'Will, am I fat?'
'Um,' I reply uneasily. I turn around to see one of my housemates weighing herself in the kitchen. 'What makes you ask that?'
Leisel sighs and steps off the scales. 'I've gained three kilos in the two months that I've been living with you guys.'
'I see,' I offer in an intentionally vague tone. I return to reading my magazine, and pray that Leisel won't ask me any more awkward questions. Leisel's a nice girl, and I expect that if I was your average straight guy in his late teens, then I would be quite interested in her. She works as a beautician and hairdresser, so her hair, clothing and make-up are always perfect, and she's certainly not intolerable. She just asks very, very difficult questions at times, and as a gay male, I find myself ill-equipped to provide the responses she's seeking.
Leisel sighs again and flops onto the sofa alongside me. 'You're such a man. Just say it. Just tell me I'm fat.'
I put my magazine down and arrange myself into a more socially acceptable sitting position. Lounging all over the couch with one leg over the arm of the sofa, and the other resting on the coffee table, probably isn't the best way to endear myself to my female housemate.
'You're not fat,' I confirm.
'I think I am.' She replies forcefully.
'Well, then come running with Roman and I tonight,' I suggest. Roman is my best mate and Leisel's boyfriend. We participate – in a very informal, amateur way – in the odd triathlon or two.
Leisel frowns. 'I wouldn't be able to keep up.'
'You don't have to. Just go at your own pace.'
'Roman will laugh at me.'
Her hazel eyes narrow. 'He will.'
The sound of the garage door opening alerts us to the fact that either Roman, or our other housemate, Seth, has arrived home. Leisel and I wait to see who the new arrival is.
'Wow, were you guys waiting for me?' Roman inquires with a cheesy grin as he walks inside.
'Yes,' I reply quickly. 'Leisel was just saying how she'd like to come jogging with us tonight.'
Roman's blue eyes widen. 'Really?' he asks his girlfriend.
'No,' she replies, sounding depressed and defeated. 'I only want my fat to go away.'
I pick up my magazine and head upstairs. This is not a conversation I want to become any more involved in. Roman can come upstairs and collect me when he's ready – or when he and Leisel are ready – to go for a run. Until then, I'm happy to get changed into my running clothes, and thenlet myself become absorbed in my sports magazine.
My bedroom is the smallest of three, and in it is my bed, desk, cupboard and bookshelf. It's kind of messy at the moment. I was much neater at home, but at 'home' I had someone else making dinner and someone else doing my washing and ironing. Even though I'm only a ten minute drive away from them, I sometimes really miss my foster family. They were loud and annoying and interfered with my life, but I was accustomed to them and their individual peculiarities. In fact, had they not decided that I would 'enjoy the freedom of living with friends', instead of remaining in the family home, I probably never would have moved out. I'm a bit of a baby at heart.
I stretch my legs out and enjoy the comfort of a king size bed. I'm six foot five, and the bed was a moving out present from my foster fathers. I love it. I love being able to stretch out without my feet hanging off the edge of the bed. Plus, when you're as tall as I am, having sex in a double bed can be an exercise in maneuverability.
After perhaps half an hour, Roman comes and knocks on my door. Leisel is coming jogging on the conditions that we don't make fun of her, don't run off on her, and don't pressure her into participating in any other exercise.
'Right,' I agree.
'Right,' Roman rolls his eyes sympathetically. 'Girls.'
'Its moments like these were I really have to gloat that I'm glad I'm gay.'
Romie snorts. 'Don't get too excited; I've met your boyfriend. Actually, is he your boyfriend at the moment or not?'
'I don't know,' I admit. 'He rang me last week and said he was going to call again on Tuesday, but it's Thursday now and he hasn't called. I text messaged him last night, though. Maybe he'll respond.'
Jackie isn't the world's most loyal, or loving, boyfriend, but there's something about him that I find incredibly attractive. Even if he doesn't feel the same way, I love him. It annoys my friends and family, but I honestly can't help it. I love him, and I don't think anything is every going to change that.
'Maybe you could take this as your opportunity to get rid of him once and for all,' Roman remarks.
'Or maybe not,' I reply irritably. 'I hardly see why it matters to you.'
'It matters to me because he's jerked everyone in your family, and mine, around. You know what he did to Mum. You know he steals money from people. He doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself.'
It normally takes quite a lot to make Roman lose his temper, but as much as I hate to admit it, the mere mention of Jackie's name is enough to drive him wild. He started off with a nonchalant attitute towards my lover, but over the past few months he's grown to hate him.
'Look, forget about it,' I offer, forgetting my own irritation in order to keep the peace. 'Let's go running. Jogging. Power-walking. Whatever the girl wants, huh?'
Roman gives me a small smile. 'I'm glad she's coming. She looks cute in shorts.'
I let out a mock-weary sigh. 'Of course she does.'
My best mate's smile widens. 'Her boobs bounce, too. I love bouncy boobs.'
'God you're nasty.'
'Nasty, horny, and ready to jog!' he corrects exultantly. 'Downstairs, my friend! It is time to do our stretches.'
Roman and I run down the stairs to where Leisel is standing. We stretch together; a dirty straight boy, a paranoid post-op mtf transsexual, and a skinny guy with a boyfriend whom most people would class as a wanker.
All we're currently missing is our cross-dressing housemate and a general sense of decency. Happily, we're far more likely to find the former than we are the latter.