It was one of those warm, happy days in spring where everything simply looked, smelled and tasted all together right. Julia was at Michael's house, enjoying wasting the afternoon away in his company, just sitting and doing nothing. He, on the other hand, was not quite so relaxed. He put down the magazine he had been idly flipping through, not really reading, and turned so he could look directly into his girlfriend's warm hazel eyes.
"Julia," he began carefully, "Julia, there's something I need to talk to about. It's really important."
"Sure thing. What's up, babe?" she inquired, looking at him curiously.
"I-, well, ya see, the thing is… I think I'm-" He paused and swallowed hard.
"What's wrong, Mikey? C'mon, you know you can tell me anything." She smiled sweetly at him.
He cast his eyes down at his feet.
"I… I-I think I'm… …g-gay." The last word came out as a tiny whisper.
There was a long stunned silence.
'Gay? Gay? He's gay? How can he be gay? After ten years of friendship and two years of going steady, he suddenly tells me he's GAY?' Julia's mind was whirl, to say the least. Finally, she managed to breathe out:
"Gay? As in… you like guys? As in you don't like girls anymore? As in… you don't like me anymore?" There was nothing accusatory in her voice, just a soft sadness. He ran his hands through his light brown hair and bit his lip.
"I'm really sorry." he said, sounding as if he hated himself more than anything in the world.
She quickly cast about for words to make him feel better. Surely, whatever pain and confusion she was feeling, he was feeling tenfold.
"Well… it's not your fault." She struggled for the right words. "I mean, it's not like it's something you choose, right? Not like you can help it?"
"Of course it's not something I choose!" He was sounding perilously close to tears. "Do you think I want to have these feelings? Do you think I like having these feelings? I'm not even sure what they mean! I feel like I still like girls but not in the right way! What is the right way? Dammit, Julia. I'm just… confused."
His deep blue eyes were beginning to water.
She immediately put her arms around him and began to whisper words of comfort.
"Oh, Mikey, it'll be okay. I'm here for you. You're my best friend and, up until about two minutes ago, were my boyfriend. I love you. No matter what. I'll help you get through this. It'll be okay. I promise."
He wrapped his arms around her waist and held her close.
"Julia," he whispered into her inky black hair, "I need you. I need to know. For sure. Whether I'm… that way. You need to help me."
She pulled back slightly so she could look at him.
"What do you mean, exactly?"
"I know it's asking a lot, but I have to know. It's the only way."
"What's the only way?"
"One night. Just one night. That's all I'm asking. Just one."
Finally beginning to understand, her eyes widened.
"Michael, I don't know if I can- If I'm- Well, ready for-"
"My parents are gone for the night, won't be back 'till late afternoon tomorrow. Please. I have to find out. Just one night, baby."
One night. That was all he asked. Just one night that would change their relationship drastically, regardless of what way he found out he was. One night to either soothe his fears or truly bring them to life. One night to take away her most precious possession. One night was all it took.
She looked up at him, his eyes full of confusion, fear, and most of all, self-hatred. She saw all that and made her decision, simply saying:
"You'll need to get some type of… protection."
It hadn't been right. It just hadn't felt right. Mikey gazed down at Julia, who had fallen asleep shortly after it was done. Not being very experienced in these matters, Mikey wasn't sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing. He sighed and gently stroked her face.
'I'm still attracted to her. She's beautiful. If I still find her attractive, how can I be that way?'
But it wasn't the right kind of attraction. Nothing was right anymore. He still cared about her deeply but there was no denying. He simply hadn't taken pleasure from the act. Well, not that kind anyway. She had seemed happy and that had made him kind of happy, but it wasn't… good. He just simply knew that it hadn't been what it was supposed to be. He flopped back on the bed with a groan and covered his face with his hands. How could this be happening to him? He had been straight as goddamned arrow up until about two weeks ago. But then things started changing and he started seeing boys differently. Noticing things like the way they smiled and how nice some of his friends looked when they laughed. Things he shouldn't be noticing. And he hadn't wanted Julia anymore. Not truly wanted in the way he used to. Then there was gym. Oh, god, the locker room had nearly killed him. He remembered the first time going in there after his suspicions had begun. He had just frozen up in there. Standing stock still, keeping his eyes fixed on the lock to his locker, turmoil raging inside him.
'Oh, c'mon, just have a look around. You know you want to.'
'Eyes on the lock. Don't look anywhere else, just the lock.'
'Just a little peek. No one'll notice. You'll like what you see.'
'Shiny metal, just keep staring at that shiny metal.
'Just look to the left, real casual-like. So many nice boys, easily within your line of sight.'
'Focus on getting dressed. Put on your gym clothes, that's it. And don't take your eyes off that lock.'
'I think that's Eddie's voice, coming down the hall. Eddie with the cute smile. What a smile. He's probably about to start changing. Don't you wanna see?'
'The lock. The lock. Only the lock.'
Despite his best efforts, though, his eyes had strayed from the lock, as if pulled by magnets. After that, he started skipping gym class.
Now he looked at Julia again. She had fallen asleep with a light smile on her lips and she looked so peaceful and content that he started to feel an irrational anger towards her. 'How can she be so relaxed and happy when I'm sitting here going through the hardest time in my life? What happened to being here for me? What happened to helping me get through this? Cold, unfeeling, bitch, if she-' He cut off his own thoughts. He was being unfair and he knew it.
Julia began to stir, slowly opening her eyes.
"Oh, Mikey!" she cried out, "I'm so sorry I fell asleep! It was just… I was just… Oh, you know!"
He smiled at her and nodded.
"So," she said nervously, "How… how was… it? I mean! Oh, that's not what I meant! Did you… Are you…you know?"
He sighed. "Yeah… I'm pretty damn sure I am."
Luckily for Julia and Mikey it was the weekend so they both had a few days to contemplate all these things before they had to face the kids at school. They both agreed it would be best if Mikey did not tell anyone about his… preference. It would just cause unwanted problems. However, despite all there attempts to keep it quiet, things get around. Maybe someone saw Mikey acting strange in the locker room. Maybe a bigmouth overheard a conversation the two were having. At any rate, once someone said something, it spread like wildfire. Both of them were fairly popular, or at least most kids at school knew who they were, so it wasn't long before word got around that one of Jonan High School's cutest couples were breaking up because he liked to "play the other side of the game".
The two of them were quite unaware of this until one day they were eating lunch on the roof and Rachel, a girl whom they were both casual acquaintances with, came up and said,
"Hey, Mike, heard you like to swing on the other set."
He looked up at her in horror. He opened his mouth to say something but Julia was quicker to the punch.
"Where the hell'd you hear something like that?" she demanded angrily.
Rachel grinned. "Where didn't I hear it? It's all over the school."
Mikey looked at Julia, terribly hurt.
"Julia, how could you?"
"I didn't!" she cried, somewhat angrily, "It just must have gotten out somehow. These things happen."
"So, Michael, you like to pray for boys with your mouth wide open?" This comment came from a boy neither of them knew.
Mikey struggled for words to deny this but he was still in something of a shock. Julia on the other hand, was getting quite pissed.
"Why don't you just shut your fucking mouth?"
But then the comments just started flying. Just about everyone on the roof had something to say about Mikey's sexuality. He looked like he was about to break down and cry. Julia took his hand.
"C'mon, baby, let's go somewhere else."
He shook his head. "It's not… normal, is it? I'm not…"
"Oh, Mikey, don't listen to them. There's nothing wrong with it."
"Yes, yes there is. That's what my parents said…"
"I thought you weren't gonna tell them."
He sighed and closed his eyes. "I thought I should…"
"What'd they say?"
"My father said I was no longer his son and my mother said she never wanted to see me in the house again. I've been staying at a hotel for the past few days.
Julia hugged him tightly. "Mikey! Why didn't you tell me all this? You could've stayed at my house. I told you, I'm gonna help you get through this!"
"No…" he whispered, "No, you shouldn't have to. You should go out and have a normal life. Not constantly having to keep some queer from fucking up his."
He tore from her embrace and took off towards the edge of the building. Julia began to feel a cold feeling in the pit of her stomach.
He stood unsteadily on the edge, looking down. Nothing but cold, hard, concrete down there. It would do nicely.
"Michael, what are you doing? Please get away from there!" Julia had come up directly behind him and was looking at him with tears in her eyes. "Whatever you're thinking, don't! Just come here."
"Don't listen to her!" yelled one of the crueler boys, "Jump!"
"Yeah, jump you fucking faggot!" screamed someone else.
"Mikey, ignore them!" Julia cried, "Come here, it'll be okay."
He shook his head. "I- I've got to. They're right. I'm nothing but some goddamn pansy… You're going through all this shit because I don't know how to handle my own life."
Tears were now running openly down Julia's face.
"Please," she whispered, "Please don't do something like this."
He didn't really jump. He just stepped off, real carefully, like he didn't want to disturb the air by his presence. He didn't scream during the fall. He left the world without a single sound.
Julia fell to her knees in shock.
"Oh, Mikey…" she whispered, her shoulders shaking with sobs. "Oh, Mikey…"
No one can be entirely sure if Michael did this on purpose or if it was some strange coincidence, but the spot where he jumped off the roof was the exact spot they had shared their first kiss.