They hadn’t exchanged a word, just a feeling and some body fluids.
The mess was gone now, but in a way it wasn’t. The memory was sticky inbetween his thoughts, a mess in his mind. Unlike a word, this was something unforgettable, uninterruptible, inexcusable… and the only two witnesses were locked in an unspoken understanding of silence.
Silence. He’d hoped for it, peering down at the other’s dark eyes while uncomfortably perched up against the sink. Where a lively amber had once been, there was now just shineless, unearthly dark. Natural and unnatural at the same time, and as perplexing as a black hole.
Then it was gone.
Zach toyed around with what they might have said if the breath hadn’t been knocked from their lungs, maybe something like,
I have a boyfriend.
Yeah? Where’s he now?
He was outside of the boys lockeroom, waiting. Hand on one hip, sleek pink-and-blue gift bag on the other, the sunlight glinting off his smooth auburn hair. The sole of one of his red sneakers was, unsconsciously, grinding into the dirt. Class had ended an hour ago, swim practice had too, any minute now…
Grinding a hole into the dirt.
He stopped the moment Zach strode through the double doors, promenading over to pull him into a long, hot-blooded kiss.
A few girls giggled and one guy yelled out “faggot!”
Still others peered onwards, Kylie in particular. The members of the Senior Swim team walked by with averted eyes and disgusted scowls.
“I got something for you.” Mikey announced loudly, pulling out a glossy gift bag.
Zach received it with a warily arched eyebrow, visibly unnerved.
“What’s the occasion?” he asked, pulling out a stuffed animal--- a fluffy pink blob that resembled a pig. It was amazing what passed for a stuffed animal these days.
“I’m too old for stuffed animals.”
Mikey laughed his hesitant, tired-eyed laugh and drawled, “Hey, yeah. I’m sorry you didn’t win, and I heard you were having a bad day.”
Zach gave a wordless nod, turning the pig over in his hands. What good was this nonsense?
“They say men are pigs. I am… I'm intelligent when you don't expect it, cleaner than most people think, but most of all... I really want to be your plushie."
“You want to be a toy I play with and toss aside?”
He glanced boredly at the at the grinning boy with the outstretched arms. The expected hug followed soon after, with Mikey pulling Zach to his chest, and Zach accepting it stiffly, reluctantly raising his arms to meet him. And when it was over, Kylie swayed over to their side and raised her voice in pitch,
“Hiiiii Mikey. Zach.”
She reached out to pet the pig, “This is sooo cute. Where did you find that?”
“It’s a secret.”
“Casey thinks you’re taking him to the prom.”
“Yeah,” Mikey slung his arm over Zach’s shoulders, “If he wants to. But you better show up, I’m helping out.”
“No, really? What’s the theme?”
“It’s a secret. But hey, who are you bringing with you to the prom, Kylie?”
She smiled, and the sunlight flickered over her thick, crusty concealer to unforgivingly reveal the freckles underneath.
“I’m thinking of asking Gentry.”
Zach went rigid at the very mention of the name. This went unnoticed by both parties.
“Gentry?” Mikey asked while leering at her, glossy-green eyes glazing over. He looked her up and down, and smiled hesitantly at the first glimpse of the stark brown dots underneath her make-up, “Ohh. Interesting.”
“Interesting? Is there something you’re not telling me?” she laughed nervously.
“Oh. No, no, nothing at all... he has so many freckles.”
Kylie self-consciously turned her face, and laughed a bit too loudly, “He does. But I think it’s because he doesn’t wear sunscreen. You know, it’s kind of cool that he’s a redhead and a swimmer. Redheads burn up in sunlight.” She turned to Zach, “If at all, you’ve got the natural advantage. I just want to find out if Gentry’s gay or straight. If he’s straight, people should know. And if he’s gay, he could use a confidante.”
“Yeahhh.” Zach smiled at her limply.
Mikey added, “Okay, bye Kylie.”
He took Zach’s hand and walked away just as Kylie shouted after them, “Bye lovebirds!”