My feet move blissfully across the hot concrete while I observe my surroundings. It seems like a good day. The sun glistening from above us. My boyfriend and I. Yes. It’s a good day.
“It’s a good day, isn’t it?” I deliver my thoughts to my significant other.
“A good day, indeed.” He looks at me and smiles.
Perfect. This day is perfect. The birds are chirping along to the beat of my heart. The beat of a heart in love. At least I think it’s love I’m feeling. I’m in love right? I’ve never been in love, so I guess I’m not really sure. I’m not sure of anything. Literally. I haven’t mentioned my boyfriend’s name because I don’t know his name. I should know his name. I don’t even know where we are. It kinda looks like Central Park without the tall buildings surrounding it. I’ve always dreamed of Central Park without the buildings. It’s a nice view, but I’m tired of the chaos that is New York.
That’s weird. I’ve dreamt of everything around me. A boyfriend. No one looking at me like I deserve punishment. Central Park without the buildings. It’s like I’m living a dream. Is it a dream?
“Hey.” I look up at my boyfriend. “This is a weird question, but what’s your name?” I see his face, but it’s not really a face. It’s just a person. No features that would be considered unique to him.
“Tom? You should know that by now. We’re dating.” That accent. That name. He is not my boyfriend.
“Holland?” And there’s the face. He’s no longer a blank canvas. His face goes from nothing to almost a sculpted-like masterpiece. That is definitely the face I see on my wall every morning when I wake up. Yep. This is definitely a dream even though I wish it wasn’t.
“Dallas? Are you okay?” He looks over at me like I’m naked. I look down to make sure I am not. Thankfully, I am wearing the outfit I have been eying at that very expensive store in town.
“You’re not real. Well, you are very real, but this is not real. It’s all just a dream.” I point at him and then everywhere else. I point at the trees where buildings should be and the people minding their business while two guys are holding hands. I point at myself because I noticed that weight missing when I looked down at that outfit. I’ve always dreamed of being fit, but I know I’m not because I have failed to ever walk into a gym.
“What’s wrong with that? Dreams are fun. You get to be and do what you want.” I guess he isn’t wrong, but when I wake up, I will have to return to reality: the pool of sweat in my bed, the homophobic jokes I hear every day, and my fucked up brain that conjures up thoughts that it shouldn’t. My life isn’t a gleeful stroll through Central Park with my boyfriend, and I know it never will be. I have accepted that. If I keep dreaming about it, that acceptance will go away and everything will get bad again. It can’t get bad again.
“That’s just getting your hopes up though.” As I say that, I tune everything out, and instead plan how I’m going to wake up. The normal thing to do is pinch yourself, but I feel like that is too Disney sitcom. I wanna be an MTV show, so I instead slap myself. Unfortunately, Tom Holland is still staring at me as we walk on a never ending trail. That slap didn’t work.
I think Tom is talking to me, but like I said before, I am not listening. That is until I hear him say a nickname only one person is allowed to call me.
“Dal? Why did you just slap yourself?” I hate to admit it, but this is a Disney sitcom. As he speaks, his voice transitions to a voice I hear every day. It sounds like my best friend, Kayley, is trying to wake me up on the other side. Thank God.
Waking up from a dream is weird. One minute, you’re wide awake living inside your head, and the next, you’re slowly waking up with the urge to go back to sleep. Unfortunately, Kayley and I have plans today.
“You slept passed your alarm clock again.” I look over to my phone to see it is 11:34 AM. We made plans to meet at Central Park at noon. “I’ve called you several times, and I’ve texted you… just check your phone.”
I look back at my phone, and I see a text by Kayley with “39 more notifications” below it.
“You texted me 40 times?” I don’t expect anything less from her. Honestly, I was kind of surprised she didn’t hit the triple digits. She sure is slacking on her spam texting.
“Today is important. We can’t be late.” For something that seems to be important, it’s wild that I don’t even know what it is. It seems she noticed my curiosity and spoke up again before I could ask questions. “It’s a surprise. Just go jump in the shower. Now. You smell like a bucket of sweat.”
“You’re not wrong, but you didn’t have to roast me like that.” She definitely was not wrong. As I sit up in my bed, my shirt sticks to my skin like I am a scuba diver. I am definitely not a scuba diver.
“I say it because I love you.” She does her fake smile she always does. Why does she have to be so adorable? Too bad I’m gay. OH. I forgot to mention. No one, including Kayley, knows I am gay. It’s a secret that I am okay with keeping for now.
“Before you go, where is your TV remote? It’s too quiet in here.” She has never been one to like the quiet. One time, I was sitting quietly in the passenger seat of her car, and she panicked. She pulled over and began shouting at me. I’m still not sure what she was yelling. All I heard was “DALLAS!! You —– Scooby Doo!” I swear that’s all I heard. I haven’t asked her about it, but maybe I should.
“Here.” I throw her the remote, and then I walk towards my closet. “What’s the dress code for today?”
“Definitely something to impress.” She is scrolling through TV channels already. She’s always been picky with TV channels. I’ve watched her go through the channels several times and then finally settle on Netflix instead.
I grab the most impressive outfit I have, and then I walk into the bathroom. The shirt is definitely something a preppy white boy would wear, but I still like it. It has many vertical stripes varying in size and color. One second on Twitter and you are sure to see a trendy gay wearing this exact shirt. I want to be that trendy gay, but I guess I will have to wait a little longer. The pants I will be wearing is your basic white slim-fit jeans (don’t get this confused with skinny jeans). This is the perfect outfit to impress whoever I will be impressing.
Who am I impressing? I haven’t thought about that much. I guess the shower is a perfect time to think about that. It’ll keep my brain busy so it doesn’t drift off to the same depressing shit it always thinks about.
I jump in the shower with the water piping hot. Maybe I’m weird (I am), but I like to burn when I’m in the shower. You can judge me, but I am still going to do it.
Anyway, I’ve got to get down to business. Who am I trying to impress?
The obvious answer would be a boyfriend, but I know Kayley better than that. It is not a boyfriend. I have talked to her about how cool it would be to meet Tom Holland. She could’ve tricked him into coming to the park because he wouldn’t have shown up for one single fan. That would be cool, but I’m supposed to be living in reality. That is not reality. I am bad at this. Really bad.
I… Give… Up… (I give up way too easily.)
As I decide to give up, I feel the side of my brain I’ve been trying to keep off flicker to life. Oh shit.
“HEY. YOU ARE A CLOSETED GAY, AND YOU WILL NEVER COME OUT.” My brain doesn’t just bring up these thoughts. It screams them at me like it’s far away from me. “KAYLEY IS GOING TO HATE YOU IF SHE FINDS OUT.” I like to think she will support me, but my brain has convinced me otherwise. I don’t think I can handle her shouting homophobic slurs at me.
I wish my brain would talk about other stuff. I am tired of hearing about my fear of coming out. I am aware of what will probably happen. I am ready to be upset about other stuff.
“YOU WILL NEVER DATE ANYONE. YOU’RE TOO FAT, AND YOU’RE TOO AFRAID TO EVER OPEN YOUR MOUTH.” Thank you. Now I am looking down at my stomach that is currently hiding my feet. Everyone tells me I am not fat, but they don’t realize just how much I suck my stomach in. I kind of like how my stomach pokes out. It does upset me, but it’s also like a magic trick when it hides my feet. I often suck my stomach in and then I will allow my actual weight to show to see my feet disappear. I get amused way too easily. I also think I try finding anything to make it easier for me. I don’t want to be fat. I have to find something to ease my mind about it.
“Are you getting out soon? We need to hurry up.” Kayley interrupts my thoughts as I get soap in my eyes. I really need to learn how to take a shower. I am so bad at it.
“Just another minute.” I wash soap off of my body before turning the water off, The soap is still in my eyes, but I can keep my eyes closed for a minute. I know where everything is in the bathroom. I don’t have to see to get to the mirror.
Nevermind. I am very wrong. As I step out of the shower, I trip over the groove in the floor in between the shower and bathroom floor. Instead of opening my eyes and dealing with the pain, I keep my eyes closed as my body topples down like the tree in my backyard did when my dad chopped it down. I am such an idiot.
“Dallas? What the hell was that? Are you okay?” I hear her voice float from the other side of the room to my door. I act quickly.
“I’M NAKED!” I am not sure if she was planning on walking in, but I am not letting her see my body. She may shun me for the rest of my life. “Oh and I’m good. Just naked.”
I think I am good. My foot hurts and my eyes are still shut, but I am still breathing so I could be worse.
“Idiot. Get dressed!” She cares for me so much. I have the greatest friend ever.
I still do what she tells me even though she could’ve been a bit more thoughtful. I make my way to the mirror, and I take care of my eye before drying myself and getting dressed. I must admit that this outfit is definitely one to impress anyone. I will have no issue impressing as long as they see the outfit only. Maybe I could borrow some of Spongebob’s invisible spray. That would work out PERFECTLY. Sadly, this is not a Nickelodeon cartoon so I’m gonna have to show my face and my body. I shouldn’t say that. I don’t even think I am that ugly, but I still think for some odd reason that everyone will be disappointed with the way I look. Again, my brain hates me. You’ve heard that enough though. I am ready to disappoint.
I open the door and Kayley is back to sitting on my bed. As I suspected, she has already made her way to Netflix. She is watching an anime that I have never seen before. I would ask her what it is called, but I can’t say I really care for anime that much.
“Finally!” Kayley turns around and stops to stare at me for a moment. “Wow. You really did dress to impress. Lookin’ good.” She laughed afterwards so I don’t think she was hitting on me.
“Thank you.” I want to tell her how good she looks because she always looks amazing, but I have this fear that she will fall in love with me. I know it is very unlikely, but if she did fall in love with me, I would have to fake it because I’m not brave enough to do anything else. I would love to tell her how her black hair brings out the best in her facial features or how her style is better than anyone I have ever met. I would love to tell her that I would date her if I was straight because I definitely would. But I just can’t do that.
“C’mon. We should get going.” She gives me a smile that speaks to me. It tells me that she knows what I am thinking. It tells me that I can love whoever I want. Maybe she does know. She might even be okay with it, but I can’t trust a theory. I need to know that she will still love me.
I follow her out of my room and down the hall. It is weird how she always ends up being in the front, even in my house. My third grade teacher was right. I am definitely a follower.
Since no one else is home, I lock the door and hop in Kayley’s car. I would hop in my car if I had one. I don’t even have my license. I may be seventeen, but I just don’t think I can drive by myself. I have only drove with my parents a handful of times. I have either messed up or panicked for no reason every time. I don’t know if I will ever be ready to drive. It isn’t easy for me. Nothing is easy for me, but Kayley makes it bearable. I really wish I could tell her sometimes. I just don’t know if I could ever bring myself to do it. She is my only friend. What if she doesn’t want to speak to me? (Expect this topic to be brought up many times. It’s all my brain can think about anymore.)
“Kayley?” Don’t worry. I am not telling her. Yet. “You love me, right? As a friend?” I had to add that last part. I couldn’t let this backfire, and instead of putting myself at ease, give her a chance to confess her love to me.
“Of course. You’re an amazing friend. I’ll always love you.” She drags the last word like she is about to say something else, but she is silent. The only sounds that can be heard is the rumble from the car and the Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack whispering through the radio.
“Today won’t change anything, right?” I say that because I am afraid this person I am impressing will change everything between Kayley and I. Why would she be acting the way she is if this person isn’t going to change anything?
“Don’t worry. It’s just a little change.” She shares a quick smirky grin at me before continuing. (Keep your eye on the road!) “It’s small to say the least.”
There it is. She always manages to sneak in a Beauty and the Beast reference in every conversation. I guess it is fitting since the soundtrack is playing, but this isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. I can’t say it bothers me too much though. I’m guilty of doing it too. Beauty and the Beast is a damn good movie. It has the best music from any Disney movie. It is truly a work of art so it has a right to sneak into every conversation.
The good thing is I know everything will be okay. She wouldn’t quote Beauty and the Beast if it won’t.
Everything will be okay. I’ll have to keep that in mind going forward.
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I’m just a dood tryna figure myself out. I write about shows, movies, the LGBTQ+ community, Pop Culture, and my original fiction work!!