ”You don’t need that food."
The longer he sat there, the more his mind begged him to expel the meal he’d just consumed. He attempted to exorcise himself of the thoughts, but he couldn’t. His conscious overcame him.
"THROW IT UP!" It begged.
He obliged, got out and spilled his lunch all over the side of the road. His eyes watered, his abdomen heaved... It was a powerful feeling that washed over him. He emptied everything he’d consumed.
Once back inside his car, he produced a packet of disinfectant wipes from his glove compartment, and proceeded to clean himself. His eyes began to water the longer he stared at himself through the rearview mirror.
This was his new reality. This was the life he’d chosen. He couldn’t blame anyone else, but himself, for his choices. To blame his subconscious would be an immature thing to do. It was his doing, and no one else’s. Tears coursed down his cheeks in rapid succession, he’d lost himself.
He composed himself after a while. It was a scary realization to face, but ,now that it’d become real, he knew had to do something about it. He couldn’t let this get the best of him. He exhaled out one last deep breath, turned on his car, and resumed his journey to Rio Rojo.
“So, are you going to your prom?” Skylar asked as he came down from chalking up the bar.
Declan was in handstand, practicing pirouettes. Other than what Gable was doing for his own prom, he hadn’t really placed much importance on his own.
“Hello?” Skylar asked, pushing his legs and knocking him over, “I asked you a question.”
“Sorry.” Declan shook his head, “I have a lot on my mind. Um... I don’t know about prom. I don’t think there’s a home-school prom.”
“Oh, right. Okay.” He nodded, “You alright?”
Declan shrugged, “I will be.”
Skylar sat beside him and examined his ankle; it’d been bothering him for a while, but he didn’t think much of it. As he tightened the bandage he caught Declan’s eye.
“You want to spot me on that mount?” Declan’s eyes burned.
“The Arabian front?” He raised his eyebrow.
“You seriously want to try it after last time?”
“Why not? I was able to get it once. I’ve lost even more weight, I’ve been nailing the double front on floor. We’ve been working on it for a while now; I really think I could nail it at State, if I start seriously training it.” Declan smirked and walked over to the chalk bucket.
He looked so thin. Skylar frowned as he looked him up and down.
“Look, I didn’t want to ask this… But… Are you doing something different to lose weight?” Skylar looked genuinely concerned.
Declan looked into his eyes. He wanted to confide with him what Coach Johnson had done to him. He wanted to tell him what was happening to him… He’d kept his binging and purging to himself, up to that point…
“No,” Declan shook his head, and forced a smile, “I’ve just been eating better. Conditioning.” He lied.
Skylar knew differently, as much as Declan had tried to hide it from him, he knew what he’d been doing, and he knew it was getting to an excessive level, however… He couldn’t bring himself to tell him he knew, lest he jeopardize their friendship.
“Alright, just... Don’t hurt yourself… I mean, you’ve only landed it a few times.”
“I won’t… Besides, if I do, I’m blaming you.” He laughed.
For the duration of their rotation, Declan tried to land the mount, but he slammed straight into the floor time and again.
“Fuck!” He exclaimed, having barely missed the bar once more.
“Take a break. You’re letting it get to your head. You’ve got to stop trying and just let it happen.” Coach Johnson instructed as he walked out of his office.
“I’m not letting anything get to my head.” Declan retorted.
“You don’t have to tell me that. Tell it to yourself. I’m not the one attempting to innovate a bar mount. Which, if I may point out, could get you penalized.”
“Olesya Dudnik competed a tucked version in the late eighties. It was an E element back then. 1.509. In the CoP.” Declan blurted.
“So, you’ve done your homework.” Coach Johnson acknowledged.
“Take a water break. Skylar, I need you in my office.”
As they walked away, Declan sat there looking at the bar. It was as if it were taunting him. The more he stared the more it fueled his desire to land the mount.
He walked over to his bag and searched for his water bottle. As he allowed himself a couple sips, he looked through his phone to see if Gable had replied. Nothing. He shrugged it off and threw his phone back in the bag.
Skylar hadn’t returned, so Declan prepared the springboard himself. This time, he placed it a couple inches closer to the high bar. He walked a bit further away than from where he had been starting, focused on the bar and let out a huge breath.
He sprinted, rounded off onto the springboard, flung his body through the air and reached for the bar. He caught it.
He hung from the bar for what seemed an eternity. As he kipped up and prepared to dismount with a back tuck, he felt an amazing rush of accomplishment. It surged through his body giving him unparalleled confidence. He released from the bar, tucked at the peak of his vertical and landed.
“How did that feel?” Coach Johnson asked from the opposite side of the gym.
Declan smirked and gave him a toothy grin and thumbs up.
“So, what happened with prom?” Karen asked.
Toby was sitting next to her. It was evident they were beginning to develop feelings for each other, regardless of what Karen let on.
“Well, Gable went with Mary, and hung out with her for the next few weeks. He ended up dumping her a short while after, and jumped right into a relationship with some girl named Lissie. With two s’s.” He pushed his food around with a fork.
“Lissie… Lissie… Liiiiissssssiieeeeee,” she rolled her name around her mouth, as if tasting a wine, “Even her name tastes basic.”
“You’re telling me,” He chuckled, “Get this, she was a ‘model’.”
Karen and Toby burst out in laughter. It was moments like these that really made him appreciate having opened up, and letting people back into his life.
“GOD, she sounds insufferable!” Karen snorted.
“Agreed, but, in all seriousness… Lissie was this girl that he talked to periodically, and, at first, he told me not worry about it… Like with any other girl he talked to.”
“Guys always say that.” Karen shook her head.
“Hey, now,” Toby exclaimed, “Not all guys are like that.”
“Toby, this isn’t about you.”
Toby shook his head, and smirked. They complimented each other well. Karen was outspoken, as was Toby. They even looked like they belonged together. On some level, Declan envied them and their budding relationship. It reminded of how things were back when he and Gable first started out… The butterflies, the passion… Everything.