WOO MORE STORY. I've written the least amount of Rick chapters...
It was getting harder not to notice.
I viewed Dare differently. Something changed in the way I saw him when I entered high school. He stuck out in a crowd, with his blue eyes being so easy to spot. I anticipated… no, I looked forward to his smiles. His laugh got stuck in my head. I found myself staring at him in class, when we walked together, when we passed in the hallway… And my heart, when he touched my shoulder, I…
No. This isn’t… No, stop thinking like that. This is nothing, I thought to myself. This is just… We’re only friends. Close friends. And that’s all. That is all…
Someone shook me by the arm, snapping me back into reality with a start. I turned to see who it was, and flinched when I realized it had been Dare. Of course it was… he sat next to me in this class.
“Uh… The teacher’s asking you a question,” He informed.
I looked up abruptly; Mr. Ipkiss, the geometry teacher, did not wear an amused expression.
“O-oh… I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention…” I mumbled with embarrassment.
“Is that so?” Mr. Ipkiss remarked with a hint of sarcasm, emphasizing on the final syllable. “What was your name again, son?”
“It’s Rick, sir…”
He turned back to the class and continued the lesson. “Yes, is there anyone here besides Mr. Rick who can tell me what a quadrilateral is?...”
I sighed and leaned back in my seat.
Dare nudged me, causing me to start again. He looked strangely at me.
“You okay, man? You’ve been acting kinda weird,” he whispered.
I nodded and replied weakly, “Yeah, I’ve just been having some trouble focusing lately… don’t worry about it.”
“You wanna talk about it? Maybe during lunch or something…”
“No really, it’s fine, Dare--”
“Mr. Rick?” Mr. Ipkiss’s voice rose from the front of the classroom. His eyes stared sternly above his glasses frames.
“S-sorry…” I managed.
“Afterschool,” Dare whispered quickly to me and concluded the discussion.
“You know, people are being really annoying lately,” Dare was saying. He was bent over with his head in his locker, assumedly looking for a book he meant to put in his bag.
Popping his head out and looking up at me, he continued, “They’ve been making the strangest assumptions about me.”
The halls were almost completely clear of other students, except for the sports lobby filled with the kids on sports teams and other extracurriculars. Dare and I both stayed afterschool to study in the library. We stayed until a little after 5, when we decided it was time to pack up and go home.
“What do you mean?” I inquired off Dare’s earlier statement.
“What I mean is,” he paused to stand up straight and shrug his backpack on before continuing, “everyone thinks I’m gay or something.”
I predicted as much. “Dare, I told you if you start dressing like this--” I waved a hand at his clothing, “people are going to think you’re weird.”
He pouted. “I didn’t think you meant that.” We started down the hallway.
I sighed. Sometimes he could be a little dense, but that was okay for him. He didn’t mean anything by it; he just thought like a kid.
“But I mean,” he continued fervently, “if I wasn’t gay last year, why would I be this year?”
I fiddled with my cap. “Maybe it just happens suddenly.”
“Does it?” He asked doubtfully.
I shrugged. “I don’t know…” I answered quietly and hung my head down. I don’t know…
Dare took notice to me. “Hey… Rick.” He touched me on the arm to get my attention; I jerked away again.
When I looked at him, his eyes were looking attentively at me. And a little concerned. He had the kind of eyes where you could tell almost exactly what he was thinking when you gazed in them.
“Sorry, I--” Dare cut me off.
“Really, is something wrong? You’ve been acting weird since school started.”
I stood silently.
“You can tell me.” His head flipped to the left, then to the right, checking out the hallway. “There’s no one here, okay? Can you tell me?”
“No Dare, I’m fine. It’s okay--”
“Is it a secret? A family thing? I won’t tell anyone, I promise. I’ll listen.”
“I don’t want to tell you!”
My voice echoed off the walls; the air rung in my ears. Dare backed off, and stuck his hands in his hoodie pockets.
“Rick…” he finally said. His voice came out weakly, almost a mumble. “I’m just worried is all…”
I said nothing for a while. I glanced down the hall to see if anyone was around, and when the coast was clear I spoke.
“Do you really want to know, Dare…” I sounded as small as a mouse.
He nodded and came in a little closer to secure the secrecy. “Yeah. We’re friends, it’s okay.”
“I-i…” my voice got stuck in my throat.
Stop it. Stop it, stop it, stop it. Don’t say it, don’t say anything.
I gulped and tried again. “I…”
Don’t say it. It’s nothing. This isn’t anything. Don’t say anything. You’re not—
“I-i… I think I’m… gay…”
Dare looked as if he didn’t hear me right. “What…?”
“I-I’m, I’m gay, Dare. I like… boys.” And I blushed ashamedly.
I spoke softly. I didn’t want to challenge. I didn’t want to offend.
It happened anyway.
Dare’s face put on an expression I had never seen before: a mixture of confusion, worry, dread, and dislike. Dislike…
“B-but you… you… why?” he stuttered. I don’t know if he expected an answer, but I opened up and I tried to give him one. He didn’t want it.
“I…” He pivoted in the other direction. “I need to go home. I’m going… I’ll see y-- um… b-bye.” He ran off, flustered.
I hit my back against the wall and crouched into a ball. My face hid in my knees. My teeth hurt, my nose stung, my eyes burned, but more than anything my head ached. And it felt hollow in the pit of my stomach.
I shouldn’t have said… I said to stop. I’m sorry, I’m sorry…
The tears felt warm when they first ran down my cheeks, but they left behind a bitter cold trail.