June 2005 by Birdie
I've got a secret. Unfortunately, it's not one of those secrets that you can easily hide forever. It's not a secret that you can easily share with your best friend although at some point you may have to share it. It's a secret that can destroy relationships while others won't care about it one way or another. Then"there are some people who will care greatly"whether it affects them or not. The difficult part is deciding who to tell and who not to tell. What will be the consequences?
Marc closed his notebook and stuffed his pen back into his backpack as he stood up to head for class. Today was going to be another long day.
"Marc! Wait up!"
Marc sighed to himself and felt his heart beat a little faster as his closest and best friend, Patrick, came running up to him. Sometimes, he felt as if people could see his secret and he was always afraid it would get out without his telling anyone.
"Were you going to leave without me? Man, what were you thinking?"
Marc gave Patrick a little smile as he said, "I was trying not to think today"once in a while it tends to hurt."
"Very funny. If you didn't want to walk with me you should have just told me."
Marc didn't answer as he began walking towards the classroom in thought. Unfortunately, Marc was quiet a little too long.
"What? What's wrong?"
"Damn,' Marc thought as he realized his mistake too late. Patrick was not going to let this go until he gave him an answer. "Think, Marc, think!'
"Yeah right," Patrick exclaimed with a look of disbelief and concern on his face. "Listen, Marc. You've been different the last few weeks and people have noticed. There has been something bothering you but you're not talking to anyone about it. I thought I'd give you some time to let me or someone know when you felt that you could but you're getting worse and I'm really worried about you."
Marc's mind was scrambled and he couldn't come up with a coherent answer quickly enough.
"Patrick" umm "well""
"Gentlemen, please get to class," Mr. Calvin said as he poked his head out of the door. "That is the final bell."
"I'll talk to you later, Patrick," Marc said as he ducked in front of Patrick and into the classroom. He couldn't believe his luck but he also knew it couldn't last forever. If Patrick had pressed him any further he would have eventually figured out what was bothering him and Marc was definitely not ready to tell. How was he going to avoid him the rest of the day? They were in five out of six classes together including gym and lunch, the two periods in which talking is allowed. As Marc sat trying to figure a way out he slowly began to panic. There was no way he could avoid this all day.
Marc's anxiety began to grow as the clock slowly ticked away the minutes remaining in class. Marc could feel the cold sweep over him and the nausea set in. When there was about five minutes left in class, Marc quickly raised his hand.
"May I please go to the nurse, sir? I don't feel too well."
"Well, you do look a little pale"come on up and get a pass."
Marc gathered his things and headed to the front of the room. He purposely avoided looking in Patrick's direction as he took the pass from the teacher and headed out the door to the nurse's office. He had come up with a quick solution but would the nurse allow him to stay all day? He didn't think so but it may get him out of his next period. Marc began mentally kicking himself when he thought, "I should have used the "nurse card' during gym.'
The nurse took one look at Marc's still pale features and had him lay down on one of the cots while she took his temperature. When the reading came back normal she told him that he could stay on the cot for the next period and they would see where it goes from there. Marc nodded and closed his eyes. Next period was the one class he didn't have with Patrick so he knew he had a little more time. That thought helped him relax and he drifted off to sleep.
Marc awoke to the sound of the bell and the sight of the nurse standing over him.
"Your color seems a little better. How do you feel?"
"I feel better," Marc replied. An idea suddenly popped into his head.
"May I get a pass to sit out of gym? My stomach still feels a little queasy."
The nurse gave a short nod and headed back to her desk to write the pass. Marc sighed in relief as he now knew he had lengthened the amount of time before he would have to speak to Patrick. He hated doing this but he couldn't lie to Patrick either. They've never lied to one another before and Marc didn't intend to start now.
As Marc left the nurse's office he headed to his locker to gather his books for his next class. He wasn't too concerned about running into Patrick because Patrick's next class was on the other side of the building. That's why when he turned the corner towards his locker; he was surprised to see Patrick standing there with a worried expression on his face. Marc sighed inwardly and forced himself not to panic.
"Are you okay? What happened? I was worried when you didn't come to class last period and..." Patrick was speaking faster than he could breathe.
"I'm alright, just a little queasy. The nurse had me lie down during last period."
The relief from Patrick could be felt by Marc and Marc smiled.
"Thanks for being so concerned. That means a lot to me."
"You're my best friend, of course I'm concerned about you. That brings me back to the conversation we started this morning""
"Aren't you going to be late for class," Marc said quickly to deflect the topic.
"Then I'll be late for class. You're more important."
Any other time Marc would have been flattered but right now he could feel the panic begin again.
"Well, umm"ya know," Marc paused and sighed. "Even if you don't mind being late to class, I do. I'll talk to you later. Okay."
Marc paused. Promises were pretty serious between the two and you never promised if you didn't intend to keep it. Marc lowered his head and nodded. It wasn't enough for Patrick.
"Tell me that you promise. This is really important, Marc."
Marc didn't say anything.
"Okay," Marc said in little more than a whisper.
"Alright, I'll catch you later then."
Marc watched as Patrick shot down the hall. He realized he'd been standing there for a while when he felt the first tear trickle down his cheek. "Now what,' he thought. He pulled his books from the locker and wiped his tears away as he headed to class.
Marc was lost in his next class as his mind wandered. Fortunately, the teacher never called on him. The bell rang and mark headed out the door towards the gym. He saw Patrick head in the locker room doors. Marc went to Coach Kendall's office and handed him the pass from the nurse. Coach nodded and Marc went out to grab a seat on the bleachers. He saw Patrick come out of the locker room as he sat down. He could tell that Patrick was looking for him and when he spotted Marc in the bleachers, Marc once again saw that look of concern cross his features.
Marc sighed, gave a small wave and pulled out his reading for his English class. The period went swiftly and the bell soon rang. Next period was lunch and Marc had another plan to avoid Patrick once again. He headed for the library and found the most secluded corner he could and finished reading his book for English.
The bell rang for the final class and Marc slowly gathered his things. This class would be the hardest because he and Patrick were lab partners. After that, Marc wasn't too sure how he was going to get home without Patrick close behind. However, he wasn't ready for what greeted him when he reached the classroom.
Patrick was sitting at their lab table but he wouldn't even look at Marc. Suddenly, Marc knew that he had screwed up royally. However, he still didn't know how he could fix it. He still wasn't ready to share his secret. Marc sat opposite Patrick and waited for him to look at him. When he did, he was shocked to see the tears streaming down Patrick's face.
"Patrick, what's wrong? What happened?"
"I don't know. Why don't you tell me," Patrick said icily.
Marc was taken aback and he felt a loss for words. Patrick spoke again.
"Where were you at lunch? I waited all period for you. I know you're avoiding me and I just want to know why. Did I do something wrong? If I did you should tell me because God knows I never want to hurt you. You're scaring me, Marc. I want to help you but I can't because you won't let me in. You've never shut me out before. I don't know what it is you can't tell me or don't want to tell me but I want you to know that I will never treat you badly or hate you for anything. You mean too much to me. I would say you don't have to tell me but it's gone on for too long. You don't look well at all and you've been cutting everyone off. This can't go on much longer. If you can't tell me then you've got to tell someone."
Marc felt ashamed and he focused his eyes on the table. He never realized how much this could hurt Patrick. Patrick was right, this secret was changing how he dealt with other people but he was also afraid of how much the truth could hurt Patrick. Marc now knew the meaning of being caught between a rock and a hard place. What was he going to do? He had to make a choice.
Marc slowly brought his eyes up to meet Patrick's and nodded as he answered.
"Okay, I'll tell you but not here. Can you come over after school?"
Patrick nodded his head and said, "Let's concentrate on this lab."
Marc silently agreed and they began to work on their lab quietly. He could feel himself become tense as the class began to wind down. They began to clean up five minutes before the end of class and gathered their things to head home.
The walk home was not as silent as their final class. They talked about everything from classes to plans for spring break. However, no matter how much they spoke, Marc knew that his secret would not be a secret much longer and he was beside himself to hold a normal conversation.
When they arrived at Marc's house, Marc's mom greeted them.
"Hi boys, how was school," mom asked in her normally chipper voice.
"It was fine, mom," Marc answered as he gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Patrick and I are going to head up to my room."
"No problem. Patrick, are you staying for dinner?"
"I don't know, mom. Can I let you know later?"
Patrick and Marc had taken to calling each other's parents mom and dad. It's been that way for years and they couldn't remember when it actually started happening.
"Yes, you can let me know later. I don't mind. Have fun!"
Marc and Patrick grabbed some cookies that Marc's mom left on the table and they walked up the stairs to Marc's room. When they entered, Marc quietly shut the door behind them and locked it. This was not a conversation he wanted his mom to interrupt.
Patrick eyed him questioningly and went to sit down on the bed. Marc followed but then decided that he would rather sit on the desk chair. He grabbed the chair and sat backwards with his head resting on his arms as Patrick lay on his stomach and looked at him. They were both quiet for a moment when Patrick finally broke the ice.
"Okay Marc, I know that you know already but I just want to remind you that whatever we say in here stays in here. I want to help you through whatever you're going through but I need to know what it is or I can't do anything."
Marc nodded. He opened his mouth to speak but ended up just sighing. Patrick sat quietly waiting. Finally, Marc closed his eyes and a tear trickled down. When he opened them again he found Patrick watching him patiently and he began.
"I guess I've felt different for a while. I couldn't really place what it was and I didn't really give it much thought"that is, until the past few weeks. That's when I first met Tim."
"Tim? You mean the new kid Tim who just joined the baseball team?"
Patrick nodded and waited for Marc to continue.
"Well, there were things I started to notice about him right away and it kind of shocked me."
"What things," Patrick asked as he began to sit up on the bed.
"Well"," Marc began and he felt his palms begin to sweat. "Like his eyes. They were blue but almost violet. I thought they were amazing. I couldn't stop staring."
"That's true, that kid does have pretty cool eyes."
Marc nodded in agreement and then he went on.
"Then, I noticed his smile how it lit up his face and how his blond hair seemed to glow and how""
Marc was watching Patrick as he spoke and he could see that Patrick was beginning to get the picture but he wasn't fully grasping it yet. So Marc continued.
"Finally, when he started to walk towards me I realized that my heart was beating a mile a minute and I couldn't form any words. I wanted to get away but I wanted to be near him at the same time. I also felt something else. When I looked down I could see a wet spot forming on my jeans. I've never been so embarrassed in all my life. As soon as I saw it, I didn't even give him a chance to reach me, I just ran. That's never happened to me before and I didn't know what to think.
Ever since then, I've been thinking a lot. I've been trying to remember if that ever happened when I look at a girl and I couldn't recall. So, I've been doing research. I've looked at magazines, porn sites and other things but nothing gets me going except another guy and no one as much as Tim did that day."
Patrick watched Marc without any expression on his face for what seemed like an eternity but in actuality was only a couple of minutes.
Finally, Patrick spoke.
"Marc, are you trying to tell me that you're gay?"
Marc looked down, nodded and began to sob. Instantly, Patrick was by his side with his arms around him. Marc felt such a well of relief that Patrick hadn't rejected him that he began to cry even harder as he turned and cried into Patrick's shoulder. Patrick just held him until the tears abated and then he spoke to Marc while still holding him.
"Marc, I'm glad you told me. You don't have to go through this alone. I can see this is destroying you but you don't have to let it. I wish that this wasn't true and maybe it isn't but either way I will be there to support you."
"Thank you, Patrick. I can't begin to tell you how relieved I am. I am so scared. I don't know what to do next and for the past few weeks I've barely been able to function. I'm surprised my mom and dad haven't said anything yet."
"Actually," Patrick interrupted. "They have"we've all been concerned about you so we've been talking with each other since you wouldn't talk to any of us. They're just as concerned about you as I am, if not more."
"Oh," was all Marc could manage to say at the moment. He was beginning to realize just how much this was affecting everyone around him. "I can't tell them this right now. I know I'm not ready."
"You don't have to tell them, Marc. Not yet anyway. I will be here to help you for now. Are you certain about this?
"Then let's get you comfortable with it before we go telling anyone else. It won't do any good to tell your parents if you aren't comfortable with who you are first."
Marc contemplated that quietly in his mind and had to agree.
"You're right. You've already been a big help so far, Patrick. I think I can face this now with your help."
"Good. Let's head down and tell your mom that I'm staying for dinner. I don't want to miss any of her cooking. It's not good for my health."
Marc laughed and got up to follow Patrick downstairs.
I asked before what the consequences would be but this is not what I had in mind. I knew that this secret couldn't keep for long but the outcome of telling just one person was better than I ever expected it to be. It's easier when that person constantly shows you that they care about you no matter what. I would say that the consequence here was to gain an understanding about true friendship.
June 2005 by Birdie
List of All Short Stories