On Sunday, I packed a case, chose a book to take with me, and masturbated as often as I could. By afternoon I was moody and unable to eat much of the excellent lunch that Mom prepared. I felt bad for not eating, but I wasn't hungry. Mom and Dad tried to cheer me up, and kept telling me about all the opportunities I was about to have.
The only opportunity I cared about was the opportunity to either learn how to repress the gay, or to crush it out of myself. Or, at the very least, learn how to get along in the shadows, unnoticed and ignored; alone.
My guts curdled worse the later it got. I almost wished I was the type to stomp my foot and demand my own way, and get it. I thought about trying, anyway. I couldn't. I wasn't the type, and I simply didn't know how. Not to mention that even thinking of carrying on like that made me feel embarrassed.
Late in the afternoon, I left my new rooms, upstairs and down. They would change before I got back, but then, I knew that I would, too. At least, I hoped to change. I watched my new home get smaller and smaller as I left everything that I knew behind - except for one suitcase, a week's worth of clothes, a book, and my fears and worries.
Far too soon, I was saying goodbye to my parents in front of that big log cabin. A station wagon was dropping off two girls as we pulled up. I told Dad that I could carry the suitcase on my own, and I would be okay. He gave me a hug, and it wasn't so bad, but Mom's was embarrassing. There weren't a lot of kids out and around, but even one was enough. I didn't cry as they pulled away, but I knew that I could if I let myself.
I felt small, and alone, and scared as I walked down the sloping dirt road and into trees around the cabins by the lake, the sun beginning to set across the placid water, sending red rays through the trees.
I almost couldn't find the right cabin. There were lights above the doors, where numbers were painted, and without those, I wouldn't have known one from another. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to knock or not, but before I stopped at the door, I decided I would just open it. Inside, there were some guys sitting alone, some in groups, and it was hard to tell what bunks were taken for sure.
I had that first-day-at-school feeling, only worse. I tried not to look nervous, but I had no idea how to do so. I shook my shoulders out and tried to put on a cool, calm face.
Looking now into the bathroom there by the front door, I remembered that the showers were behind the main building. It hadn't really mattered until then. Neither had that the toilets were open and would be embarrassing to use. Nor had which bed I would claim.
Greg, my leader, was in his room by the door, across from the bathroom. Greg shared the little room with another guy about his age, but with black hair and darker skin, and an even bigger smile. Greg hopped up and walked out to greet me. He remembered my name, and introduced me to Kurt, the leader of the boys on the left side of the room. Greg handed me a key with a large, wooden fob almost too big for my pocket, and led me to one of the beds on the right near the back. He told James and Robert to see that I knew what was up, and he would be back in a while to talk to everyone.
James was on one side of me, toward the rest of the room, Robert on the other, in the last bunk and in the corner. There was a little more room between Robert's bunk and mine than there were between the others, as both of our little dressers sat side-by-side between them, his bunk against the wall. It was the same on the other side of the aisle, but there the last bunk was empty.
James nodded and seemed really friendly, but Robert barely acknowledged my existence and turned back to his book.
"I'm James. Like, duh. But, I guess, welcome. Gonna be here the rest of the summer?"
"Two weeks," I said solemnly.
"Short-timer, huh? Lots are. I'm staying all summer, but I'm going to the academy in the fall, though."
I nodded and tried to feel comfortable as I sat on the strange little bed, James sitting on the edge of his behind me, chatting endlessly it seemed, so long as I nodded from time to time. I sat facing Robert's bunk, as there was more room between his bunk and mine than mine and James'.
The little table by my bed was all mine, and its four drawers my only private space. Other than my suitcase, which I saw most guys threw under their bunks.
I stood as I unpacked, turning from the dresser to the bunk, so I glanced around. There were all types of guys in the cabin. I had wondered how I would feel in a room full of strange guys. Other than school, which had happened before what hadn't happened had happened, this was a whole new situation to me. Even then, it had been only for part of the day, never at - or all - night, and they all had been mostly the same kids each year. Except sixth grade, and then I still had known most (i.e. been picked on by some) of the older boys for most of my life. This was an all new place, filled with all new people, just as high school was going to be; and I was a whole different person now. At least, I wanted to be.
While I unpacked and glanced around, I wondered if any of the other boys were fighting off being gay, too. And I wondered how well they were doing. And how well I would do. I worried that I couldn't put the gay away. I worried that someone there would be able to read my mind, or see my gayness, even if I didn't do anything to reveal it. I imagined all kinds of horrible situations. The other campers would start pointing and laughing at me, calling me a faggot. Or they would tie me up out in the woods, naked, and leave me there. Or maybe some of the biggest kids would surround me and start beating me into a pulp, yelling "Faggot," and "Queer," and other words at me, making the whole camp aware that there was a raging homo among them.
I fought down those fears time and again as I tried to seem normal and comfortable in the strange place filled with strangers. If I didn't let myself think that way, I wouldn't be that way, it was so simple. I could put the gay away. Being around other guys at the camp should help me get that gay out before I got to high school, I hoped.
Greg came out and gave us his big speech. He obviously took part in the activities, as he was very slim and fit. He said that we were the lucky few who got to experience high school before high school. He and others were there to help us adjust to the different life of high school, and beyond. Several prominent high schools around Chicago took part in preparing their future freshmen for even higher educations. We were told that we would see others in this room at our high schools in the fall. Not all of them, but maybe a few.
As Greg spoke, I learned that high school wouldn't be all that different. I already had moved from room to room throughout the day. I already had dealt with multiple floors, and multiple teachers. I already had dealt with being graded without a curve, doing homework for multiple classes, and choosing elective classes. I'd already changed and showered for gym. That was all standard from seventh and eighth grades.
I learned that it wasn't all that standard at most junior high schools. I learned that most of the guys there had never before changed classrooms or teachers throughout their school day. Most also had never changed, let alone showered in front of others. We would be doing all of those things for our stay there, as if we were in high school. Including the showers. I heard the hushed, whispered groans.
Greg said we were there to become prepared to attend exceptional schools. That got me wondering if my parents had moved to where they had when I first started school so that I would end up in what it became apparent that evening was an advanced middle school. Perhaps even the grade school had been above average, I considered. Then they had moved again, only to ensure that I went to a high school ranked top in the state in several categories.
And here I was, attending a preparatory class for exceptional high schools.
Who the fuck am I? I wondered.
Our weekdays would start at seven with calisthenics. Then showers, then off to the main cabin to take a bus to the academy. The bus ride would be new to me, though very short. We could also opt to walk the nearly one mile. We would have breakfast there, then attend several classes, each in a different room with a different teacher on a different topic. We would choose those topics tomorrow. These classes would teach things common to ninth-grade classes, as well as study and work habits and methods. Lunch was at noon, then more classes, then at three we would ride the bus back to the main log cabin. Each class had a project or assignment that would be due in two weeks. For the long-timers staying all summer it was familiar, just a new project or assignment. For us short-timers, it was the only one. We could have limited access to the main building until eight, but had to ride the bus back to the cabins then, or have already checked in at the cabins by foot.
Open swimming in the pool and the lake was allowed until dinner time at six, then no swimming afterward. We were free to explore the rest of the camp and take advantage of the activities and organized sports until dinner at the main log cabin. After dinner there were group activities and other things to do until eight. Then we were to be in our cabins where we could do as we pleased until lights-out at ten.
Weekends, we were free to do whatever we wanted, and there was a schedule of things to do all the time. Breakfast was in the main cabin from eight until ten, then limited items until lunch at one, then back to limited items at three until dinner at six, and some very limited items would be available until eight. The weekends were dedicated to welcoming new enrollees, prospective campers, and their parents, and we would be busy with projects and events for them all over the compound.
We were to take part, have fun, learn things, and think about our futures and what we wanted to do with them. High school would let us choose what we wanted to study, and since we couldn't take all of the classes, this camp meant to help us discover what we wanted to take as elective courses in our high schools, and to know what to expect as we attended them in the fall. And to train us in study and research techniques. And to ready us for the different kind of schooling we were going to experience for the next four years, at least. Some of the camp attendees would be taking eight more years of schooling. Some even longer.
And now that it was just after eight, we had almost two hours to settle in before lights-out.
James talked constantly, and I learned that the main, massive, ornate building was a preparatory academy and high school for the really rich. Most of the students were gone for the summer when the log building and cabins were used as a summer camp.
The camp would last all summer, and there had been other short-time groups through already. You could stay for just a couple of weeks, a month, two, or even all summer.
James had been there since the first week, a month ago, and was staying to go to the preparatory academy in the fall. He would be there for one year, then go to high school, instead of a junior high school for two years. He would be a year ahead of other high school freshmen, and better prepared by far, he bragged.
Most of the kids looked to be pretty rich. Their clothes were all expensive, and they had the look. James dressed like the rest of them, but didn't look like them. Robert was dressed like me: Our jeans were Levi or Wrangler, our shirts didn't have names or embroidery, and our shoes would squeak on a basketball court.
James was one of the few who had been there before anyone else, along with Robert and two others on this side of the room. And Greg, our leader - who, James said, was going to Roosevelt University downtown and had been a student at the academy.
I put a few things into the top drawer, which locked, and my underwear and socks in the second drawer. Shirts in the third, and jeans in the bottom. James informed me that I should put my underwear in the locking drawer. Socks, too, maybe. He said a lot of underwear had come up missing the last month, some for fun and sport.
I laughed, said thanks, and followed his advice. It was horribly embarrassing for someone else to see my underwear. I wondered why. I wasn't in them or anything. They were just cloth. Nevertheless, the idea that James had seen my underwear, let alone seen me actually touching them, was horrific.
Robert never talked, just read. He used the bathroom once, otherwise never moved.
James was open, friendly, bubbly, and talkative. He had black-rimmed glasses, curly, unruly, black hair, and was a bit soft and rounded. His small mouth had large, soft lips. He was just a little shorter than me, about my age, and probably a few pounds heavier.
Robert was taller than me, not that unusual, and looked to be more than a year older than me. He looked like he could be in high school already. His blond hair was cut in a strange way, and was short, wavy, and uncombed. His eyes were a deep brown under almost invisible brows. His lips were nearly nonexistent. He wasn't skinny, but he didn't seem to have any extra weight on him anywhere. His face was smooth and lean, as were his limbs, and his features were surely Northern European. He sat on his bunk in his jeans, shirtless in the warm evening. He had slightly large, slightly dark nipples. His chest muscles were more than a kid's, but less than developed.
I was mid-way through thirteen, and could easily pass for fourteen, or even a smallish fifteen, thanks to early puberty. I doubted anyone there would believe I was about a year younger than most of them. Some kids I had seen around during the day were obviously even younger than me, puberty or not, but everyone in the cabin were all going into ninth grade, or heading to the academy's high school preparatory classes for junior high school students in the fall.
There were boys there representing every type. Tall, muscular, and lean, to short, round, and wide. Blond, white-haired, sandy blond, dark blond, browns of all shades, even black. But most interesting, red. One boy, slim, narrow, slight, and pale, and with real, red hair. And of course, as I was trying not to be so gay, the red-head was assigned the bunk across from mine. I couldn't wait to see him in the showers. I wondered why I liked guys with red hair so much. Then I wondered why I had to like guys.
I had wondered how I would react to a room full of guys, and if I could put away the gayness. I began to doubt it.
Greg announced ten minutes to lights-out. Some of the guys got out of their pants. I really began to doubt I could put away the gayness. I looked casually around the room, almost sure I was turning into a gay: that was why what hadn't happened had happened. And now I was surrounded by guys, some getting undressed, some standing around in shorts and no shirts, others in nothing but boxers or briefs, all as if they had no idea what those sights did to me.
Some kids put on pajamas, though few. Some put on sweatpants that had the legs cut off and were made into sweatshorts, while others wore swim trunks or sports shorts. Some got into bed wearing their pants. A few, though, slept in their boxers or briefs.
Seeing as how several stayed in their jeans as they crawled into bed, I did too, not even removing my shirt as I lay down on my front. James didn't. He dropped his jeans, laid them on his little dresser, then took off his shirt. I tried not to look while he got into bed in his tighty-whities. It was too hot to cover up, so he didn't, and just lay there on his stomach, hugging his pillow, ready to fall asleep. His butt curved upward noticeably, and I felt things stirring at the sight.
Not wanting to stare, or even see such a thing, I turned my head the other way.
Robert had removed his jeans too, and wore slightly tight, blue, soft cloth boxers that bulged and wiggled nicely in front as he put his jeans on his dresser and turned toward his bed. The fly was fastened with three small snaps. The soft material hugged his round butt cheeks as he climbed into his bed, onto his back.
Things started seriously happening in my lap. If I hadn't been on my front, I was sure someone could tell. I put my face into my pillow and willed the gay away.
When Greg told us to get a good night of rest for tomorrow and turned out the lights, I waited for sleep. It eventually came, but not after what seemed to be hours of worries and fears about the next two weeks, and then only once my lap had returned to normal. I hoped that I got through the next two weeks without turning in to a raging homosexual, without anyone knowing I had been, and that no one ever figured out what hadn't happened. I hoped that my new bedroom was worth it, even if I managed all my goals and the two weeks went by without event.