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When You Knew

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FROM: hourtohour.notetonote@gmail.com
TO: bluegreen118@gmail.com
DATE: Oct 17 at 7:09 AM
SUBJECT: when you knew

So I’m curious, then. When did you know you were gay? Did you have one big Oh Shit moment or was it a lot of little things that all added up to one rainbow flag?

Jacques

FROM: bluegreen118@gmail.com
TO: hourtohour.notetonote@gmail.com
DATE: Oct 17 at 7:41 AM
SUBJECT: Re: when you knew

The first one.

It was at my dad’s wedding and I was twelve. Did you ever have those obsessions with a guy where you thought they were just the coolest and you wanted to constantly be around them until it’s years later and you realize, oh, it was because I had a crush on him?

It was kind of like that. First, I want you to know how badly I’m cringing as I write this to you, so keep that in mind while you enjoy this story.

My dad got remarried when I was twelve, and my stepmother’s entire family was there, naturally. I spent most of my dad’s wedding (of which I was an honorary groomsman) and reception following my stepmother’s cousin around trying to make him laugh with my weird twelve year old middle schooler sense of humor. I made farting noises, repeated his own jokes back to him, etc. The epitome of romance, I know.

Looking back it was so obvious that he wanted nothing to do with me. I remember being so jealous when he started dancing with one of my dad’s (female) friends from work. I think I spent an hour on the side of the dance floor staring at him. Then something in my brain clicked and my gut just sank, and I don’t know if it was the combination of jealousy and sugar from the cake but I remember going to my room at my dad’s place and pretending I was sick until my mom came and picked me up the next day.

Yes, you can laugh. What about you?

Blue

*

Bram jumped when the bell signaling the end of AP Chemistry rang. Martin shimmied out from the seat next to him and made a beeline for the door. Bram shook his head; Martin was an okay lab partner, but sometimes he reached levels of weirdness that Bram couldn’t deal with. He started to pack up his things while the rest of the class hurried out for lunch. He shut his notebook - not nearly filled enough for the test scheduled for later that week - and put it into his backpack.

He was distracted by a boy whose name he didn’t know.

It’d been two months since Bram posted on Creeksecrets about being gay, and a little less than that since he first sent an email to Jacques. For the first few weeks, Bram was hesitant and careful with what he told Jacques; he shared small things like how he hated football and that junior year seemed to get tougher every day, but avoided anything that would lead Jacques to figuring out his real identity. He felt like an actual superhero with a secret identity, a fake name, and an actual person that was interested in getting to know him.

The email he wrote to Jacques that morning was his most personal to date. Every time he let things slip to Jacques, he worried that it would be the reason for Jacques figuring out who he really was. Like his post and all of his emails said, he wasn’t ready to come out. He really hoped that Jacques would get a kick out of his middle school horror story, but he hoped it wasn’t enough to connect Blue as Bram Greenfeld with a remarried dad.

It was still surreal to him that there was someone else at his school who was in the closet just like him. His post on the Tumblr wasn’t just about being gay; it was about loneliness, and about feeling like he couldn’t be open to anyone around him. No one in his real life knew that he was gay; he didn’t talk about it with his mom, or Garrett, or anyone before Jacques came along. Theoretically, he knew both of them would be okay with it. His dad as well. His mom was logical and Garrett hated all of the football players who bullied out students. But actually saying the words aloud to someone standing in front of him was different than typing them to Jacques.

Even though Garrett constantly talked to him about girls he thought were hot, it didn’t mean that he would be okay listening to Bram do the same with cute boys.

Speaking of.

Bram looked pointedly at his locker. Nick and Simon were standing in front of Nick’s locker, just down the hall. When Bram told Jacques about having crushes at school, he always had to double check his emails to make sure he didn’t say Simon’s name in any of them.

After all, Simon Spier was the one he was always referring to.

Bram put his English and chemistry books in his locker and traded them out for algebra and history. Simon’s bright laughter drifted down the hall, and Bram smiled to himself. Simon was the guy that always rendered him speechless. He double checked that his algebra assignment was still tucked in his book before putting it into his backpack and shutting his locker.

When Bram looked up, Nick and Simon were right in front of him.

“Greenfeld, what’s up?” Nick said, to Bram’s surprise.

His eyes flicked over to Simon, before Bram said, “Uh, hey guys.” Simon seemed to be distracted by his phone, which Bram didn’t really understand because the cell phone service was usually terrible. Bram looked back to Nick. “What’s up?”

Nick and Simon started walking with him towards the cafeteria, and Nick waited until Simon put his headphones in before speaking.

“So, I was wondering... if it would be cool if I switched spots with you at lunch?”

Vaguely, Bram knew that Nick was waiting for an answer, but Simon’s music started up and Bram could hear it through his headphones. It started out a soft sounding acoustic guitar, which surprised Bram coming from Simon. It occurred to him that Simon usually had headphones in, but never really talked about what kind of music he liked.

“Yeah, um, sure,” Bram said to Nick. The seats at their table weren’t assigned anyway, so Bram wasn’t really sure why Nick was even asking. As long as he was by Garrett, and Morgan and Anna were by Leah, everyone else usually just filled in around them.

Once they got to the cafeteria, Nick and Simon headed towards the table. Bram broke away from them to join Garrett in the lunch line. He bumped his fist against Garrett’s, and Garrett dug his phone out of his pocket.

“Did you see the Tumblr today?” he asked, and before Bram could answer, he said, “I know you didn’t, so here.”

They took slow steps through the line while Bram looked at the post Garrett was referring to. It was made by Garrett himself, and it had his address with a time and date for his Halloween party. Apparently that rule about posting your address on the internet didn’t apply to Garrett. Now that they were juniors, according to Garrett, they needed to start hosting parties instead of just attending them.

“You spelled costume wrong,” Bram said, handing his phone back to him. Garrett’s eyes went wide and he yanked his phone out of Bram’s hand. “Don’t forget to wear a consume.” He laughed. “How did you miss that?”

Garrett made an aggravated noise. “I was posting it in history and Ms. Dillinger kept giving me the look. God dammit.”

“So maybe next time don’t post on the Tumblr in class?” Bram suggested, grinning when Garrett rolled his eyes.

“Brinkley and Farmer were talking about the football team’s party and I wanted to make sure ours was out there first.” Garrett grabbed two trays and handed one of them to Bram. “You are going to be there, right? I swear to Jesus, if you bail on me again, Greenfeld...”

“I’ll try,” Bram said snagging the last sad looking cup of fruit. “I don’t know my mom’s work schedule yet.”

Garrett grabbed one of the paper plates filled with macaroni noodles smothered in a messy looking cheese sauce. He could almost feel Starr’s cringe. When their trays were full, they got in line at the little checkout. Garrett looked at him.

“I’ll try,” Bram said again.

Garrett grinned. “That’s all I ask.”

The woman at the register scanned both of their ID cards, and they both left the lunch line.

“Do you think anyone else is going to notice?” Garrett asked as they walked to their table. He had his tray balanced on one hand and his phone in the other. “Should I make another post?”

Bram didn’t answer Garrett. Nick’s question on their way to the cafeteria suddenly made sense.

He and Garrett were the only two that weren’t at their lunch table. There were seats for them open, but his usual spot next next to Abby was now taken by Nick.

Which meant Bram was supposed to take Nick’s seat, right next to Simon.

He panicked. If he walked ahead and stole Garrett’s spot, Garrett would definitely know something was up. He wasn’t observant enough to catch spelling mistakes in his posts online, but if Bram suddenly took the spot he’d been sitting in since August, Garrett would definitely say something. He had to calm down, so he started walking slower to delay getting to the table.

Unfortunately, Garrett didn’t slow down.

Garrett’s shoulder hardly even grazed Bram’s, but it was enough to knock his tray off from where it balanced on his hand. The plastic clattered loudly to the floor and the weird looking macaroni made a gross slopping noise as it spilled all over the linoleum. Garrett swore loudly enough that all of the surrounding tables started laughing. He immediately started playing it off like it was a joke until one of the lunch room monitors came over. Bram muttered an apology as Garrett knelt down to try to help clean up the mess. When the monitor sent them both away for ‘already doing enough’, Bram followed Garrett back to the table. Everyone was already staring at them, so Bram pulled out the chair next to Simon and sat quietly.

“What happened, Garrett?” Abby finally broke the silence at the table. “Were you consumed by something?”

Laughter around the table finally erupted. Garrett rolled his eyes and tried to be casual, but Bram could see the red blotches on his cheeks. Across the table, Nick was smiling at Abby like she’d said the funniest thing in the world. He laughed to himself; that was why Nick wanted to switch seats.

“Amy Everett Eyes.”

Bram felt his heart stutter. He turned to Simon.

“What?”

Simon smiled, and Bram felt like he was going to pass out. He wasn’t lying when he told Jacques that cute boys always made him freeze up.

“When Nick gets really obsessed with a girl,” Simon said quietly. Like he was making sure Bram was the only one that heard. He nodded towards the other side of the table. “He gets the same lovesick look he did in freshman year around Amy. Amy Everett Eyes.”

“Oh.”

There were probably a thousand funnier, wittier, cooler things that Bram could have said in response to Simon, but his brain couldn’t manage anything more than a syllable. He looked down to his hands. There was something about Simon’s smile at the expense of their friend that made his heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest. When he finally turned to look at Simon, Simon was already facing the other direction towards Leah.

Bram was so distracted for the rest of the lunch period, he didn’t notice Garrett swiping half of his lunch.

Bram thought that algebra would be the last time he’d see Simon that day, but of course he couldn't escape the jittery awkwardness of being around his crush. Their school’s chapter of NHS was having their first meeting in the library right after school. He almost walked right into Taylor Metternich when he saw Simon sitting at one of the school’s computers.

“Hey Bram!” Taylor said.

Bram blinked in surprise. “Hi, Taylor.”

“How did you do on the English practical?” She wasn’t in his English period, but he knew she had Mr. Wise a different hour.

He smiled at her. “Ninety-eight.”

There was a tiny little twitch in her smile. After a beat, she said, “Nice job.”

She didn’t tell him her score, and Bram didn’t ask. She followed him to one of the tables in the library, and he made sure he sat so he could see Simon without making it obvious that he was looking. Taylor started rambling to him about how they needed to hurry up so she could get to play rehearsal, but he was too busy looking across the library. He watched Simon push his glasses up as he stared at the library computer. Nick dropped down at the seat next to him and bumped his fist against Bram’s, and Bram finally tore his eyes away from the computer area.

“What’s up?” he asked them both.

“You’d think for the smartest students in the school, whoever is running this meeting would be on time,” Taylor said, crossing her arms over her chest. Nick looked at Bram with a raised eyebrow.

Mrs. Murphy, one of the regular-level English teachers, rushed into the library carrying a stack of papers. “Hi, hi, sorry I’m late, the copy machine was jammed.” She introduced herself, and started passing out information forms to everyone. He recognized a few of the other students that were attending, and saw some new faces. The new freshmen looked so little this year.

When Mrs. Murphy started going over things that Bram already knew, he chanced a glance back to the computers. He tried not to let his disappointment show on his face when he realized Simon’s computer was now occupied by Martin Addison. He was sitting up on one of his legs so his face was less than a foot away from the monitor, and his mouth was hanging open.

He turned back to the teacher just in time to hear her offer the chance to ask questions. She did that teacher thing where she glared around the room like, if she intimidated you enough, you’d suddenly come up with something to ask. When no one had any questions, they were dismissed.

Bram walked with Nick out of the library to where Leah was sitting against the wall of the atrium. It looked like she was drawing something on a sketchpad, but closed it before they got close enough.

“Chick-fil-A?” Leah asked without looking up.

“Hey guys,” Garrett said as he walked up to them. “Hey, Leah.” Bram bit his lip so he wouldn’t laugh. What did Simon call it? Amy Everett Eyes? Garrett was usually pretty smooth around girls (at least, compared to Bram with guys) but when he actually had feelings for someone, he was helpless.

“Did you get detention for the tray?” Nick asked. Half way through algebra Garrett got called down to the principal’s office on a follow up of what happened at lunch. Even though it was obviously an accident, the cafeteria monitor still ratted him out.

“No, I told you man, Ms. Knight loves me.” Garrett grinned. Bram saw Leah roll her eyes.

“Nice,” Nick said. “We’re going to Chick-fil-A, you in? Greenfeld?”

“I can’t, sorry. Homework,” Bram said. Garrett also shook his head. He was a little surprised that Leah suggested it, if he was being honest. Usually she was pretty vocal about equal rights, and he figured she probably knew about the scandal surrounding the company.

With a quick wave to both of them, Bram and Garrett started walking.They passed the auditorium, and since the doors were open Bram and Garrett stopped to glance inside. Ms. Albright, the drama teacher, impatiently called for Martin a few times from the center of the stage. Taylor was already on the stage with script. Some of the students were sitting in little groups in the auditorium seats. He tried to see if he could find Simon amongst them.

“Thinking about joining Drama Club?” Garrett asked, nudging him. Bram ignored him.

Simon walked out from behind one of the curtains and hopped down off the stage. He had headphones in, and Bram smiled to himself.

Maybe everyone had their own version of Amy Everett Eyes.