I look at him. He looks at me. I look away. Butterflies begin to dance nside me. I glance at him. He glances at me. I turn away. A sudden chill races down my spine. I shiver. It must be the beer. I think I need another one. I walk to the bar. As I pass him he smiles at me. I ignore him. I hate Rick's. It's always so hot and crowded. "Hi, l'm Josh," says a voice trom behind me. I turn around. It's him. "Hi, l'm Chris," I reply. Josh and I hit it off instantly. He was funny. He waswitty. And mostof all, hewascharming. I would not have described him that way during those months we were getting to know each other though. At the beginning he was just cool. We watched basketball, hung out at Rick's, played pool, and studied together. He was my pal. I was his pal. We were best buddies. My parents liked him. Myfriends liked him. Kim liked him. I liked him. I open my eyes, but I can't see. The fog is too thick. A voice in the distance says, "you're going to be fine." I don't feel fine. I try to clear my throat. Someone takes my hand. "Don't try to talk," the voice says, "just relax. You're going to live." No, you don't understand. I don't want to live. I close my eyes. Some shrink doctor comes to talk to me everyday. There is no conversation though, because I never talk to him. I never talk to anyone anymore except Trudy, my bestfriend. She understands me. She doesn't think l'm weird. She says the shrink is required to visit every patiënt on this floor at least once a day. I turn away every time he enters my room. He says that the problem is not with other people accepting me, but with me accepting myself. He is wrong. I do accept me. I do accept the way I am. I do. I do. I hate him. Josh had todrag me to see 'Dances with Wol ves.' He loved it. I thought it was okay. Afterwards we went to Silverman's for a late dinner. We didn't speak much during dinner. He looked tense. I feit tense. Even the waitress looked uncomfortable. The drive home to my place was awkward. He turned in my driveway and switched the ignition off. I told him I had a good time. I lied. He said we needed to talk. I told him to cali me tomorrow. He said we needed to talk now. I told a lame joke. He didn't laugh. "Okay, whatdo you wantto talkabout?" "Us." I laugh. "Are we dying?" "I think our relationship is getting serious." My mind began to race. I have to get out of here. This car is too small. I can't breathe. I can't deal with this. "Oops, midnight. Gotta go. Party's over." I slammed the car door. I called Kim as soon as I got in the house. I told her how much I missed her. She said I should fly out for a weekend. I agreed. She told me all about the recent events at Arizona State, and I told her about the recent campus uproar. I told her that George Bush might be the commencement speaker this year. She likes Bush. I overlook thatflaw. Aftertwo hours I said I was tired. She said she loved me. I said I loved her. I hung up. I closed my eyes and thought back to the time we first met. Fifth grade. "Will you go with me?" (Giggie. Giggle.) God, I love her. I slept on the floor for the rest of the night. My mother sends a priest to my room to cleanse my soul. She says I lost my way with God and that everything will be okay once I pray and ask for forgiveness. The priest begins to read passages of scripture. I teil him I know them already . I have read them over and over a thousand times. He says God created E ve to keep Adam happy, not Joe. "Why did God send Josh nto my lite?" He doesn't answer. He says I am just confused. "Now you're a shrink too!" "Watch your mouth," my mother snaps. I close my eyes. He prays. He tries to take hold of my hand. I pull away. His prayer lasts forever. I doze off. "Amen." Josh called the next day to see if I wanted to go to Rick's. I suggested Ashley's. I can't take Rick's anymore. I told him about my conversation with Kim. He didn't seem to be nterested. He asked me why I left so abruptly last night. I told him I really had to go to the bathroom. I lied. He knew it. He asked if we could finish the conversation at Ashley's. I said sure. Weagreedtomeetat8pm.Wehungup. "Hey Dawn, do you want to go to Ashley's tonight?" Dawn, Karen, Steve, and I arrived at Ashley's around 7:30. I had a Long Island. At 7: 45 I had another one. By the time Josh arrived I was on my third and feeling every sip I took. "So Josh, what did you want to talk about?" He glared. "You want to be my boyfriend, don't you?" At that moment Karen, Steve, and Dawn stood up and were gone, almost as if they had vanished. Josh looked hurt. I was having a great time. "Would you like anything else," asked the waitress. "Yeah sweetie, bring me another Long Island and bring one for my buddy too!" Josh left without saying a word. I finished both drinks. Trudy says my family won't allow Josh to come see me, but he's not to blame. It was I who wasn't strong enough to face the wrath of the world. I disgustedpeoplebecausel lovedaguy. Myfriends and family couldn't accept it, but how could they? I couldn't accept it. But then again they are the ones who stopped calling, who stopped coming around, who forgot I was alive. I always loved them for who they were, but now they couldn't lo ve me back. Jerry Falwell says l'm a sinner. Oral Roberts says l'm a sinner. My own religión says l'm a sinner. My parents believe it. My friends believe it. I once believed it. I called Josh the next day to apologize for the way I acted at Ashley's. He said maybe we shouldn't see each other anymore. I said I wanted to see him. He asked me why. I told him I loved him. He said he loved me. I called Kim to break off our relationship. She began to cry . I told her I still loved her. She asked me why. I told her I was in love with someone else. "What's her name?" "His name is Josh." She hung up. I called my parents to tell them I broke up with Kim. I had to tell them before she did. My mom asked me why. I told her I was in love with Josh. She gave the phone to my father. My father told me my mother was cry ing. He asked me why. I told him. He said he was going to kill that faggot. I hung up. I explained to my friends the reason that I acted so weird at Ashley's. They said they understood. I asked them if we were going to sign the lease forthis house in the fall. They informed me that they had found another place and there wasn't enough room for all of us.There wasn't enough room for me. Heft. I hated them all . I hated the world. I wanted to die.
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