[oasis] [arts]

"Your soul - it aches relentless from the fear
That they will never guess - so unfair that
They can make you feel so small
And the fear you know is real"
-Sarah McLachlan

Closet Cases: White Lies, Black Lies

by Patrick

In our last episode, I had gone on what I thought was a harmless trip to the cinema with a friend, Sarah. She quickly revealed her true intentions of getting her hands down my pants, and when I refused her, I made a new enemy, one that would haunt me for a long time.

Monday morning. School was just around the corner. Any minute, I’d be there. Soon, I would spiral into a deep paranoia. Every turn would bring a new look of suspicion. Every breath would yield a new rumor. Every thought would hold a new worry.

The day was pure hell for me.

It was Monday morning and the dread that filled me was overwhelming. Every minute that ticked by tied my stomach in a new knot. Every second brought me closer to the inevitable confrontation with Sarah.

I always dread going to school, but that day was different. I was scared, scared that the entire school would know about Saturday night, and our "date" gone awry. Sarah was out there, and she hated me. I rejected her! How dare I? In her eyes, the fact that I didn’t sleep with her meant only one thing: that I was gay. The natural thing for someone like her to do would be. of course, to tell the entire school.

And that was my fear. What would happen if she started telling everyone that I was? She had no evidence, but who’s was the stronger case? I was this nobody new kid and I could have had Sarah, one of the most popular and sought after girls in the school and I refused. Now how is that going to look?

My only hope was that Sarah didn't say anything. It certainly didn't make her look good, true, but what if she put two and two together? She was a very smart girl and I’m sure she would have caught on even if I had done what she had in mind. Could she have caught on already?

The more I thought about it, the bleaker things looked. I just had to hope that she hadn't, or wouldn’t, said anything. If I'm labeled as gay, or outed even, I thought, having my Friday and Saturday nights free will be the least of my worries.

Even now, I wonder if Sarah actually had me figured out. But then, there were different worries: if she does, would she go advertising? And if she did publicize it, where would that leave me? Once there was suspicion out there, and then if there was "proof" to go along with it, how could I lie and convince people that I'm not gay? I just had to pray Sarah kept her mouth shut, otherwise, worst case scenario, I could be outed and kicked out of my house in under a week's time.

School came. Perhaps it was my paranoia, but I think I heard whispers behind my back. No confrontation occurred with Sarah, just a contest of dirty looks between us in study hall. There was no clear winner in this battle, and as the day ended, the round did as well. It was a draw.

The next day, there was still no confrontation. I was a bit relieved, but I was still worried. Sarah could lash out at any moment, and I could be through.

That afternoon, I was at work. As a cashier at a local grocery store, I don’t have the most glamorous job, but it pays all right. That Tuesday, I had the late shift, until ten, so I had a half-hour lunch break. I went to a sandwich shop in the attached shopping center with a friend of mine, a fellow cashier named Rachel. She's nice and we get along really well. She's called my house a couple times, to see what my hours were, and we've ended up talking for an hour or two. We get along famously.

She has a boyfriend, luckily, so she can't have the hots for me. I just worry that her boyfriend might get the wrong idea about our "friendship". It's too bad that she's taken-- I wouldn't have minded a pseudo-relationship with her.

We split a grinder and Rachel started the ball rolling. "I heard about you and Sarah." I almost choked on the bite in my mouth. "What's that look for?" she asked.

I swallowed hard. "Nothing. I, ah, I guess I just didn't know that it was public knowledge."

"Well, it's making it's way around. What happened?"

I told her the story of the events of the evening, saying that I was still having a hard time getting over my last girlfriend in my old town. "I'm ready for anything right now. Certainly not what she wanted to do!" I think she was favorably impressed by the load of bullshit I had just given her.

"So you're not gay then?"

A beat.

Without changing my expression, I said, "Why the hell would you say that?"

"It's what Sarah's saying."

"Jesus Christ! That's just what I need! I'm having a hard enough time making friends as it is. If people hear this and believe it, I'm through."

"Well, I'll be your friend, no matter what. You know that."

A beat.

"Thanks, Rachel. That means a lot to me." Another pause. "I'm not, you know, gay."

"I didn't think so. And if you were, that's okay. I'd be a little disappointed that I could never have you," she said with a smile, "but I'd still be your friend."

In that moment, I realized how much I hated myself for lying right to her face and doing it so easily. Did she know how much it tore me up inside? Did she know how much I wanted to tell her? Did she know how much she had touched me by saying those nice things, and how terrible it felt that I was deceiving her?

No. I couldn't. Not yet, not now. Someday. So I changed the subject. "What is it about me?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know, Sarah tried to get her hands down my pants... Katie, that girl from my math class, fell head over heels for me--"

"--Lisa is fawning after you--"

"--Lisa, from work?" I asked.

"Of course!"

"You noticed it too?"

"Everyone's noticed it."

"Oh."

So she tried to explain what my supposed "sex appeal" was during the remaining fifteen minutes of lunch. She came up with a list of attributes, most of which made me laugh. "A tall, dark, and handsome new kid... you’ve got mystery, nice eyes, a nice body, and you’re quiet. You’ve got that charismatic Clark Kent thing going on. You’re funny... you’re smart... you’re the perfect man: a piece of meat with personality and heart!"

I'm not really sure how many of those are true, except for being quiet and new. But that's what she told me and that was one of the highlights of that day.

We rushed back late to work, but luckily no one noticed. I didn't need another black mark on my record! They rest of the day was boring, but nice. I was in a good mood and very happy. Rachel might not be my best friend, but at least I know that she’ll remain a friend if she were ever to know the truth.

After a few days, I was confronted about Sarah’s rumors by almost all of my friends. She pinpointed specific people to tell, in order to destroy me. Ultimately, Sarah achieved nothing with her "rumours" except making herself look bad. I don’t know exactly what she went around saying, but apparently, it wasn’t terribly convincing.

Quite a few people did, in fact, ask me what had gone on between us and if I was gay or not. It hurt to deny who I was, but it was for my best interests, so I simply shrugged off Sarah’s allegations. It was very hard for a while, but then I calmed down. I really am disgusted at how easily I lied.

I guess I've found out some of the people who might be okay with it, and others that would be completely intolerant. I guess if anything positive came out of this whole Sarah ordeal, it was the fact that I learned more about these people that I know. I know a few that I fell maybe able to handle it, of course, that doesn't really matter, because I'm not coming out in high school, now am I?

The Sarah ordeal did give me something else that I am grateful for...

His name's Josh and he's in a couple of my classes. We never really talked to each other much, but we do sit next to each other in our History class. A week or so before Sarah dropped her bombshell, we had been engaging in small talk more and more, and we became the kind of casual school friends that you say ‘hi’ to in the hall and talk to in class.

Josh is rather cute, I might add. He's not really the kind of guy that most people would notice, though. He has blonde hair and beautiful bluish-green eyes. He’s of average height and has a swimmer’s build. A handsome face, too. Nice smile and a strong, and unbelievably cute, nose. He’s not the most attractive guy by anyone’s standards, but there's something about him that makes him appealing to me and I think it might be that nose.

I have a tiny little feeling that he might be gay, too. I don’t know how to tell, and it’s probably nothing more than wishful thinking, but I have this strange feeling about him.

A few days after Rachel confronted me, I realized that Sarah had gotten to Josh as well. He acted differently one day. More friendly and outgoing, it seemed. I wondered why.

And then, out of the blue, he just asked, "Are you gay?"

I paused for a second because I just wasn’t expecting it. I looked into his eyes for a moment, trying to read him to see why he was asking. I took a deep breath. "Sarah got to you, too?"

"Yeah."

Another pause.

"I’m sorry to hear that. I have no clue where she got that idea," I answered enigmatically. "I mean, just to say that about me, it makes her look bad. Is she really that conceited?"

He apologized for asking. "I should have known, I shouldn’t have asked." He seemed quieter for the rest of the day.

I don't know why Josh seems gay to me. He doesn't act gay, if there is a certain act that gay people must adhere to, but he does act different from other guys. It's really hard to explain. Maybe it's just because I'm starting to have feelings for him. He did have quite an interest in finding out if what Sarah said was true, and seemed almost a bit disappointed when I gave my evasive reply. I guess only time will tell...

Continued...


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