Speak & Listen

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We arrived at my apartment. My mom’s car wasn’t in the driveway. We, Sophia and I, got inside with our pile of shopping bags.

“I swear this is an exercise for women.”

Sophia cried under her breath.

“Yeah, well I can’t relate.”

“Shut up.”

She helped me cook dinner. It was getting late. I got a text from mom.

“Mom has gone to visit Nana in the ghetto. She’s sick. She’ll be back tomorrow.” I then threw the phone on the couch.

Sophia grinned. “Well, that’s nice...not ‘Grandma Serriah sick’ part, obviously. We’re definitely inviting Mia, Benjamin and Jeremiah. They were gonna ask us to come to a party with them, but apparently someone doesn’t like parties. Boo!” She directed the last word at me.

"Boo yourself! I didn’t coerce you to choose a boring friend.”

“Boring in a good way.” She grinned, and later on, I understood that it was beg for them to come over.

My eyes rolled. “Fine. As long as it won’t be a party.”

“It won’t.”

There was more than enough food for us and the upcoming guests. We waited at the dinner table, awkwardly, until we were interrupted by a knock.

Sophia had the widest grin I had ever seen. She stood up and ran to the door...let me correct that, sprang to the door. She can be a baby sometimes.

A few seconds later, she came back with the expected guests. Benjamin had a large bag on his back, Jeremiah had two full plastic bags and Mia only had her purse to carry.

Mia is a quiet girl for a first impression. She does Opera and was both a singer and actress. She’s far known as the best singer in school. An “innocent” A-grade student alongside myself. She and Sophia have been friends since day of birth. We knew each other since fifth grade, and connected and became friends during freshman year. I had shut her down when I came out because she was, at the time, dating Calvin. A jock!

“Oh my word, is that liquor?” I asked as I saw Jeremiah’s plastics.

“I bought your favourite.”

Jeremiah Simone and I were not only ‘just friends’, but he understood my every move. He knew everything I failed to know about myself. He understood my anxieties and nervousness. I knew the world about him too and one of the worst traits Jeremiah has: his ignorance of signals and metaphors. Also, he had his own definition of justice. One that involved a moulded fist, which I hated.

Jeremiah used to be friends with William, Mason, Chris and Brandon. Chris and Brandon hated my guts and started bullying me. We all used to be friends, as I’ve said. Chris and Brandon, on the other hand, got suspended once after the bullying was discovered. If it wasn’t for the day I was found unconscious in the school’s restrooms, beaten and bruises, Chris and Brandon would still be bullying me. Clever Cats still hasn’t done anything other than suspension.

He took out a bottle of liqueur and smiled. It was his favourite as well. Meanwhile, Benjamin, Mia and Sophia preferred tequila and perries.

“Have you guys cooked anything? I’m starving” Benjamin interrupted my reverie.

“Well...Adrian did.”

“You cook now?” Jeremiah giggled.

“Well yes.” I felt awkward answering that question. Or felt known.

Everyone assembled at the dinner table. I dished out for the five of us. I gave each one of them a plate and we started dining.

“Not bad” Benjamin and I dapped.

“Thank you.” I smiled.

“Not bad at all,” Mia added.

“Yeah.” Jeremiah followed.

Everyone was excited about what would happen after dinner. Apparently we were going to play Truth or Dare. Then afterwards, spin the FUCKIN’ bottle! I was the only one who disagreed on playing the second one. Of course, I could just lie on the first game, and whatever dare I’d get wouldn’t compel me to reveal my secret.

“Mia, Truth or Dare?” Benjamin asked.


Everyone oou-ed.

“I dare you to strip off all your clothes except your under-clothing. And stay that way throughout the night.” Benjamin grinned.

I literally thought her ‘shy’ self would never do such a thing. It took her seconds to strip off her umbrella dress and was only left with her thong and bra.

Her whole buttocks, both of them, were exposed to everyone in the room. Benjamin, even Sophia, stared for a while. Only Jeremiah and I didn’t. Only because he was staring at me in silence.

“Okay, cut it out. Every girl has to wear a thong every once in a while. Jeremiah,

Truth or Dare?” Mia sassed.

“Uhm... Truth.” he replied tamely.

“If you were gay, which celebrity would you date?”

“What kind of a dumb question is this? If you were gay?” Benjamin giggled.

Yeah, it was quite dumb.

“No one. I hate overrated people.” Jeremiah replied.

I giggled. It was the funniest traits about him as well.

“Adrian...” Sophia giggled as my heart skipped a beat.

“Yes?” I tried to sound as confident as possible, but we all know it probably seemed out-of-character.

“Truth or Dare?”

“Dare” so all I had to do is do. Much better than actually saying anything.

“Between William, Benjamin and Jeremiah...who would you date? Choose at least one person. If one of them is here, I dare you to kiss them. If not, you’re going to write a sex text to William, with your name at the bottom without any explanation.”

“Wow, that was long and premeditated,” Mia giggled. “He still has to do it.”

“You’re aware there’s a room of heterosexual men here, right?” I asked Sophia with widened eyes.

“So?” Benjamin, Mia, Sophia and Jeremiah sang together.

My eyes widened. “You guys are impossible.”

“I knew you’d lie about it, so...”

“Sophia!!!” I yelled at her.

William was out. I couldn’t risk it. Between Benjamin and Jeremiah, would I date any of them? Benjamin was the typical underrated James Bond, leather jacket stud who always carried around a bunch of keys and wore tight, blue jeans. He was like his own Chuck Norris, but with a model’s facial look. His eyes were so beautiful as if he was always squinting at the sun. He had big, beautiful lips too that looked like rosemary. But he, at some point, didn’t seem so sweet. He looked both narcissistic and dangerous.

Jeremiah...oh Jeremiah. Sweet and caring personality. He’s a canvas of beauty, an embodiment of a god.

His perfection is blinding, it is praise-worthy. It is worth dying for. But things got complicated between us. He’s the most underrated, however, every girl would love just a taste of him. It scared me. Sometimes he lets me forget that he’s not gay. But of course, every man has a dark side. I’ve seen him angry before and it’s nothing human. I dreaded that side of him.

He had imperfections too, don’t get me wrong! But they were perfect.


Everyone’s eyes widened. There was a long, awkward silence. I knew Sophia’s plan, and I had anticipated every move. Everybody else seemed to be into the plan as well, but I’m not planning to complicate my life in that manner.

Benjamin giggled. He was actually flattered, but somehow I could tell that he was brushing off the awkwardness.

“You are one weird man, Adrian.” Sophia frowned.

We all laughed it out. I didn’t dare look at Jeremiah. Told myself I’d look at him after the kiss.

Benjamin neared from across me.

“Just know that if we ever date, we’re banging five times a night. Really depends on the mood.”


Not great, actually. It’s pervertic...disgusting!

We kissed. I have to say, he was comfortable and relaxed. I quite understood and admired his insight and perception about sexual orientation in general. He was certain of himself, and that I liked.

“You smell like Chinese food and a wet, dead dog.” He said with a blank face.

“And your mouth smells like laxatives and rat poison.” I straightened my mouth.

We blankly looked at each other before exploding to laughter. Everyone else other than Benjamin and I were silent.

“I was really hoping you’d text William.” Mia smiled.

“It wouldn’t be as funny as anyone would expect. Trust me.” Jeremiah explained

“Some kind of beef?” Benjamin asked.

“Well...they were all friends since fifth grade, until Adrian came out.” Sophia butted in.

“Is that why you thought we’d trip?” Benjamin asked again, looking at me.

“Everyone so far has.”

Benjamin and I have seen each other at school, but we were never introduced to each other. I’d see him every now and then, either when Sophia wants us to watch the boys practise for rugby or in the cafeteria. He just didn’t look familiar at all at the cafe.

I didn’t know he was that sympathetic, until...

“I know the feeling of standing out, being different. Being an orphan may seem like the most normal thing, but it does feel like every now and then you’re missing out on what every other kid has. There are so many things to trip about other than someone else’s sexuality.”

“Uhm...dude, your parents are back home. What are you talking about?” Mia intersected.

“Foster parents. And not even they play parental roles.”


Sophia sniffed before she spoke “I battle with obesity too. I seem quite happy about myself as well, but I sleep every day thinking about how my life would be different if I had a slim body, just like Mia’s or...yours, for example.” Sophia added, looking at me with wet eyes. “You’d be surprised that you’re not the only one with insecurities.”

I started weeping. I could see Benjamin holding his sobs in as well. Jeremiah was expressionless. I couldn’t read anything from his face. Mia wept as well.

“Haven’t told many people about this, but I figured that it would make someone better...I suffer from cancer. It’s been eight years now. My uterus and ovaries are already damaged, so I will never carry kids on my own.” Mia looked down afterwards.

Sophia’s eyes widened before speaking. “Does your dad know?”

“Yes, but he has Alzheimer’s. He forgets a lot, sometimes thinks I’m just an assistant around the house.” Mia looked down. “So Adrian, your sexuality is the least of our problems. If anyone is to call you their friend, you should never compromise yourself to please them.”

“How did a game of Truth or Dare become so bitter?” Sophia giggled.

Lucky enough, we were able to laugh out our miseries. The atmosphere enlightened once more. Sophia was like her own sun, a halo of aura. Everything just seemed okay and pleasant when she was there. Everything she said sounded important, although not factually.

We drank up a little bit. Mia was starting to get drunk because a) she was starting to flirt with Jeremiah and b) she was talking a lot, dancing a lot and drinking a lot. Sophia drank as well but was so far from drunk. I was getting tipsy and drowsy...it was liqueur after all. Jeremiah was just tipsy and quiet. Benjamin seemed alleviated. He could have kissed anyone in the room.

Benjamin span the bottle. We were all assembled in a circle on the ground. The first spin landed on Mia and Sophia. They, obviously, kissed. Passionately.

Mia span the bottle again, it landed on Sophia and Jeremiah.

We all couldn’t help but giggle, it was just cringe-worthy.

As they kissed...“I need to go. I’ll be right back. Take your time, Sophia.”

I ran upstairs. I went to my bedroom. I was truly getting tipsy. The atmosphere in the room heated. I washed my face with basin water. I hated this plan, their plan.

Jeremiah can be different, I know. I saw the disappointment in his eyes when he heard I was gay. I saw the fear of ‘contamination’ in him.

But Benjamin changed my perception of him as well.

So I wrote him a letter...

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