Greg's alarm clock. I snapped awake and my whole body jerked. I didn't feel Robert against me, and when I rolled over, he was in his own bed, covers over his head as usual.
I sighed deeply, then inhaled even more deeply. I held it, then exhaled slowly, relaxing.
I'm gay. He don't hate me. He doesn't know. No one knows. Just be normal. Ha! Just seem to be as normal as you can. That I can do, I guess.
Tuesday was just like Monday, except we had to take our packs with us to Outdoor Survival. The bus was cramped and crowded with so many huge packs. Breakfast with Robert, and James and the twins gibbering about projects and assignments until they set off for classes. No Holt. I had to spend at least an hour or so I guessed in the library there at the academy to research local geology for that class. Lunch was good, as usual, and James and the twins were absent. Robert and I enjoyed a quiet lunch alone, and I actually ate something.
In astronomy, we learned a bit more about stars and what they were, and Robert and I finished the layout for the data sheet for our assignment.
In Outdoor Survival, we were shown how to set up our tents. They were small, but easy to set up. They looked like Boy Scout or Army rejects, but they were big enough to get in with your pack, sleeping bag and stuff, and have room to turn around and be comfortable.
Taking them down and packing them back up was the challenge. I barely got it done before the teacher told us to go wherever we got off to when he was no longer responsible for us and then turned and walked back toward the building. Just then the bells rang.
"Oh, dude, is he plugged into the school, like a robot or something?" one kid asked jokingly after the teacher had been walking away a bit.
"That was creepy," another agreed.
His arms were crossed, and he glanced at his watch. He keeps it in time with the school. You idiots. Or they weren't looking at him as he talked to us. Idiots. You got to keep your eyes open, never know what you'll see. Guess not everyone knows that.
I shrugged it off, and my pack better onto my shoulders, then walked toward the building. I stopped, then figured I should get used to the pack, or at least, see if I could carry it a mile before I had to carry it five miles on Friday then five miles back on Sunday.
I turned and walked the other way toward the cabins.
I have to let Greg know I won't be on the bus, first. And Robert and James, if they care. I turned around and walked the much shorter distance to the buses still at the academy. Greg said fine, and thanks for letting him know. I checked in with Robert, and James wasn't at the table. I thought of the research, and decided to do that, then head to the cabins. Robert offered to go to the library with me, but I told him it would be boring, and I had to read research books and take notes. He offered to help, and we'd get twice as much research done. I couldn't argue with that, so I sighed and agreed.
In fact, Robert was invaluable. We found out tons of information, and I had more than enough to write a 500-word paper. We walked to the cabins, talking about the geology data and how I could arrange it for the report. I had my pack back under my bed and the report nearly done before James bounded in with the others.
"Walk back?" James asked, and before waiting for me to reply went on about how it was a good idea to see if could carry the pack as far as I needed to on the big hike.
I finally got to say, "Yeah. We set up our tents outside and got released from out there. And since I have to carry it for ten miles on that hike, might as well see if I could carry it one mile first."
Survived, huh?" he asked.
"No problem. I ride a bike a lot. All I do, really."
James went on about bikes, and hiking, and then other things until he headed off to archery.
"Ready for vanderung?" Robert asked once James had gone.
"So, you go on hike?"
I nodded. I needed to say more to seem normal, but I didn't feel like it. It took too much energy to pretend to care.
"Geht's dir gut?"
"I feel fine. Mich gut."
He corrected me. I responded. I fell into our word game and read Dune until Robert went to his swim class. Of course, first he had to change bunk-side and test my ability to concentrate solely on the words in front of me.
Be normal. All is normal. Except me. But if I pretend I am, I might get by.
Robert returned, dried off, changed, and then we went to dinner, which was excellent, and I even enjoyed it a bit. James and the twins talked almost constantly, and I wondered how they actually got their food eaten. They did, though. Robert and I were quiet, but that was normal. As soon as they had finished eating, James went off with the twins.
Back at the cabin, more reading and more word swapping with Robert. At one point, Robert moved to sit on the edge of his bunk, facing me, his book on his knees and his face in his hands. It was hard to tell he was talking, but I could just hear him.
"Are you okay?"
What clues was I giving off that I could find out about, and stop giving off, I wondered.
"You are quiet. More. Seem sad. Since die voods and you lost."
"Since I got lost in the woods," I corrected him, then wondered why I had.
Idiot, I thought to myself.
"You vant to go, somevere, und talk?"
About what? Being a faggot? I'm not telling you what didn't happen out there in the woods. Not because Matty and Dan didn't want me to, either. I'll never tell about that, to anyone, ever. Well, maybe someday, I thought. A long time from now, when I'm old and a black man becomes president.
"Are you sure. And, yes, I'm sure."
He scooted back and sat against his headboard again, and read in his usual position. I did too. I saw nearly every one of the six boys in the cabin take turns going to the bathroom. Four took a long time, and no one seemed to notice, or care. I considered it. I didn't have the guts, and I didn't deserve the pleasure.
Robert and I traded words, James returned, talked a lot, and Robert and I continued to read and sometimes swap words.
I used the bathroom, but quickly.
Greg announced lights out in ten minutes.
I considered and decided to do it. It meant doing something totally gay, and something I wanted to do, so I might as well enjoy it. It might be the only one. Besides the one that hadn't happened. When the first one hadn't happened, I had lost my best friend. And because of it, all my friends. And everyone I had known for all of my life.
Doing this could ruin me. But nature, fate, God, or whatever, wouldn't let my plan go through. Whatever I tried to do to show everyone I was a faggot would turn around and prevent anyone from finding out.
When Robert jumped into my bed, I would turn around and kiss him and grab his stuff and start rubbing it. It would be the only time I would ever get to feel another boy's stuff on purpose like that. He would jump back out of my bed, scream, "Faggot," and everyone would know. But it would all go wrong, and no one would know, I was sure. I hoped.
My heart hammered. I swore that I would do it. I promised myself. Nervous tremors started running through me.
At least I'll get to feel what a boy feels like down there. I'll get a good handful of his cock and his balls and have a real good feel around as much as I can before he leaps out of the bunk and my life comes to an end.
When Greg called, "Lights out," and the room went dark, I spun over to face Robert as he got into my bunk, and waited.
I almost looked forward to feeling what a cock and balls felt like when you really grabbed them and felt them, instead of just having a little boys balls on the back of my hand.
I waited. My eyes adjusted to the dark and still no Robert in my bed.
The best laid schemes of mice and men, and faggots. Grief and pain, and lost promised joys.
I dropped down an emotional well, and soon into a dark sleep.