You didn’t drive today. You always drive, but today you didn’t. So I picked you up from behind the school, in a parking lot that seemed abandoned. “Can I feel safe with you?” you teased. As a new driver, I was used to this tired joke, but when you asked it, I laughed, and not the fake kind. “Shut up Tom, and get in,” I replied with a smile.
After 20 minutes of small talk and jokes, we arrived at my place. No one was home. This was perfect — Tom always felt more comfortable this way. “I’m going to your room for a nap,” Tom called to me. He never neglected to tell me this, even though he took a nap in my bed every Tuesday and Friday. Because Tuesdays and Fridays he didn’t have practice. Because Tuesdays and Fridays he had no plans with his friends. Because Tuesdays and Fridays his girlfriend was at work and didn’t have time to bother him.
I made two plates of leftovers, putting a little more on his plate than mine, then headed to my room. My room was messy. Clothes were scattered about, and my bed wasn’t made. My mom would be furious if she knew I had allowed for the company to come in a dirty room like this. But you only clean up for guests, and Tom was more than a guest. He was sprawled out on my bed, my boxers lay under him. I laughed loudly. He raised his head and said in a low grunt, “learn how to clean your room.”
Following his short nap, we played the game and joked around. I teased him about being the worst on the team, and he teased me for not ever making a team. It was times like these I cherished most with him. Times when he wasn’t ashamed to speak to me, or joke with me, or even sit so close to me. Times when he was free.
It happened when we were playing the game. He moved in close, so close that he could probably smell the tuna fish I ate for lunch a few hours back. He leaned in, and I followed. Five seconds — it lasted five seconds, but I swear if felt like a lifetime. He quickly moved away and started to panic. Over and over he reassured himself of his sexuality. I just sat there, allowing what happened to sink in. Then slowly I got up; Tom was still panicking. I picked up my car keys. “Be at the car in five,” I whispered amongst the chaos.
We sat there quietly, no one saying a word. Tom was too afraid to breathe, and I was too afraid to comfort him. It was all so surreal. The car cruised at around 70 miles. The sun was setting, and a pink sky lay above us. Tom and I made eye contact for the first time since our encounter. His complexion was ghostly. At that moment, I stopped allowing myself to feel hurt and instead put myself in his shoes.
When I pulled into his driveway, he left without saying goodbye. I sat there for awhile. Then I pulled out my phone and texted, “I won’t tell. See you Friday.” He instantly replied. It read “ok.”