AN: This is a short one-shot I wrote for my writing club. My teacher challenged me to finish one before the school year was up. I liked this one so I thought I'd use it. My mom really liked it too, so that sort of sealed the deal since I knew she would never leave me alone about it. So, I hope you enjoy.
Brendan Andrick, journalist for the South Hill School newspaper. Yep, that's me. Not the most glamorous title, maybe, but I enjoyed it well enough. And I was pretty good at it, too. My dream is to someday write for prestigious magazines and newspapers. Maybe even for the New York Times.
I guess that's a while away, though. For now, I just had to be happy with what I had, even if what I had wasn't much.
I mean, how exciting can it be interviewing the 90-year-old lunch lady and asking why she decided to work in a high-school kitchen for most of her life? Hell, I knew the answer to that before I even asked: She was absolutely nuts.
But I had to do it. I had to, even if I didn't want to. Because if I didn't, I could never get used to professional life.
I cautiously eased open the door to the "staff room" and peered inside. Really, it was just an old classroom that nobody used anymore. It was nearly empty except for a single computer sitting in one corner and a newspaper printer in the other. It wasn't glamorous or fancy, but we just couldn't afford much else. The money in the school never came to us.
I was lucky; nobody was inside. I didn't really get along with any of the others, They made fun of me a lot for taking things too seriously. Not to mention the constant pokes at my size. So, I was small; big deal. Jerks.
They won't make fun of me when I'm rich and famous.
I slipped inside quickly and popped open the manila envelope taped up next to the door. It held our assignments for the month. I was excited as I thought about what I might get. Maybe I would get to do a story on the football team this weekend? Or maybe I would cover the art students as they worked on their magazine to distribute to the school?
I smiled eagerly, excitedly as I searched through for my name. I nearly missed it in my hurry, but caught it just in time and pulled it out. My face fell as I read the line on the top of the page:
"Get an interview with Gabriel Smalls."
I cursed at whoever had given me this assignment. Why me? Why him? Well, of course I knew why they wanted the interview. It was a well-known fact that Demetri Smalls was openly gay. The paper insisted that we keep our topics diverse, so we would have a special interview every issue of someone from a different race, or in this case sexual orientation.
It's not that he was the spokesperson for gays or anything. (Though he certainly could be if he wanted to) The paper probably wanted him to be interviewed because he was the most open and comfortable about it. He would tell the truth with confidence.
I was a year older than him, but you would never tell by looking. I was a beanpole-like, nerdy blonde, pale kid with a C in gym. He was tan with black locks and dark eyes that seemed to pierce you when they looked at you. He was into sports but wasn't on any of the teams. He joked a lot and said he didn't join any teams because he wouldn't be able to play right with a hard-on from being in a locker room with hot, half-naked guys. Or, maybe it wasn't a joke.
He and I were complete opposites, especially in popularity. He had tons of friends-hell; I think he was friends with just about everyone-while I just tried to make it by alive. Interacting with him was a foreboding thought, for a lot of reasons.
I sighed and slipped the piece of paper into my back pocket. I didn't have to do it today. I could wait.
Waiting didn't have quite the effect I had hoped. I guess I'd thought that at some point I would catch him alone and could just get the damn thing over with. But no matter how much I danced around the sidelines, wishing that he would break off and go to the bathroom or something (Not that I was really eager for THAT conversation) he still stayed immersed in a thick fray of friends. Jeez, how popular could one guy be?
It was so frustrating that I wanted to tear my hair out. As much as I knew it wasn't his fault and told myself that he didn't know I was here, I cursed his name over and over for making me go through this stress.
And I cursed myself even more for not having the courage to approach him when he was around his friends. I'm such a damn coward.
It was three days to deadline when I did finally get my chance. I was leaving school late because of a meeting. As I traveled through the empty parking lot, I noticed that someone was sitting on the wall ringing the asphalt. I was going to ignore them, until I realized that it was Gabriel Smalls.
I stopped walking, stunned. There was no way I was that lucky. No way. I approached him slowly, sure that he would suddenly change into someone else and I would look like an idiot. But no, it was definitely him. He was staring down at the ground and hadn't noticed me approaching him.
"Gabriel…Smalls?" I said hesitantly. Even though I knew it was him, I was still waiting for something to happen. He looked up at the sound of his name. I found myself caught in his gaze as he gave me a once-over and smiled. He pulled a pair of ear buds out of his ears. So that's why he didn't notice me.
"Hi there," he said lazily, swinging out of his legs against the brick. "You're the guy that's been following me, aren't you?" I felt a blush creep up my face. I guess I wasn't as discreet as I thought.
"Y-yeah," I stammered, trying to keep eye contact but failing, finally staring down at my feet. "I'm sorry, I just…" I swallowed. This shouldn't be this hard. "My name is Brendan Andrick. I'm on the school newspaper. Maybe you've heard of me…?" I let myself trail off and chance a look upward. His face remained blank. Not that I'd expected him to have ever heard of me…
"A-anyway," I continued, "I need to get an interview from you. Is…that okay?" I practically pleaded with my eyes. If he said no, what excuse could I give to the paper? They never viewed it as the subject's fault if they refused to answer any questions. They just said you didn't work hard enough to convince them. I was already looked down on as it was, I couldn't stand it if they started on me for something like this.
"An interview?" Gabriel said, amusement dancing in his voice. "Well, I'm flattered, really, but I just don't think I can if I don't know what it's about."
I blinked. Did he really not know or was he just messing with me? The smirk creeping up his face suggested the latter, but I think he was actually looking for me to give him a reason.
"You know…" I said lamely. It was weird, but the prospect of saying it made my insides clench with terror. It felt like a taboo, somehow; that even though he wanted me to say it, if I did he would blow up at me. "Because you're…" I sighed in exasperation. "Come on, you know…"
"Devilishly handsome?" Gabriel grinned. "I agree, but I hardly think that merits an interview." I swallowed. There was no way he would agree to it unless I said it. "Come on, Blondie, it won't kill you. You can do it…"
"Becauseyou'regay," I shot out in one breath, returning my gaze to the ground. A flush was creeping up my neck. Now I felt stupid for not being able to do it.
"There, now that wasn't so hard was it?" He patted the wall next to him. "Come on, Blondie, hop up." I took a deep breath and pulled myself up onto the wall, pen and paper in hand.
I don't know why I was worried. After a while, we were talking and laughing like two old friends.
"So, you've always known you were gay?" I asked, referring to an earlier question. He nodded.
"Yeah, well, when I was younger I guess I was oblivious to the whole thing. But things really came into perspective during middle school." He shrugged. "Guys were just more attractive, nothing more to it." I nodded slightly. I could believe that.
"Have you ever tried being straight?" I asked. As soon as I said it, I regretted it, but he just laughed.
"I can't say that I have," he said. He smirked over at me. "What about you? Ever try being gay?"
"What?!" My face felt hot again. I stared at my hands in my lap. "That's a…that's…well…" I was cut off by Gabriel gripping my chin in his hand and pressing his lips to mine.
Even though I was a senior, I'd never been kissed before. It just never came up. So I wasn't sure exactly what to do. I admit, I didn't want to stop, and I didn't want him to think that I was an amateur. But all I could do was sit there.
Luckily, he released me after only a few seconds, a lazy smile on his face.
"Don't stress, Blondie," he said, smiling lazily. He gathered up his stuff and jumped off the wall, throwing his hand up in a wave goodbye. I waved back, even though I knew he couldn't see me, still in a daze. I touched my fingers lightly to my lips. They burned.
A smile spread across my face suddenly and I jumped down. I had a lot of writing to do.