1.

First meeting was an accidental brush, an awkward touch of sides in the hallway, looking back and trying to figure who started what and where-

Pretty almond-shaped eyes, no more thoughts.


2.

More incoherency; Logan (cognition-stopping beautiful) sat next to him in class and would glance over and glance over and glance over until his face was melted into Joshua's mind, a perfect image that sat there until Joshua used it later and ejaculated his dirty thoughts on the sheets.

He would leave his room and wash his hands once for every look and throw everything that had been on the bed in the washer and fall asleep in the laundry room.


3.

He watched Logan. He would see him after school and see him with other boys, touching and kissing and slipping into the cars of near strangers, often drunk and always stupid. Joshua would look and wonder if it was really all that easy to be homosexua

Maybe his mother had it wrong; she wasn't very perfect, after all.


4.

Everything in school and on TV portrayed men being abusive, so Joshua just assumed it was alright when his mother slapped him and kicked him and called him worthless after she said she loved him.


5.

"You dropped this," Logan smiled. He dressed in too-tight clothes on a too-thin frame. He was like the pencil he was holding out.

Joshua took it wordlessly and fled.


6.

Joshua remembered this incident and the way it felt to touch Logan's hand when his mother called him a faggot. He was stronger than her; she was frail and sick and short, while he was almost six foot, but he couldn't hurt her, so he would just watch.

Watch her hands, watch her mouth, and pretend everything was alright because Logan was somewhere, somewhere.


7.

He hated parties; too many bodies in a dark room with too much music, tripping over discarded cups and sighing, making his way outside despite a girl that slid against his back and murmured, "Joshua, you're so sexy."

Girls were liars. Logan looked feminine. Was he a liar?

Joshua couldn't help but think so when he walked outside and saw him, panging with jealously because Logan's soft hands were touching another boy's face, but that wasn't unusual.

No, no it wasn't.


8.

Joshua walked in the bathroom after Logan only because he saw Logan go in. Logan glanced at him, looking weary and tired and small when no one else was around to observe, "Hey Josh."

"Joshua," he corrected stiffly, washing his hands in the sink as he started to think about last night and how many times he had imagined himself in the position of the nameless guys Logan took.

Logan nodded, brushing past Joshua as he left, murmuring, "That shirt looks sexy on you."


9.

Logan found Joshua alone after school, taking his hand and saying, "You're sad, too."

It made no sense, and it didn't have to, because Logan guided him out and around the empty parts of their small suburban town, past the housing to large fields where corn was once grown. There was now a sign that said a mall was to be built soon, along with several new roads. Logan took him into the wild grass that was currently occupying the space and kissed him, touching his back. Joshua pulled away.

"Are you okay?" Logan's concern rang honest.

"Don't touch me. Fucking faggot."

Joshua ran away from everything and went home.


10.

Logan looked hurt.

Logan kept glancing at him in the class they shared.

Logan purposefully brushed closer to him in the hallway.

Logan went as far as to say, "I understand if you're having problems, we can talk."

Logan left with someone after school, another nameless boy.

Logan, Logan, Logan.


11.

It was infatuation, it had always been, with his black hair and the freckles on his lips and nose and cheeks and forehead. Joshua knew he couldn't win a game against someone like him, so when Logan came to him the second time, pulling him tight and this time showing him to a bedroom, Joshua surrendered.


12.

Warmth; sheets under him and a body that was breathing faster than his. This unsettled Joshua and he had to move away, looking at what he could see with wonderment. He pulled the blanket off of Logan when he recalled where he was, careful not to wake him as he just stared at the nudity splashed before him, leaving quickly once the other teenager was covered again.

His mother waited up all night because she loved her baby boy, which is why she slapped him and scolded him and begged him to never leave.


13.

He remembered when his mom would put a hand under his pajama bottoms and stroke him.

Logan took him into the bathroom stall and stroked him. Joshua vomited.


14.

"I can't do this," Joshua muttered, shaking his head when Logan came back again. He breathed harsh, in out, inout, inoutinoutinout, "Logan, please just leave me alone."

Logan ignored him, pressing close and touching his chest and kissing his neck and doing things until Joshua sighed and withered.


15.

Logan said they were 'together.'

Joshua took this to mean 'exclusive', but Logan had someone else with a name (October) and he was sure October thought 'together' meant 'exclusive', too.


16.

He watched Logan's chest rise and fall, while Logan tenderly rubbed his side, "Josh? Come on, just talk to me."

Joshua shrugged, because his mouth was tired and his confessions were monsters.


17.

Joshua was alright with everything until he walked to Logan's, wanting to see him with a desperate intention, a long withheld sob, a whispered story, but it was no comfort to see October on the doorstep, arms tight around Logan as they embraced.


18.

Logan's nose bled after Joshua punched him; shock crossed his freckled face, cupping the flow of crimson marring his pale semblance and screaming, "What the fuck is wrong with you!"

He had come to Joshua yet again, but Joshua wasn't having it anymore because things weren't okay, and he couldn't stand another moment just living with it, even if it broke his heart when Logan very promptly said they were no longer 'dating'.

October was more beautiful, anyway.


19

.

Joshua came home and sat on the couch. Mom crawled in his lap and kissed him on the mouth, before digging her nails hard into his neck.

He gasped and said he loved her, because he knew that's what she wanted to hear and she relaxed and they fell asleep like that.


20.

He went to school and saw Logan flirting with someone who didn't have a name and smiled because at least October wasn't special.


21.

Logan found Joshua on a Sunday morning, just before church because mother insisted on going. Logan didn't go to church; he waited by the pond just outside and never stepped over the threshold because maybe, maybe he'd burst into flame.

Whatever the answer truly was, Joshua let Logan take his hand because he didn't want to sit in the pews next to his mom, and anything was better, even if anything was Logan talking him into fucking, because it was only making love when they were in love, and Joshua was starting to doubt that had ever been.

Joshua beat Logan until he cried and pleaded after they were dressed, because he realized his face reminded him of his mother's.


22.

Dad had a gun when he was alive.

Joshua knew mom had kept it.

There were no more thoughts.