I woke up. It was dark. The bunk was uncomfortable. I needed somewhere else to sleep. Somewhere alone. Away from everyone else. I didn't belong there with the normal kids.
I got up and wrapped the blanket around myself and crept toward the door. I didn't really care if anyone saw me leave, as long as they left me alone. Greg and Kurt would be a problem, as there was no door on their room. The outside light above the door outlined it well enough to find in the dark, but couldn't throw any light into the inside of the cabin. The floor didn't squeak much, and I hoped that everyone was soundly asleep.
It was unlike me. I didn't sneak around. I didn't break the rules. I didn't do things like this. It was thrilling, though. As I approached the door, I knew I would be in full view of Greg and Kurt if they were awake or woke up. It was so naughty. And thrilling. Almost like...
I dropped the thought like a squirming pile of maggots.
I enjoyed escaping. The door wasn't silent, or ever meant to be, but by being so extremely slow and deliberate, it wasn't loud at all. There were plenty of other noises anyway. A couple dozen boys don't sleep silently.
I did it. And I enjoyed it. And once outside, I crept around the corner of the cabin, past the window near my bunk, around the next corner, and sat down somewhere before the next corner. It was mown for several feet before weeds and trees began. I could see a patch of stars overhead. It was quiet. Humid but not hot. And the bugs were out. I curled up, wrapped up well, and sighed a shuddering breath.
I almost stayed awake.
"Alex? You in there? You okay?"
I knew Holt's voice.
I sighed, then said, "Yes."
It answered all of his questions. I guess he hadn't expected that.
Or even realized it, still.
"You comin'? Or, should I just tell Greg where you are?"
"Is he looking?"
"He's asking. Not the first time a guy was gone early, so no big deal. Just, why are you back here?"
"Wanted fresh air. Why are you?"
"Oh. Okay. Shortcut. So, I'll tell him?"
"No, I will."
I groaned upward and uncovered. Light summer blankets do not make a good deterrent against mosquitoes and other insects. I stretched and scratched. Without my glasses, Holt was still cute, and was sitting down on the grass close enough that I didn't need them anyway. And he was still cute. The expression on his face was slightly worried.
"You feeling okay?"
I nodded and sighed deeply. I did feel okay, just not great. Or normal.
"You kinda got Greg a little worried, ya know? I think he thinks you might still be kinda wonky from that lightning."
"You really feeling okay?"
I didn't understand why he wanted to make so sure I was okay. It was a bit irritating and I wished he would leave me alone, even if it was the cute Holt. Instead of leaving, though, he sat down next to me.
"You look like you could use a beer or two and a blow-job."
He laughed, and his cute laugh made me grin a little despite the way I felt after his mentioning sex.
"Got about twenty minutes before the bus. Gonna take a shower?"
I nodded, still wondering why he bothered talking to me. It was nice that he was, as it was the first time he had spoken directly to me. Up close he was just as cute. His blue eyes were pale with some gray, his lips were dark and moist, and looked soft. The freckles hid the little bit of acne he had, and his features were pleasant. His emotions were easy to read as he sat there next to me, and I wondered why he looked so worried.
That warm, weird, wiggly feeling started up, and I needed to get away.
"I need a fucking shower and I guess I better get the day started."
He stood up before I got the blanket untangled from around my legs, and then held out his hand to help me up. I took it, and he hauled me to my feet. His hand was warm and slightly damp, and for a second or two, neither one of us let go. His eyes seemed to grow larger and larger, and his face seemed to fill my entire vision. Those wrong feelings grew even stronger and I needed to get away even more so. With simultaneous coughs, we released each other's hands and looked away.
"Come on," he said, and I followed him. I rolled up the blanket as we walked around the cabin. Greg and Kurt weren't inside, and I sighed in relief. Neither were James or Robert. Only a few were, and none I wanted to talk to, including the future classmates. Clean clothes and shower things, and I walked to the showers.
I tried, but I couldn't get clean. I was a freak, a faggot. How could I ever be clean?
Nevertheless, I dressed in clean clothes and walked out, not once noticing anyone or anything around me. Not until I ran into James and Robert on their way in.
"Alex!" James said loudly before I saw them.
I was sure I would have tried to avoid them if I had seen them first. Groaning inside, I nodded and dreaded the third degree.
Instead of stopping to grill me, they smiled and nodded as they passed and told me they'd see me back at the cabin. Glad it was delayed, I returned to my bunk. They returned barely in time for the bus. James was eager for his classes, and Robert was excited about the Astronomy assignment. I had been looking forward to it. It didn't seem to matter now.
Bus ride, breakfast, which smelled disgusting and turned my stomach, a few nods or hellos from a few future classmates. This week the cafeteria seating was relaxed and we were allowed to sit where we liked. Robert and I took our regular seats, joined by James, but Holt and his friend didn't sit across from us, and I was both glad and unhappy about that. Then classes, mostly the basics, and practice with note-taking, test-taking, and research. One class required I spend some time in the academy library doing research. Lunch, and Holt and his friend sat elsewhere again. I had an apple, and only because Robert had gotten it in the lunch line but no longer wanted it. Then the rest of the classes. We got our telescopes and assignments in Astronomy, and Robert was even more excited.
I had been looking forward to the assignment with Robert. Our team assignment would take two nights. He was planning on taking snacks and drinks and going where we could see the sky, set up the telescope, and making a night out of it.
Now, knowing for sure about myself, I no longer looked forward to it. But Robert sure did. I tried to make sure it seemed like I did. I didn't know why I pretended, other than it seemed like the appropriate response, as I didn't want to seem as if there were anything different about me since what hadn't happened in the woods hadn't happened also.
The last class was Outdoor Survival for a reason. On Friday afternoon, the entire class got together with all of our equipment, and walked from the academy into the woods for five miles to a cliff and canyon. There we would rig a way to cross the canyon. On the other side we would set up camp, then climb down the cliff face, cross the river at the bottom, then lunch. Then we would hike up the river a ways, climb back up and out, then back to cross the canyon again on our rigging to camp. Dinner, another night in our tents, then back to the cabins by noon.
I had been looking forward it. Now sort of. Not as much. Nothing would be as much fun ever again. Not now that I knew I was a real, sick, dirty homosexual.
I waited for the bus, and James and his twin buddies showed up first. James was all wound up about several things for several classes, and I found out about all of them. By the time he had found something else to talk about, Robert had joined me in silence. Our silence, that is. James continued around his greeting to Robert. The twins joined him, and the two of them spoke almost as much between them as James did. It was annoying, but I put up with it. Do nothing new. Nothing different. Be quiet. Get along.
"If you think enough you can figure anything," Robert said after James and the twins headed toward the bus ahead of us.
"Did I speak German?" he asked seriously, almost as if he wasn't sure. Then he squinted a bit, and asked again, but in German.
He hid the grin, mostly, but that only made it funnier, for some reason. I wasn't in the mood, but that didn't matter. I hid my grin, sort of. His widened a bit, so I knew I didn't stop it all.
"Gut oder schlecht?"
I shrugged and tried to look bored.
"Ja, sehr," I replied.
"Ah, so, absolut."
"Yes. Absolutely private."
I looked at him finally, and he nodded and smiled, but he looked sad or pained, like he was sitting on a sharp rock or a broken limb. He looked away and down at the lunch tray in front of him. I was glad to return my own gaze to the bare table in front of me.
I wondered how to live with myself now that I was gay. I didn't want everyone to know, but I didn't know how to keep it hidden, either. I had been used to thinking that I might end up being gay, but I had real hopes that I was just interested in guys to compare to how I was growing. It was nothing really sexual, just confusion, like they said could happen in health classes.
Not now. Now I knew. Now I'd done it. And I'd liked it. And deep down, I was glad I had. And deep down there, I wanted to do it some more.
I planned how to hide. How to act normal. Stay in the shadows, hidden, quiet. Ignored. Safe.
I wondered if it even mattered what I planned, or wanted. It seemed that things always went the opposite of what I tried. If I tried to be outgoing and make friends, I lost them.
If I tried to hide, I got pointed out. Even the lightning - I had tried to hide from it, but I ended up being hit by it and pointed even more than I could have possibly managed on my own.
If I tried to push the gay away, I found myself close up against some other boy. Robert in his bed, or in mine, or the naked twins in the woods. Or what also hadn't happened.
I figured the only way to not end up exposing myself as gay, was to try to expose myself as gay. That way, it would all go wrong, and no one would ever know I was gay.
It was perfect. All I had to do was jump Robert. Or James. Or maybe Holt. Rip off their clothes and try to do what I had done to Matty. If I tried to make sure everyone found out, no one would find out.
I wondered what I should do. I figured all I had to do was climb into Robert's bunk and start doing stuff to him. I'd gotten into his bunk one night, and he hadn't even woken up even though I had gotten out from under his body and his arm after he had rolled over onto me in his sleep. This time I would wake him up as I took off his boxers and did to him what I had done to Matty, and he would scream and tear me off of himself and I would be exposed.
If I planned on doing that, then something would go wrong, and no one would know I was gay.
That's how nature or God or the universe worked. Whatever I tried to do would work out exactly the opposite.
We saw James and the twins on the bus again, and this time they sort of sat with us, the three of them behind us. They hung around in the cabin for a while, then left together for their archery class. A little later, Robert asked if I wanted to go swimming with him. I said no, but thanks. He changed into his Speedos at his bunk. I didn't look, but I got very hard. I was sure no one could tell through my jeans, so I kept reading between very fast glances as I turned pages.
"Later," he said, walking off in his flip-flops with his towel.
"Bis spater," I returned without looking up from my book.
The last thing I wanted to do was see him walking away in his Speedos again.
I already knew what his perfect, round ass looked like in Speedos, I didn't need to see it again.
And I already had an erection just from knowing he was changing right there next to me, I did not need to make it worse by actually seeing him in his Speedos. I thought about finding a place to take care of business again, but I didn't think a faggot deserved the pleasure of jacking off. I decided I wouldn't do that again, not until I had to. I didn't deserve the relief. I wondered if a guy could go his whole life without masturbating.
I read until Robert came back for dinner. He changed and I kept reading. We went to dinner, and the seating was relaxed there as well, so I didn't see Holt again. I had juice, despite Robert's almost irritating attempt to convince me that the meal was great. James and the twins joined us. They were irrepressible as usual, and full of energy and fun. It almost rubbed off on me, and it probably could have if I had let it.
After dinner, we read and Robert swapped words with me. I didn't instigate once, but he kept going. I kept replying and offering tips. He went to the bathroom, took a while, and came back. No one seemed to notice. Most everyone was back by eight, Greg bringing in James and the last of the stragglers.
Two hours until lights out, and James seemed to talk during most of it. I always knew what he had done for the day before I went to sleep. I didn't really care, though sometimes something interesting happened. The twins sounded like they were as much fun as they had seemed to be that day Robert and I rescued them in the woods.
That thought started me thinking along those wrong lines again, and I shut it down and concentrated on Dune.
"Lights out, five minutes!"
I took off my glasses, put down my book, curled up with the blanket over my head, and waited to sleep and start another day of being in the shadows. Five days to go, then home. I thought about my new room. I wondered if I should really jump on Robert, or James, or someone, show them how gay I was. I thought that if I planned on doing so, something would happen the opposite, and no one would ever know.
"Lights out!" and darkness.
Then my bed shook as someone silently climbed into it. I started to sit up, but an arm went over me as they settled in behind me. I knew who it was, so I wasn't scared, much.
"Zo to make zhure you shtay im bett. Okay?" he whispered into my ear.
I nodded, but wasn't sure he could see. I thought he should be able tell by feel, though, his cheek up against the back of my head like that.
"Gut," he whispered, and then settled in closer to me. "I vake up early than everybody. Be im mein bett bevore dawn. No one see. Okay?"
I nodded again.
I snickered quietly despite my inner feelings of fear and horror, and the stirring wrong thoughts. I cut them off. Suddenly my breath was quicker, and my face and body felt warmer.
The more I try not to be gay, the gayer the situations get. No matter what I do, it goes backwards. The opposite. FUCK!
I wondered if I should do it. He was already in my bed, all I had to do was turn around and do it. Something. Kiss him. Anything. I wanted to do to him what I had done to Matty. And I wanted him to do it back. I knew if I turned around and kissed him and groped him down there, he would jump up, screaming, "Faggot" at me, or whatever the German word for it was, then everyone would know. Except something would go wrong, because it was my plan and nature or God or the universe, something, hated it when my plans went my way.
I didn't have the guts. And him holding me, and being there next to me, felt too good to stop.
Gawd. Why is it so nice? Is this the same as being gay? He can't mean it that way, he's just keeping me in the bed so I don't sneak away again. Stupid to go outside. I wasn't awake, and just wanted to get away. I remember that. Almost like a dream, but I remember going outside. I remember passing my window, where the lightning had followed the wooden pole that the electrical lines came down from, and then along half the building and through the wall into Greg's office.
And the charred electrical box. And just enough made it through the outlets that anyone near one could feel it. And I was right there, huddled up in front of the outlet, just inches away, maybe even in contact with it. And just a foot away, outside, the pole that held up the wires the lightning had come down.
And I had never heard a thing. Not even the crack before the thunder. And I didn't remember seeing the flash of the lightning. I could still hear that faint ringing, though. Though it no longer seemed to be in my ears. It never went away, and I was learning to ignore it.
I wished the gay would be the same way, and just go away. Or at least become easy to ignore.
But it wasn't, especially not with Robert tucked up behind me, his arm over my shoulder and his hand now against my chest.
I knew he could feel my heart beating far too quickly, and my speeding breaths.
It got hard, and it stayed hard, and I fought the thoughts and feelings and images, but they kept coming. His every breath down my neck reminded me that he was there, as if his body's contact against the other side of the blanket wasn't enough to do so. Nor his arm over me and his hand on my chest. Nor the heat of his body.
I took slow control over my breath, and that concentration kept the images away. I fell into my body and convinced it that there was no need for anything but sleep mode. Power down. Ease back and go to sleep.
I don't know how long it took, but I forgot about Robert, and being gay, and everything else, and sunk away into darkness and nothing.