So the thing is, sometimes I get these thoughts.
I didn’t worry too much at first. I spent pretty much my entire 13th year hard, after all, and had really inappropriate sex thoughts about almost everyone…my teachers, Dawn’s friends, random people at the beach, most of the girls at my school, and, once, a horrifying dream about Carol. But I took sex-ed, and they’re all, “Everyone has strange thoughts” and “don’t worry about it” and “this is a time to discover who you are.” And, hey, I grew out of it. I haven’t had to try and secretly change my sheets in years.
But still. Sometimes.
Everything will be going fine, right, hanging with the guys, watching T.V., whatever. Normal. And then I’ll look down and see Byron tracing a pattern in the carpet with his finger and I’ll have this thought, BAM, urge to just grab his hand between mine and not let it go. I mean, that’s so gay. It’s not even, like, a decent fantasy, just this crazy, girly, empty feeling in my palm and the weird knowledge that Byron’s hand would just fit.
Or, the other day, we’re all down by the pool, you know? And Byron grabs a popsicle because it’s fucking hot, even in Stoneybrook. I don’t think anything of it, I’m just trying to watch Vanessa in her tiny little bikini without her brothers catching on, when I look over and Byron’s got the popsicle, like, three quarters in his mouth and starts to suck, and all of a sudden I’m hard as a fucking rock. I try to look everywhere but him, but my eyes keep darting back, and it’s ten minutes before I’m decent enough to get up and jump back in the pool, even with my baggy swim trunks.
And I’m not gay, okay, I’m not. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m into girls. I can show you my porn collection if you don’t believe me. I don’t know, it’s like some fluke. Some Byron thing. Maybe it’s ‘cus he keeps his hair long now, or because he’s so, like, sensitive and stuff. Like a chick. So my dick is just a little confused.
And the thing is, I don’t know who to talk to about it. If it was anything else, some other big personal crisis, I’d ask Byron. Because while my California friends are great, and Adam and Jordon make Stoneybrook a little less like hell, Byron’s the only guy I know who’ll listen to all my emotional shit without making me feel like a pussy. But it’s not like I can go up him and say, “Dude, I kind of want to kiss you. Any advice?” He would probably be totally cool about it, too. I bet we would still be friends…different friends, sure, because no matter how chill a straight guy is, he’s still gonna back off when he finds out his friend is checking him out. But Byron’s not the kind of guy to freak out, you know?
But the thing that does it, the icing on my fucked up little cake, is when I’m making out with Vanessa--don’t look at me like that, she’s fifteen and adorable and not nearly as annoying as she used to be. So we’re kissing, right, it’s cool and a little sloppy, lots of tongue from a girl who hasn’t really figured out what to do with it yet, and I close my eyes and she makes a little sound and I say, “Byron.”
My eyes pop open and so do hers and she pulls away and I start trying to figure out the most painless way of committing suicide. My mind goes blank when I try to think of an explanation, but luckily, Vanessa comes up with one for me.
“Omigod!” she squeaks. “My brother saw us?”
“Um,” I said. “I. Well. I, uh, think I saw him?”
She’s not even paying attention to me, just smoothing down her shirt and pushing her hair back. “Look, Jeff,” she starts.
“This was probably really stupid,” I finish.
She grins. “But, like, totally cool, yeah?”
I nod. I’m hoping I don’t throw up on her shoes.
“I’ll see you later,” she says, with a little pat on my cheek, and then she’s gone and I’m trying to decide between a bottle of pills and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Okay. So maybe I’m a little gay.
I’m so screwed.
I open my mouth to tell Byron goodbye but I kiss him instead.
Like, on the lips.
And I don’t stop, even when Byron goes “mmmph!” and I realize that yes, holy fuck, I’ve just kissed my best friend on the lips in a totally gay way. Even in one of those weird European countries where guys go around kissing each other, they would be like, “whoa, that’s really, really gay.”
Byron’s lips are warm and dry. A little chapped. I’ve never felt anything so right in my life. I’ve never kissed anyone taller than me before, either, so it takes a second to adjust and that’s when I realize he’s kissing me back. And I’m not really sure what happens next, except he gets a hand in my hair and I back him against my bedroom wall and he fits, against me, just like I thought he would, like he was a missing puzzle piece.
He’s better with his tongue than his sister, and I kind of want to kill whoever he’s been practicing with. He’s also moving against me, kind of soft, you know, but he works a leg between mine and I’m about ten seconds away from humping him when he puts his hands on my chest and shoves.
I stumble back and blink at him. His lips are red, and he’s got a flush spreading from his cheeks down his neck. It’s really, really hot, and I have to close my eyes, because if I keep looking at him, I wouldn’t be able to keep from going back for that mouth.
“What…the hell…was that?” Byron asks slowly.
“I’m sorry,” I say. My bedroom door is open, and I realize anyone could have walked by. I don’t know whether to shut it or not.
Byron’s looking at me and I kind of feel like an amoeba under a microscope. “You’re straight,” he says, and it’s not really a question, but I answer anyway.
“Yeah,” I say. “Well. Mostly.”
“Mostly,” he repeats.
“I might be a little bit bisexual?”
“A…a little bit bisexual.”
He stares at me, biting his lip. He looks like he’s going to laugh, or, at least, I hope he’s going to laugh, because that would be better than him, like punching me or something.
“You kissed me back,” I point out.
He rolls his eyes. “Well, I’m a lot homosexual,” he answers.
“Dude, you’re gay?” I blurt out.
“You kissed me,” he says.
“I…hold on a second.” I blink a couple times, pinch myself to make sure it’s all really happening, because I feel like I’ve fallen into bizzaro world. Ten minutes ago, I was mostly straight. Ten minutes ago, I had a straight best friend that I’d never kissed.
“So, um, I’m not in some weird alternate universe, right?” I ask.
“I don’t think so,” Byron answers.
We stare at each other for a couple minutes, and I can’t really read Byron’s face, but I’m pretty sure he can read everything on mine, except I think I surprised him with the whole kiss thing today, so apparently I’m not broadcasting all my Byron-thoughts on a frequency he can pick up. Speaking of which…
“Aren’t you supposed to have gaydar?” I ask. “We could have done this months ago.”
“Maybe it doesn’t work on bisexuals,” he snaps back, and I think, “whoa, two points for Byron” and then I remember that I’m supposed to be getting on plane for California in 16 hours, and for the first time in years, I don’t want to go.
I step closer to him. “Are you cool with this?” I ask, waving a hand between our bodies.
He thinks about it for a second. “Yeah,” he says.
I reach over and lock the door, because I’ve got 16 hours and I’m not going to waste them.