Introduction: This particular short tale is based on one Christmas day back in my childhood. Part fiction Partly true. Other names besides my own have been changed. 

 

“Not even a couple? Come on, it’s Christmas!”

“Not until after lunch, we’re already running late as it is.  Had you gotten up a little earlier with your sister, like I’d asked, then my answer would have been yes,” my mother said, standing over me as I’d crouched down to examine my still wrapped Christmas presents. Presents I wouldn’t be allowed to open until much later today because we had to go out to our stinking family get-together.

Ever since my big brother moved out of the house after getting his ‘high school sweetheart’ pregnant, our Christmas family ‘get-togethers’ had become too large for them to take place at home, so the ‘rents would book a large group reservation at some fancy restaurant in the city for us instead. Which sucked, because instead of spending Christmas morning sitting around the fire, opening our presents, as it should be, we had to spend the morning getting all dolled up – or at least mother did – and get ready for going out to eat instead. Which wasn’t my idea of a fun Christmas at all.

“But that’s not fair, Mum, why should I have to get up at seven in the morning? It’s not me who takes three whole hours to get ready to go out for lunch!”

“Mikeey, Mikeey Look!” My little brother Steven came running in to the room and jumped on to my lap, showing off with his little red fire truck, which was currently flashing and making loud siren noises. A huge grin covered his face.

‘Well at least someone’s enjoying their Christmas’, I thought.

“Michael, you can’t go opening your Christmas presents while the rest of us are getting ready to go out. We’d like to be there while you’re opening them. And yes, it does take me three hours to get ready. And you know why? Once they’ve opened their gifts, I have your little brother to wash and dress, Louise’s hair to sort, the dogs to feed and walk, this evening’s meal to prepare, and that’s all to do before I even start on getting ready myself. I only have one set of hands, you know? It would’ve been nice to have your father’s help, but his head’s stuck so far up his own…” She paused “Never mind. You can open them when we get back, and not before. Now go and get ready, we’ll be leaving at eleven.

With a loud exaggerated sigh I stood and made my way back upstairs towards my bedroom to get washed and changed.

My mother, being the way she was, even insisted on picking out my clothes to wear for the day. I guess being thirteen in her eyes means I was still incapable of doing anything myself yet. Even if I were to throw them back in the wardrobe and pick my own out, she’d soon send me back upstairs to get changed again. You can’t win with her. Even if in some weird way she did it because she actually cared about us.

I collected the clothes that she’d set out and made my way towards the bathroom for a quick shower. As I got all soaped up and washed my body over, my thoughts drifted on to what we’d be doing throughout the day. We would be meeting with my older brothers and sisters, and their families. Some I hadn’t actually seen since the Christmas before. Some of them even had children of their own now. Imagine that! Only thirteen and I already had little nieces and nephews running around some place. Weird.

I thought about my best friend, Mark, who was also out visiting his relatives over Christmas. Which sucked because we’d hardly see each other over the Christmas break before school started again. I was already missing the guy.

To tell you the truth, I had a bit of a crush on him. That wasn’t a problem for me in itself. I’d already come to accept my not so normal sexuality ages ago. Maybe ‘accept’ is the wrong word, here. I never thought that there was a big issue with it in the first place, others might not like me being the way I am, but that’s their problem not mine. I was just a little ‘different’, in a small way.

You read a lot about gay teens having a difficult time coming to terms with being gay, some even going as far as committing suicide. I felt bad for them, I really did, but I could never completely understand what they were going through either. Maybe that was because I found that the whole thing wasn’t a major issue for me personally. Sure, I was still in the closet, though I already knew that my family – as utterly annoying as they often were – would accept me being gay without a problem. My mother’s already said as much, she was generalising at the time, and not specifically singling out me, but it still really creeped me out. I guess it’s because I don’t want her, or the rest of my family, to look at me differently. Maybe one day if I have a serious relationship with someone, I’ll come out to them all then.

So back to Mark. My best friend, also the guy I’ve been crushing on for the past three years. I’ve known the guy since we’d moved here, back when I was six. Believe it or not, when I was around seven I actually went ‘steady’ with his sister,  who was herself two years older than myself. We didn’t do much other than hold hands and peck each other on the lips occasionally. It was never really all that serious, considering our ages and all.

Mark and I were almost the same in height, which was to say, quite tall for our age. I was thirteen and almost six feet tall, Mark, also thirteen, was around five-nine. We were both naturally athletic, though I wasn’t all that much in to sports, unlike Mark. The only noticeable differences physically were that Mark had blonde hair and dark brown eyes, while my hair was jet black, and had light blue eyes. It was also pretty obvious that he liked girls. He would talk almost constantly about a few of the girls he liked in our classes at school, and brag about which one’s he knew liked him back. I did at the time find a few girls a little attractive myself, although not to the same extent as some of the guys I liked. Let’s just say that it wasn’t usually girls that filled my fantasies. Mark was at that point the prominent feature. His deliciously looking legs were long and flexible, smooth and nicely toned. I longed for the few times when I would catch glimpses of them during P.E class or while we were kicking a football around in the field. He had his own unique boyish scent, even when his body was soaked in sweat from us wrestling each other, or dirt from rolling around on the grass, nevertheless I found it so alluring. Just hearing his sweet, breaking voice over the phone would sometimes have me blushing, and at other times even my manhood itself swelling up.

“Mike, hurry the fuck up already!” Louise shouted while banging on the bathroom door.

“I wouldn’t let mum hear you using those kinds of words, you little shit!” I shot back at her.

“Whatever… Just hurry up. I need to use the bathroom.”

“Use the other one”

“Dad’s just used it, and it won’t be safe to go in there for ages!” she whined. I had to stifle a laugh at that.

“Whatever. Not my problem. Go piss outside in the garden then.” I replied, grinning to myself.

“Aarrgh!” she screamed while stomping heavily away from the bathroom door. I shrugged to myself. It’s not my problem, besides there is a bathroom free for her to use elsewhere, it wasn’t my fault if she didn’t want to use it.

I decided that it was about the time that I got out anyway, though not for her, I assured myself.

I did my usual brush, floss and mouthwash ritual, before straightening my hair out. My hair was beginning to get a little curly around the back and sides as the length had now reached the point where it starts to curl over slightly. I was surprised that my mother hadn’t ordered me to get a new haircut too, seeing how she likes everything to be so perfect all the time.

Once I’d finished grooming myself, I got changed into the fresh clothes I’d brought inside with me. Looking over the clothes my mother picked out, I figured that they weren’t so bad, really. A pair of baggy navy blue Diesel jeans, a nice plain white shirt, and my favourite Diesel jacket. I had a thing for the Diesel brand at the time, as you can probably tell. I just didn’t like my mother doing everything for me. After all, I’m not a kid any more, I am a teenager now.

Once I’d dressed I made my way downstairs for a quick bite to eat. I settled for a couple of slices of French toast and a tall glass of OJ. In the living room I found my father, my brother Steven, and my younger sister Louise – who quickly frowned once she’d seen me enter the room. Steven was still in his own little world, having the time of his life playing with his new little red fire engine. He loved playing with toy vehicles in particular. Cars, train sets, Scalextric sets, model aeroplanes, you name it, he had it.

I looked up towards my father, who was stood —as he often did—in front of the fireplace concealing its warmth. “How long is Mum going be, Dad?” I asked him.

My father shrugged his shoulders without even looking up, and replied in his usual distant sounding voice. “You know your mother…” Typical of my father, quite the conversationalist, as you can tell.

What felt like three hundred hours later – though in reality probably closer to twenty minutes – we were all set to go.

The drive to the restaurant took us close to an hour. The whole way there I spent the time listening to my Sony Walkman, letting the sounds from bands such as Metallica and Alkaline Trio drown out my sister’s constant whining.

My brothers’ James and Sean, and my sister Sarah were already there ahead, waiting for us. Andrew and Dave, my other two older brothers, and sister Amy, were yet to arrive. My other sister, Joanna wouldn’t able to make it this year due to work that she had to attend.

For some reason unknown to me, we stayed outside waiting for the rest of the family to show. Outside in the cold, on Christmas morning, instead of at home, nice and warm, where I wanted to be – or at least inside of the cushy restaurant behind us.

Just as I expected, I found that my little nieces and nephew, as well as my younger brother Steven, had made their way towards me, where I was sitting on the wall pleading with this afternoon to pass by as quickly as possible. Louise, as usual was doing her best to blend in to my mother’s shadow, who was at the time chatting away with my older siblings. My father had wandered off somewhere out of sight to have a quick smoke.

Not long after that, one by one, the rest of the family arrived, once all together, we made our way inside, into the warmth of the restaurant.

We were placed close towards the back area of the restaurant. There, three large tables had been moved together to accommodate our large group. The staff had even placed a couple high chairs close by for the little ones to use, in case they were needed.

Dave, the oldest of us boys, was being his usual loud and obnoxious self, joking around about one thing or another to do with work, how he’d yet again got another promotion.

‘Christ! It’s Christmas, leave shop talk at home. Who wants to talk about work?’ I wasn’t bothered anyway. I wasn’t paying much attention to tell you the truth.

I know I probably sound like a bit of an arse to you. I mean it is Christmas, right? Big family reunion and all that. Woo-hoo! But the truth is, I’ve never been really close to my older siblings. There’s quite a big age gap between me and Andrew, the next one up in age. We don’t really have all that much in common either, besides our genes. And Louise… Well Louise has always been a pain in the arse, although we do have our good moments too, I suppose. Then there’s Steven, who’s really too young to hold an intelligible conversation with. Don’t get me wrong. I love the little guy. But there’s only so much you can talk to a three year old about.

So there I was, sat twiddling my thumbs, surrounded by eighteen other people, my family – including my siblings’ partners and kids too – on Christmas day and I was bored out of my head.

And that’s when he walked in.

A kid about the same age as myself. thirteen, give or take a year. A kid who would catch my eye and find his way inside my heart in places no one else had ever been before.

You know when you read about people falling in love at first sight, or see it in some cheesy romantic comedy? Well I never really believed in it myself. How could anyone fall in love with someone else so suddenly, y’know? Well, I wouldn’t say it was love exactly. I couldn’t really describe what I was feeling at the time. But what I can say is that in a matter of a few seconds, minutes at most, he brought strange new feelings out of me that I’d never felt before. And that was all before he’d even taken a seat with his family on a table across from us.

I sat there, studying him casually without being too obvious to either his family or to my own. To say he was cute would be a major understatement, he was simply beautiful to look at. A word not normally found in my vocabulary. Even being gay, one thing I’d never considered another guy being before was ‘beautiful’. Handsome? Maybe. Cute? There’s a ton of guys at school I consider cute. Hot – definitely, especially when I caught a good view of some of the guys soaping up their bodies in the showers, after P.E. But this Adonis in front of me was undeniably, undoubtedly unequivocally, unmistakably… beautiful.

He had jet black hair, which seemed to stand out and shine under the bright restaurant lights. Parted down the middle, it was slightly wavy, just about reaching the tips of his shoulders. His skin had a smooth and creamy texture to it, though at the moment it was slightly reddened from the cold air outside. Surprisingly, all he had on was a baggy sports shirt and a loose pair of jeans. No wonder he was looking so cold. The rest of his family, his parents and little sister, I assumed, were all dressed up more suited for the bitter cold weather outside. They looked like the typical British middle-class family.

There was something to him that was so different than all the other pretty faces I’d seen before. School had its fair share of eye candy, don’t get me wrong. There were quite a few guys that I’d really like to get to know better. Especially Mark. Ha-ha!. What’s wrong with that? I’m just like every other hot blooded male out there after all. I have needs too! But there was definitely something different about him. There was like this super strong invisible force pulling me towards him. I’d just love to be able to talk to him, you know? To hear his cute voice just once mention my name, it would be like sweet music to my ears. But… that was unlikely to happen, wasn’t it? Both surrounded by our families inside this restaurant, on Christmas day? Not forgetting that I have about the same amount of courage as a severely frightened fox when it comes to talking to hot guys. I just freeze up, get all tongue tied and really panicky around them. Not the best way to meet new guys,. Not at all.

“Can I take your orders, please?” Stood off to the side of the table was a young, smartly dressed waiter. I’d say he looked about nineteen or twenty. Quite attractive too. Though nothing quite like the young Adonis sitting on the table across from me.

My father spoke up first, and gave his order, next up was my mother, who was sitting at his side. Until it made its way around to me. I’d been so preoccupied with the boy on the other table I hadn’t given it much thought about what I wanted to eat. “Ahem – Erm, fish n chips, please.” I mumbled, somewhat still in a daze.

“Michael!” My mother said sternly. “You can’t order fish and chips for Christmas dinner!” Oops. I’d been so busy studying that boy, I had for a moment completely forgotten what day it was. I heard a few snickers coming from the others surrounding me, adding to my embarrassment.

“Well I, erm… What’s everyone else having?” I asked meekly, and still feeling a little embarrassed. After hearing the various responses,  I settled for a traditional Christmas dinner. Herb-Roasted Turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and a variety of vegetables. I was looking forward to it too, only having had a couple of slices of toast this morning, I couldn’t wait to tuck in to it.

“So little bro, tell me, you got yourself a girl yet?” my big brother Andrew asked a few minutes later. Probably trying to stir up a casual conversation between us. Andrew’s usually the quietest out of all of all us guys. He’d pretty much stayed out of most of the adult conversations going on around us, just as I had, although for different reasons. My reason being I was too busy checking out that boy across from me.

“Not really Andy, been busy with lots of other stuff.” Andrew nodded at that. Looking like he was waiting for me to elaborate on it, but I didn’t. It struck me at that moment that despite us being brothers closest in age, I really didn’t know much about his life as of late. “And you?” I asked. “I mean, how’s Cindy and Ryan?” Ryan is Andrew’s young son, and I found it odd that Ryan and his mother weren’t here with us today.

“They’re fine. They’re at her mother’s.”

“How come you’re not with them then?” I was curious to know.

He didn’t reply right away, and looked sort of hesitant to answer at first. “To be honest, we’re not exactly getting along well right now, Mike.”

“Oh? Sorry to hear about that.” He nodded then shifted in his seat, and looked like he wasn’t prepared to discuss it any further. So I changed the topic. “How’s little Ryan doing?”

“He’s in the ‘terrible threes’ phase, albeit a little early.” I raised an eyebrow. “Last weekend, he decided to pour baby powder down his little toy slide to make it slippery so he could slide down faster. When I found him, he was covered in so much powder he looked like Casper the ghost.” I couldn’t help but snicker at that. That was pretty smart, I had to admit. “Oh, but that’s nothing! A couple of weeks ago, Cindy’s girlfriend was staying over, I was out working at the time. She’d put Ryan to bed, so they could have a girly night in’. When she’d gone upstairs later on to check on him. He’d found a container of Vick’s vapour rub and a tube of KY jelly and smeared it all over the room. The walls, the bed, the dressers, everything!” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, and then apologise after the cold look he gave me. “Man, I have no idea where he comes up with even half these crazy ideas. I can’t imagine any of us ever being that bad.

“You have no idea!” my mother interrupted. “You and your brothers had your own fair share of innovative moments.” I glanced at the rest of the table, it appeared that some of the others had stopped what they were doing and were listening keenly to what Andrew and I had to say.

“Like the time gran’ had just had her hair done up all nice before coming to visit us?” Dave offered. “She was looking good and feeling so proud about her new hair. That is until Mike crept up behind her in the kitchen, snatched the sugar bowl off the side and tipped the whole thing over her head. Ha-ah. It was hilarious!”

“Oh yeah, I remember that.” I added, turning bright red. “Poor grandma, she was fuming with me too!” I laughed, though I also felt a little guilty over it. Still, I was only about six or seven at the time. Nan had passed away just over two years ago. We were all really close to her; she had made a big impact on all our lives.

“You’re not quite so innocent yourself, David,” my mother informed my eldest brother. “If you weren’t making silly prank calls to close family friends and relatives, then you were singing that god-awful ‘diarrhoea’ song in the most inappropriate places.” That had us all laughing, this time at David’s expense.

We continued to reminisce about old times and what crazy antics my siblings and I got up to when we were younger. Despite my earlier feelings about coming here, I found myself actually laughing at some of the stories being told.

I was just about beginning to wonder how long our dinner was going to take, I’d noticed that the mystery kid and his own family’s dinner had already arrived, and yet we were still waiting for ours, but before I’d had a chance to comment on that, ours arrived as well. Just in time too, I was starving!

No matter how much I’d constantly tried to, I couldn’t take my thoughts off of the guy across from me. Even though I was somewhat involved with the various discussions around the table, only a small fraction of my full attention was focused on them. I was, for the most part, stuck in my own little world battling a variety of conflicting thoughts and emotions revolving around the young dark haired Adonis sitting across from me. And despite knowing that nothing would come of it, and it being extremely unlikely that I’d ever see him again after we’d left the restaurant, the fact remained that he was still dominating most of my thoughts.

A subtle subconscious tug had me looking over to the left side of me in Andrew’s direction, where I caught him watching me curiously. Unsure of why he was paying particular attention to me, I shrugged it off, and continued to enjoy my dinner, and at the same time, try sort out the strange new emotions swirling around inside of me.

A few minutes later, I noticed some movement from across at the table where the boy was sat. He had risen from his table and was making his way towards the side of the restaurant, close to where the restrooms were located.

OK, now I had a choice. A choice to either summon up enough will power to take advantage this opportunity and get a little closer to this dark haired angel who’d suddenly entered my world, or – as I so often do – let my fearful nature win out over me, and lose out on the off chance that I might have with at least talking to the guy. I’m sure I can use my quick wits to think of a good enough reason to strike up a conversation with him. But what? Even if I did have the courage to go get up and close to him, what possible reason could I come up with to start up a conversation with him in the Gents? He’ll probably think I’m nuts or something. Worse! He could even think that I’m a pervert! There to perv’ on him, which in a way I guess was true, but that’s not why I was doing it. Was it? I can’t think, and I’m running out of time here! Think Mike. Think!

“Hey there, have you got the time?” No. That’s just stupid. Besides, I have a watch on my freaking wrist anyway! “Hey, do I know you?” No! That’s even worse than the first one. Siiiigh… OK, I know, I’ll just nod my head and say “Hey.” And leave it at that, and maybe he’ll say something back and I can work on it from there. Yeah! I’m a genius! Damn, I best hurry about it though. He’s already been in there for a while.

I stood up and excused myself, which in turn earned me a few questioning looks from some of the others around the table. Well I guess I was leaving half way through Christmas dinner after all. I tried to walk as quickly as possible without arousing any further suspicion.

The usual short walk to the restrooms seemed to be taking an eternity this time around. For some reason my legs felt like they were made of cement, and my heart was beating so rapidly in my chest I could actually hear it pulsing away inside my ears. Even my breathing felt unusually hard and heavy, like I’d just run five miles during gym class, or something.

I summoned up all the remaining courage I had left, and opened the doors to enter the restroom.  I took a deep breath and tried to appear as nonchalant as possible.

There he was, stood in front of one of the urinals at the opposite end of the room with his back to me. I took another deep breath and headed towards the urinals.

A sudden thought entered my head. Shit, I don’t even need a piss! What if he can somehow tell that I’m not even doing anything besides standing there next to him? Maybe if I stood two or three spaces away, he wouldn’t be able to tell. Would he?

As I got to the urinal, my heart began pounding away even quicker and harder than it had been before. I really needed to calm down before I actually started to hyperventilate and get all disorientated, or something.

I started to try and say something, but it seemed that the conscious part of my brain that created my thoughts and caused me to speak, had suddenly gone on hiatus.

I couldn’t even get my mouth to form any of the words I wanted to say. It was as if my voice had somehow become lost at the back of my throat. I even started to blush for absolutely no reason what so ever. My face was burning hot! Jeez, what’s happening to me? He’s just another boy – an extremely fine specimen of a boy – but that’s no reason for me to act so completely goofy all of a sudden. Despite knowing that, I couldn’t quite get my own body under control again.

Forget about talking to him, now I just wanted to get the hell out of here before I spontaneously combusted, or something!

“Hey.” – Wait a minute. That wasn’t me! That was him, and he spoke to me! And just hearing his voice made me even weaker at the knees.

By the time I had mustered enough courage to glance back and return his greeting, he’d already finished his business and made his way towards the sink to wash his hands. I was still reeling from hearing that sweet, amazing voice of his greet me. Maybe it was only a casual ‘Hey’, but it was just for me, you know? I couldn’t help smiling a little at that, despite my insides now feeling like they were completely filled with Jell-O. Shit, say something back you dork!

“*Ahem*. Hey there.” Shit! Is that the best you got? Five hundred million sperm and you’re the one who fertilised the egg?? My voice came out all wrong, all high pitched and scratchy and shit. Great! Now he’s going to think I am a total dork, and he’d be right too. I knew this was a bad idea.

Mike, my boy, you screwed up yet again!

I zipped up after my short imaginary piss, and walked over towards the sink. By this time the boy was running his hands under the hand dryer, it was making so much noise that at this point it would be pretty much pointless to say anything anyway. Even if I had somehow found the guts to say something back to him.

He quickly finished drying his hands and left the room without either of us saying anything else. What an idiot! All that and for what? I said hardly anything to him! I guess I should be happy I got a ‘Hey’ from him though. I suppose it’s better than nothing at all.

Despite that little accomplishment, I couldn’t help feeling a little down about the whole thing. I made my way back to the others feeling a little dejected. I put an artificial smile on my face for everyone else’s sake, when I arrived back at the table. What a total waste.

“Hey there kiddo. Why the long face?” Andrew asked me a few moments later.

“Huh? What?”

“You look like the dog chewed up your best cassette tape or something.”

Oh? Nah. Just thinking is all.”

“Well, think your way outside, you’re coming with me, kiddo”

“No, I’m fine. I just didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. That’s all. I was watching a late night flick on TV,” I lied trying to reassure him, and in vain. He grabbed me by the arm anyway and pulled me gently, but firmly up from my chair, and steered me towards the restaurant’s exit, telling the others that I would be accompanying him while he had a smoke.

“So, spill it, kiddo,” Andrew told me once we’d reached the wall that I’d sat on an hour or so earlier, when I was pleading with the afternoon to pass by quickly.

“Nothing more to tell, Andy. Already told you, I’m tired. That’s all.”

“No. That’s bull! What’s wrong?” he asked once again, raising his voice. Despite his tone, I knew he was asking because he genuinely cared. Still, I couldn’t help but flinch at it. He seemed to notice that and calmed himself a little. “Sorry, but I know something is bugging you, and we aren’t leaving this spot until I know exactly what it is. Now spill already.”

“Andy!” I whined. “Please… Just let it go. I’ll be OK, all right?” I sighed out loud, and decided to give just a little bit of my ‘big secret’ away, hoping to get him off of my back about it. “Look. It’s personal, and you won’t get it, you know?” I tried to swallow back the large lump forming in my throat. “I’ll deal with it my way, on my own, like always, K?” I gave him a look of what I hoped would convince him to let it slide.

But to no avail. “Mike,” He sighed. “You’re my kid brother. OK? And I know we’ve been pretty distant lately. Well since I moved in with Cindy to make our own family. But I’ll always be your big brother, and we are the closest in age. I feel like I should be there for you, y’know?” I nodded. “I’ve known since I first saw you earlier today that something has been eating away at you. First I thought it was you just being your typical moody, bratty self, until I noticed something else.”

*Gulp* ‘Something else’?

“You might think I’m blind, kiddo. But I’m not. And I’m not stupid either. I saw the way you were reacting earlier, and to what, or should I say who you was reacting to. Care to tell me about it?” he asked in a teasing voice.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. If you think…” were all the words I got out before Andrew interrupted me.

“Save it. I’m not here to patronise you, Michael. Nor am I here to tell you what’s ‘right or wrong’ when it comes down to liking someone. You are who you are, and there’s nothing wrong with that. End of story. I knew way back, even before I moved out that you might have feelings that were different to mine, and most other guys too.

“The first time I noticed it was when you often got all starry eyed over Mark. Ha-ha. Don’t give me that look. I’m not blind, Mike. At the time I was naïve and thought it could have been just a passing phase even though I had no problem at all with it. Or you could have been bisexual like my friend Damian is.”

I must have had quite a shocked expression on my face. Damian, super-hot Damian is bisexual? Wow! Who knew? “Forget about it. He’s seeing someone, and she’s quite a babe too,” he laughed.

“But I see now that it wasn’t just a ‘passing phase’, huh?” he asked, playfully punching me in the arm. “So, anyone else know? Mum?”

“No way!” I exclaimed. “And she ain’t gonna, either.”

“Relax kiddo. I won’t say anything, but maybe you should though. She’d be cool with it. I’m sure about that.”

“Yeah, well, don’t. I don’t want anyone else knowing. I didn’t want you knowing either. But I didn’t have a choice in that, did I?” I asked rhetorically, still feeling that my personal space had been mildly violated.

Just then, I saw the boy and his family making their way out of the restaurant towards their car, and I couldn’t help but let out a bit of a hurtful sigh. Another opportunity wasted, if there was one at all to begin with.

“There’ll be other guys out there, Mike. I know it, and I also know how it feels to have someone you love slipping away from you.”

“Cindy?” I asked. Andy nodded confirming my guess. I watched, taking one last detailed look at the boy approaching his car, getting in and then closing the door behind him. Shortly afterwards they drove out of the car park, and out of my life for good.

Things aren’t working out between us,” he told me, sounding quite glum. “We tried, but, well, I guess we’re not really meant for each other either. Shit happens, you know?”

I nodded my understanding. “It’s probably best if we separated, but I just don’t know where to start. We both know it, but neither one of us has verbally acknowledged it yet.”

“I’m really sorry Andy. I remember how excited you were back when you moved out on your own to be with Cindy and the new baby. It sucks that it hasn’t worked out for you both.”

Andy nodded his head. “Well, enough with all this mushy sh…” He stopped in mid-sentence. “Hey, Mum! What brings you out here?” He asked. At that point I too noticed our mother making her way towards us.

“We’re going to order dessert, are you two about finished out here? It’s too cold to be wandering about outside, boys.”

“Sure, Mum, we’ll be right in,” I assured her. Before watching her turn around and walk back towards the restaurant.

“Well, we best head in then. It’s chuffing freezing out here, anyway,” Andrew told me, rubbing his hands together trying to warm them.

Surprising myself, I suddenly started smiling. What I thought was going to be an incredibly boring way to celebrate Christmas day, stuck inside a stupid restaurant with my family – most of which, I hadn’t seen in ages – instead of being at home, nice and warm in front of the TV and admiring my new presents. And yet, here I was, for the first time letting out this big secret part of my life to someone else. To my older brother, Andrew. A guy I thought I knew very little about. He now knew much more about me than anybody else did, and what’s more, he was really cool about it too. And it felt really, really good! It changed my outlook on a lot of things. It reassured me that I really could rely on my family when times got tough. And that despite us being distant lately, my big brother still cared a lot about me, and he knew me well enough to know when things weren’t too well in my life. I loved him so much for that, and that I appreciated him so much more than I had only yesterday, or even just a few hours earlier. Sure, I missed out on the chance to get to know that beautiful dark haired Adonis, but like Andrew said, there’ll be plenty of more opportunities out there. Or so I hoped. I felt a lot more positive about where the future might be taking me now. As long as I have my family close by to offer me support and encouragement when I needed it, I felt pretty confident about that too.

“What you so happy about, you freak?” Andrew asked, playfully shoving me to one side.

“Thanks Andy,” I told him.

“Thanks for what?”

“Well, just being you,” I replied.

“Who else am I supposed to be, dork?”

“Shut up, you geek! You know what I mean,” I told him. “I’m glad that you’re my brother.”

“Me too, Mike,” Andrew replied, throwing his arm over my shoulder as we made our way back inside.

 

The End

 

Published January 2, 2016

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