GENRE: Gay Romance
LENGTH: 12,153 words
What does a gay son do when his parents tell him a fundamentalist Christian college bent on developing ministers is his only choice?
Marty feels conflicted, scared, and miserable, but once on campus, he finds himself infatuated with someone he has to room with when he stays on campus over Thanksgiving break.
At first glance, Marty thinks Troy is straight. But incidents and innuendoes develop between them, touchings and brushings, double entendres, and off-campus escapades in the snow. Is Troy gay, too, or hopelessly heterosexual?
To find out, Marty hatches a plan to uncover the truth. Will the perfect Christmas gift determine their future together?
I didn't see another soul as I came to the boardwalk and walked on to where the marshes began and beyond that to the area behind the hospital where the swamp was supposed to suck you into eternity. Hah, I laughed at my choice of words. I wondered what that might be like, although I had a pretty good idea from what Jerome had been telling me. I shuddered, but it hadn't clouded over or gotten chilly at all. I came to a narrow trail into the marsh, and taking a deep breath, started off onto it, into the swamp. I had never felt so lonely and devastated in my life.
I won't bother you with the gory details of my gloom and despair and woe-is-me pity party, either you've had your own or you won't understand. But I marched into the gloom and the ground became wetter and the mud became softer and more like glue. After a while I realized I had on my only good pair of shoes and was vain enough to think, Oh crap! My good shoes! And there's church tomorrow! And then I laughed. And then I tripped. And then I was on my face in the mud, sobbing.
All I heard was a bird, but it sounded like it was calling my name. There weren't any wild parrots around here, were there? I opened my eyes, which was a mistake, but my tears kept my eyes from getting completely ruined by the mud. And then there was a touch on my arm and a firm hand gripping my elbow, and I was pulled to my feet. Behind me a voice muttered, "That old man was right. It was so odd running into him out here like that and he pointed me toward this path and just said, "Go," and then I swear when I looked back there was nobody there. Maybe it was a bird?" and then louder, and another arm snaking around my waist, the voice was next to my ear and I heard, "Come on, this won't do at all. I'm getting cold and this is my best shirt and I'm not going back unless I take you with me."
When I turned around, a man with the kindest eyes I'd ever seen was staring deeply at me, concern wrinkling his forehead, and mud splashed all over his best shirt -- it was Tory. Totally humiliated, I leaned against him and cried against his chest, allowing all my mixed emotions full play, both grief and shame, and pleasure as well, oh yes, being held by a man like this. It put life back into my heart and hope back into my spirit. Even if it never came to anything more than this with him, there were others, I knew that in my head, and now, I knew it in my heart. I got to thinking of the song I'd heard called "Just One More Day," and knew I could do that, day by day, like a twelve-step program. One day at a time. One more day. And things had to change sooner or later. I knew that.
Not only did Tory walk me back to campus, he came in my dorm with me and laughingly told my roommates how we had been wrestling and had fallen into the lake. He made it sound all macho and manly, and it was all I could do to smile and nod. Then he pushed me into the bathroom and told me he'd see me at supper and that we could have a rematch anytime. I was confused because I knew he was a runner but hadn't known he was on a wrestling team, and it never dawned on me that he was making it up to make me look good.
Just as he turned to leave, he said quietly, "Don't hurt yourself or even think about it, or I'll report you to campus ministry, and you'll have to deal with them. And me as well. Don't let me down, okay?"
I had to agree. He cared, and that was reason enough for me to keep going on this one day at a time thing that had popped into my mind.
It was while in the shower that I realized I was in love with this man. And if it wasn't love, I didn't care. Lust, love or gratitude, my heart, spirit and dick were in agreement. I hadn't had a crush on anyone since tenth grade, and I almost fell to my knees -- not to pray, and not to give thanks, but because my knees started to shake. There was no need to pretend, no ability to fake an interest in campus girls anyway, and I was glad that part of my life was over, but also, not that I was going to continue to live my life, scared to death. And that made me laugh.
I laughed so much that Jerome shouted, "Well at least we know you're not jacking off in there!"
Little did they know.