I've known I was gay for about a year now. Or rather, I came to terms with it then. The girls I dated never really did anything for me, not that there were many of them. However, it wasn't like I was sneaking peaks at guys in the shower and having to hide hard-ons in the locker room.
I did some searching, experimenting. Not, not with people, I didn't think I was ready for that yet, but online. If there's porn of it, I've probably seen it, or read it.
The real clincher was a few months ago. Looking at things online is one thing, developing a real attraction to someone is different.
I'm not sure how we avoided it, especially since we share a room, but we've never jerked off around one another.
One night, I woke up at an unholy hour, somewhere around three am. Not sure what it was that made me wake up, I just lay there, trying to get back to sleep.
And then, I heard him.
It was the creaking I became aware of first, the wooden frame of his twin bed protesting softly under his weight. After that, everything else hit all at once; the smell of sweat and arousal was thick in the air, the rustle of restricted movement, but most of all, it was his stifled moans that dominated, permeated.
It destroyed everything I thought I knew about the world and confirmed everything I had suspected of myself.
The sudden bloom of pain and distance between the two of us is jarring enough to snap me back to reality.
The sight of Cameron's fist is enough to wash me in the cold fear of what may become reality. I try to make myself as small as possible, knowing what comes next, knowing that the trickle of blood streaming from my nose is not nearly enough penance for what I've done.
He hasn't moved yet and I glance up, shaking, terrified; noting his shocked, bewildered expression but seeing only anger, distrust and hatred – a superimposed image from my nightmares.
Cameron shifts and I press myself into the wall, murmur apologies until I'm almost bellowing the words; hoarse and crying and pleading, I manage to stutter out his name.
It's his sudden intake of air and the way he storms from the room that tells me he's finally put the pieces together.
I don't stop once he's gone.
I awake to the sound of my name being called, what seems to be the family's favorite thing to do this weekend, and freeze. This time around it's a situational hazard; I somehow managed to squeeze myself under the frame of my mother's bed before I passed out again.
"I know you're in here Kolton," my mom announces as she sits at the foot of the bed, peeling off her flats. I make a small sound of discontent that I doubt she hears until she speaks again. "Get out here, kid. We need to talk."
She's silent as I worm my way out and when I'm finally on my feet, I find her with her eyes closed, rubbing the back of her neck tiredly.
I clear my throat softly and she sighs before looking up.
"Kole, I – oh god," she pales and clutches a hand to her chest, turning her head away. "Is that blood?"
My mom has always had hemophobia – a fear of blood. She works at a diner for a reason.
"Ah, Kole, go please."
I didn't think that there was that much blood but I must have started again after I passed out. There is quite a bit more than I remember. I turn away from her so it's out of sight, "are you going to be okay?"
She responds so faintly that I doubt it, "just go get cleaned up okay? We'll talk later."
I pause in the hall, listening for Cam's presence and hear only the soft hum of the TV in the living room. The room is empty when I finally go inside and I sigh, both relieved and disappointed.
I quickly shed my clothing, setting my bloodied tee aside to throw away and putting the rest in my hamper. I grab a towel and enough clothes not to be naked before darting across to the bathroom.
When we were little, Cam and I practically existed as one unit. He was always insightful, protective and inventive. I was just me.
We used to play hide and seek together when our grandmother watched us on weekends. I sucked at it. Cam always found me quickly no matter where I went.
"We're little Kole," he told me after finding me for the fourth time in a row. "We can get into places better than others, especially you. Next time you want to hide find somewhere small, somewhere out of the way. Find somewhere you'll be safe."
I'd been cramming myself into the smallest spaces I could find ever since.
I towel off and dress before returning to my room blotting water from my hair as I go.
My heart freezes in my chest when the door shuts softly behind me.
"So," it resumes, now beating triple time as I turn to face Cam. He leans against the door, eyes cast downward and trying to look as apologetic as he can muster but all I register is that I'm trapped in here, with him. "Look, I – I didn't mean to hit you earlier. Well, I guess I did mean to, but I shouldn't have. I don't know why I did," he rambles, shifting uncertainly. "Shock, maybe? Maybe. What I'm trying to get at is that I'm sorry."
A few moments of silence pass before he finally looks up and takes a step towards me. Expecting antagonism, I nearly fall over trying to put as much space as possible between us, which really isn't much. He keeps coming, slowly, cautiously and I keep trying to calculate how to get to the door but keep coming up with no answer.
"Is this how it's going to be from now on, Kole? Are you going to freak out every time I come near you?" his hand shoots toward me and I dodge, only to be caught by his left and pulled against him in a hug.
I don't respond, just count down the seconds until he lets me go. He doesn't. I'm not sure whether it's the situation or that he really holds himself back whenever he hugs someone but he just clings to me as if this isn't really, really awkward.
"I love you," he says into my shoulder and I stiffen more, not certain where he's going with that statement. "But, I don't want… this."
The fact that that's a perfectly normal response stings almost as much as his rejection. I laugh before shoving him away. "You think I want this? I don't want to want you!"
"Because it's wrong! Because I'll never have what I want. Because, even if, by some slim chance, I do get it, I'd always have to hide.
"And, I don't think I can keep this up much longer," still as edgy, I continue softly. "Look at what it's done to me already."
I get no response and pretend not to understand the look in his eyes.
"Come in."My mom peeks at me when I enter, probably checking for signs of blood, before putting her book down and facing me.
I sit on the floor beside her bed and it's quiet for a long time.
Finally, "you need help kid."
"I want to get help mom."
She sighs, taking my words for acquiesce. "I'm taking you to see your doctor."
"I want to see a therapist, mom." I can tell she's listening but my words aren't quite getting through to her yet.
"This isn't healthy, Kole."
"I thought that this was temporary but I'm really worried about you."
"I kissed Cameron, mom."
"You're just wasting away, kid," she pauses to stroke my cheek before dropping her hand. "What did you say?"
"Gay, kissed Cam, therapy please?"
"Really?" I nod at her, shortly and she pats me on the head in a placating manner. "And you want therapy? You're sure?"
"Yes, mom." I'm not sure why they don't understand.
"But what if –" she cuts herself off and seems to reconsider her words. "Did you say you kissed your brother?"
We stare at each other for a few long moments until she bids me to lie next to her. I do so and we talk late into the night, until we're too drowsy to stay awake and before I fall asleep, I think of the stolen kiss.
It's something I'm sure will both haunt me and drive for the rest of my life, something that will never happen again. It can't, I won't.
And, right now, it's hard to imagine Cam ever will.
Right now, things are awkward.
Right now, I refuse to face this.
But, eventually, one day, I'll have to.
Just not right now.