After the meal my parents went home in their car and I stayed in town. It was pretty hard to convince them to let me stay myself but after I told them that I had something that I had to finish up at work they let me go. My dad made sure to give me his sternest warning look, which was no doubt a clear message to me to stay away from Cameron, before he left. I wish I could’ve kept away from Cameron like my dad wanted but I really needed to see him, especially after everything that had happened today. In the end I didn’t go straight to Cameron’s house like I’d initially planned, I instead walked around town for a while, just letting the cool autumn air try and calm me down inside.
When, after almost an hour, that failed to work I hailed a taxi and got it to Cameron’s apartment. The streets were mostly quiet with the occasional car driving by but for some reason the taxi ride felt like it took longer than it actually should have. Everything that I’d been trying to bury in my mind was building up, leaving me feeling like I was going to explode. I had a plan in mind for when I saw Cameron but I just wasn’t sure that I could go through with it. Even though the drive had felt long I still didn’t feel even half way prepared by the time the taxi pulled up in front of Cameron’s apartment block, a place I’d been lots of times before in the span of mine and Cameron’s friendship. I paid the driver, who gave me a weird look when my hand shook as I was handing him the money, before I climbed out of the taxi on shaking legs.
I slowly walked over to the building’s front door where the buildings intercom was situated but I froze before I could press Cameron’s number. What would I say to him? Sure, I’d said I forgave him earlier but would he really want to see my right now? What if he had friends over? What if he had his girlfriend over? He’d never explicitly said that he had a girlfriend but the way he acted told me everything I needed to know; if he didn’t have a girlfriend then he was most definitely crushing hard on someone. He’d never hinted at who it could be though so I did my best to stay out of his business until he felt ready to tell me. Suddenly my plan didn’t feel as right. I no longer felt like I should go through with my plan. I could just walk away and pretend I was never here tonight with no one being none the wiser.
Unfortunately, at that moment Cameron decided to walk out of his building, just narrowly missing walking into me.
“RJ! What are you doing here?” he asked, almost sounding like he was in shock. I didn’t really blame him. Why was I stupid enough to come here in the first place? Oh yeah, because I was completely stupid.
“I…uh…I came to see you actually…but you look busy so I’ll just…see you at work tomorrow” I ended up babbling under his inquisitive stare, trying desperately to find a way out of this situation as quickly as possible. I really shouldn’t have come here.
“Nah, that’s okay. I was just going out for a run but I can skip it tonight if you wanna come up” he motioned towards his 3rd floor apartment as he spoke. I looked down at my feet, taking note of the dark grey sweatpants and beige coloured t-shirt that Cameron was wearing as my eyes travelled downwards. I’d completely forgotten about his nightly run when I’d impulsively decided to come over here.
I really wanted to just turn away from him and run back home with my tail between my legs like the coward I was but before I could even move an inch Cameron had slipped his hand into mine and began pulling me towards his building. It felt weird holding his hand after weeks of no contact between us whatsoever. My mind was screaming at me to object and pull my hand away because of what my dad had said earlier but I liked it. He was my friend and I couldn’t just give that up because of my parents’ views on his family. Cameron had been nothing but nice to me the whole time I’d known him, apart from his one slip up when he was drunk in his office but that was easy enough to forgive especially as I’d recently found out from Ronald that Cameron’s mother was dying of a terminal illness. Ronald hadn’t really gone into what illness she had or how long she had left but he had told me that she’d been admitted to the hospital and that it didn’t look likely that she would ever get out. Ronald hadn’t really seemed that comfortable speaking about Mrs Connors condition so I’d let the subject drop and walked away, only knowing the basic details. I’d felt hurt at the time because I would’ve thought that me and Cameron were close enough for him to have been the one to tell me but after thinking it through for a few days I realised how selfish and horrible I was being. It was Cameron’s right to keep that his mother was dying to himself if he wanted to.
“So…um…I didn’t think I would see you again after your dad came out and…um…warned me off” Cameron said with complete sincerity once we were inside his apartment. The journey up had been a quiet one but it was still somehow comfortable. I didn’t really know what to say to that because a part of me, most likely the part that was still trying to make up for my mistakes to my parents, was desperate for me to leave and never come back.
“I…I’m sorry about that” I mumbled the first thing that came into my head, refusing to meet his eyes as I did so. I heard him walk further into his apartment and flop down onto his sofa like he usually did when we hung out here. I slowly followed behind him and took the farthest seat away from him on the sofa instead of my usual seat right beside him, pulling my hat off and letting some of my hair tumble down as I did so. This whole thing was hard enough as it was without the unneeded worry of my sitting beside him.
“Well, either way it’s an honour to be in your company” Cameron grinned, joking around in his usual manner. He was never serious for more than 5 minutes at a time. In my opinion that was one of his best qualities because no matter what you just couldn’t stay down or unhappy whenever you were around him. “What can I do for you tonight?” he asked, a tiny bit of seriousness mingling in with the joking. His boyish grin was still plastered on his face though.
“I…I heard about your mother; I’m sorry” I muttered the first thing that came to my head instead of saying what I really wanted to say. He paused briefly and his grin slipped a little but he didn’t look as upset as I’d feared. I think I looked more upset than he did. His mother had finally passed away last week and the Connors’ had barely been seen around the office since.
“It’s okay, really” he smiled down at me, trying to cheer me up. “I’ve known for a long time now and I grieved her death a while ago so I’m determined now to celebrate her life and spend as much time with her as possible while she is still here” he continued, still smiling down at me. A small bit of sadness lingered in his eyes but mostly he looked kind of resigned.
“Is that…is that why you came into work drunk?” I whispered as quietly as I could possible manage. I was scared of asking the question because I really didn’t want to hit a raw nerve but instead of blowing up again like I’d thought he would Cameron just laughed it off.
“Something like that” he muttered, an edge of some emotion I couldn’t quite figure out in his voice as he laughed my question off. He put his head down, that same smile still on his face but fading rapidly. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked him after all. He seemed to have more of a response to this than when I’d asked about his mother. I had a feeling that I was right about whatever this was being a raw nerve for him.
I shuffled over in my seat so that I was closer to him and reached out and gently placed my hand on his arm in an act of friendship and reassurance. Cameron lifted his head to look at me, a sadness I didn’t understand in his eyes as they met mine. He placed his hand over the one I had on his arm. The warmth from his hand was a really startling contrast to the rest of my ice cold body. I don’t think my actual body was much colder than it normally was this time of year but inside I felt frozen so that might have been why I felt so cold. I looked down at Cameron’s hand covering mine and felt an overwhelming sadness flow through me, startling me so much that I involuntarily flinched away from him.
“Are you okay, RJ?” he asked softly. It seemed like he was being extra careful with what he was saying so as not to offend me or upset me even further. His face was only inches from mine. My mind was urging me to close those few inches separating us and carry out my plan to become normal again but in my heart I knew I could never do that to Cameron. He was my best friend and I knew deep down that I couldn’t use him like that, no matter how much trouble it got me in with my parents.
“I just…no” I finally admitted in a small whisper. I couldn’t go on lying to everyone. I couldn’t go on lying to myself. I could hide everything away inside for all of eternity if I really wanted but that did nothing to change the fact that it had still happened and that I still felt guilty about it every second of the day. The tears that I’d been holding back for the past 5 minutes fell freely down my cheeks in an unceasing flow.
“What…what’s wrong?” he asked gently, almost seeming as afraid to ask as I had been when I’d asked him about that time in his office. I took in a deep breath to try and steady myself but really I knew I was just trying to buy myself some time before I had to tell him and he started to hate me.
“Please don’t hate me” I begged him, speaking so rapidly that I wasn’t sure he properly understood what I’d said.
“Whatever it is RJ, you can tell me; I’d never, ever, hate you no matter what it is” he spoke calmly. His hand reached out to grab mine and give it a reassuring squeeze. I sort of partway believed what he was saying because it really did sound like he meant it but once he found out what I was hiding there was really no chance that he’d stick to what he’d just said. He wouldn’t have a choice in the matter. I mean, how could he still be friends with me after finding out the truth? I wasn’t ready to tell him, I wasn’t really ready to tell anyone, but at the same time I didn’t want to have to bottle it all up inside of myself anymore. I didn’t want to be alone anymore.
“S…something happened about a month ago” I paused to let that sort of sink in. I looked away from Cameron down to my hands which were beginning to fiddle with the hemline of my top which was a sort of nervous habit of mine. Cameron didn’t say anything but he didn’t move away from me either so that gave me the prompt I needed to carry on with my story.
“It was the night before what happened in your office and I…um…I ran away to this bar on the outskirts of town to get away from my parents for the night. I ended up running into an old, I guess you could call her, friend though I hadn’t seen since we were at school together.” I had to stop again because it was getting harder and harder to tell him. We were getting to the part now where he would surely start to hate me and I really didn’t want to tell it. I knew where this story was headed; with me ending completely on my own again, but oddly enough he seemed to know where it was headed too. Had he realised that I was wrong in the head a long time ago? If so, why was he still friends with me? Unless…did he really not care or did he just not know and I was reading too much into things? Either way I wouldn’t really know until I finished telling him my story.
“She…she kissed me and in the shock of it a…all I…I kissed her back” I felt so ashamed having to tell him what had happened that night. A weird sort of tension sprung up from literally nowhere while I was speaking. I had partly expected the tension from Cameron but I hadn’t expected the misery that seemed to radiate out of him. I sort of wondered what that was about but I was far to wound up by my own problems to ask him.
“This was almost a month ago so how is it affecting you now?” he asked after a brief moment of tense and awkward silence between us. His voice came out in a harsh, broken, whisper that made me want to just stop telling the story altogether and forget this whole night had happened. Was this the time that he was gonna start hating me; before I’d even gotten around to telling him the worst part? He wasn’t moving away from me but at the same time he also didn’t look like he could take much more.
“It’s not that, exactly. I mean, that was bad and wrong and horrid but I…ever since I’ve been having these dreams” I quickly noticed that I’d begun rambling and that my voice was coming out sounding really choked up and anxious but I couldn’t stop any of it anymore. It was like someone had turned on a tap which couldn’t be turned back off until everything had come out.
“The dreams are sort of like what happened in the bar, only much worse. They happen every single night without fail and they aren’t about my friend either which probably makes the whole thing that much worse. ‘Cause if it was about her I could probably put the whole thing down to shock or a delayed reaction or something but with this other…person I can’t. I mean, I’ve only ever had a handful of conversations with this person but I can’t sleep and I can’t stop thinking about her either. The guilt, of what I’ve done and what I want to do, is eating me up inside” I rambled in rapid succession, my tears streaming even harder down my cheeks. I was panting by the time I’d finished speaking. I was terrified to look up from my hands to see Cameron’s reaction. It really didn’t help that he was being deathly silent about the whole thing so I had no clue as to what he was feeling inside.
“Do you…do you hate me?” I asked in a frightened whisper. I still couldn’t look up at him. I heard him shuffle slightly in his seat before I felt his warm hand cup my cheek, his thumb moving back and forth in a doomed effort to wipe away my tears. He lifted my head so that I had to meet his eyes. Surprisingly his eyes didn’t show the hatred that I’d expected; they only showed compassion and understanding.
“RJ, please believe me that I could never, ever, hate you” Cameron replied, his voice so full of assurance and sheer honesty that it made my tears flow faster than before. What had I ever done to deserve such an amazing friend like Cameron? Why had I ever thought that Cameron wouldn’t understand and hate me? Looking at him now I knew without a doubt that all my fears about him had been wrong. He was the perfect person I could’ve came to about what was wrong with me because, I don’t know if he agreed with it or not but regardless of his personal feelings, he was still trying his best to help me.
“And anyone who does hate you for who you are just aren’t worth it anyway” he spoke again, his voice lower and slightly sadder than before but still as honest and trustworthy. I felt slightly better after having unloaded most of what I was going through on Cameron but I still felt that same churning feeling inside, it felt like I was going to burst.
“But they’re my parents” I burst out in my misery. I wasn’t sure why I was telling Cameron this part because it really didn’t have anything to do with anything apart from making me feel guiltier than I already was but there it was.
“I’m sure they’d understand if you told them what you’d just told me” Cameron’s reply was almost instantaneous which made me think that he hadn’t really meant it. It was almost too quick to be a genuine assurance rather than a throwaway phrase to make me feel better about myself.
“Okay, so maybe your parent’s won’t be as accepting as others but you are their only child; I’m sure if you give them a while to come to terms with it they will accept you for who you really are” he finally acknowledged after a few careful seconds to mull it over. This at least sounded genuine enough for me to partially believe him if it weren’t for the fact that I knew my parents so much better than that. Maybe my dad would eventually grow tolerate it, but never accept it, if I gave him years to work through everything but I knew without a single doubt that my mother never would. She’d be the one to throw me out and disown me which would make my dad follow suit. I couldn’t go through that; I just wasn’t strong enough.
Noticing Cameron’s hand was still on my face as he tried to continuously wipe away my ever flowing tears I pulled away from him. I turned away from him on the sofa and kind of curved into myself. My heart hurt, my eyes stung and I felt like I just might burst if this kept going on. I wanted to be normal so I never had to feel this way ever again. This was worse than torture because there was no way to possibly turn this off. Cameron reached out to place a hand gently on my shoulder but I flinched away from him. Even a single touch would be too much for me in my current fragile state.
“Who is she?” he asked softly a few short moments after I’d flinched away from his touch. He didn’t say anything else or try touching me again but from the tone of his voice it was obvious that he was asking about the girl from my dreams. Without even really meaning to I began freaking out again. I couldn’t tell him it was Corrin. That would most definitely be crossing a line that really shouldn’t be crossed. Best he thinks it was some random girl I ran into in town or something than know the truth. I wasn’t so sure if he would be as accepting of me if he knew that I dreamt about someone from work.
“You don’t know her so it doesn’t matter” I quickly said to cover myself. He didn’t seem to notice anything amiss, or he never said anything at least.
“Do you…uh…do you think about her often?” he asked softly, his voice full of the awkwardness that had suddenly filled the space between us. I wasn’t sure why but I felt really awkward and uncomfortable talking to him about this. Why was that? I’d never had trouble taking to Cameron about anything before so why would it suddenly become an issue now? Was it because I, myself, wasn’t comfortable with this subject? Was it because I really wanted to never have to talk about this subject and pretend it never existed in the first place? I really wasn’t sure. The one thing I was sure of though is that I really didn’t want to be saying the words that came out when I did eventually open my mouth.
“She’s all I can think of and…I…I think it’s driving me insane” I whispered the words I didn’t want to be saying, almost as if whispering them would make them less true. My tears which had begun to stop started up again faster than ever. I already felt drained even though I’d been in Cameron’s apartment less than an hour. I didn’t like this. I‘d thought that opening up to someone about everything would make me feel free but instead it weighed me down even more.
“Do you…” he paused as he took an audible gulp before he continued “Do you get butterflies in your stomach whenever you think about her and want to be around her all the time?” he eventually managed to ask although his voice did come out sounding kind of rough and emotional; like he’d just been crying. To that I couldn’t even form a verbal response. Instead I just nodded my head in utter embarrassment without meeting his eyes. Neither of us seemed to have a response to that because we ended up sitting in a very uncomfortable silence for a while after.
“What’s wrong with me?” I cried out after a while, breaking through the awkward silence that lingered between us. Everything that we’d been talking about was just piling up and my head and it was making me wish I was normal so badly. I would have done anything at that moment to be normal and to have feelings for a boy like everyone else my age. Was I just going through some weird stage that all teenagers went through or was I an anomaly; a freak? All answers were pointing at the latter. While I was having my mini meltdown Cameron was still sitting right beside me looking slightly freaked out but still he reached his arms out to me and pulled me into an, oddly comforting given my current situation, hug.
“Shh, there’s nothing wrong with you” he whispered softly into my hair as he held me. I was about to object to his words because there had to be something if I was feeling like this.
“You’re just in love with this girl. I know it’s not what you want to hear but it’s true” Cameron continued in the same soothing voice as before but his words were anything but comforting to me. I immediately sprung away from him but I think he’d been expecting this reaction from me because he just let me go.
“I’m not like that!” I hissed at him, venom lacing every word I said. Cameron stayed sitting on the sofa while I shouted at him. He didn’t seem fazed at all by my yelling.
“Raven-Jay” he tried to soothe me a few seconds after I’d stopped shouting.
“I’m not g…” I started to yell at him but I couldn’t even say the word. My whole body was trembling and my tears fell in increasingly fast streams down my cheeks. My legs shook so hard that I couldn’t keep myself upright anymore so I ended up collapsing into the chair opposite the sofa Cameron was still sitting on. Cameron moved as if to help me when I fell into the chair but he pulled back at the last minute and remained sitting on the sofa.
“Say the word” he whispered to me. Even from across the room his voice sounded like it was taunting me. His voice sounded just like my mother’s at that moment.
“No, I’m not g…” I screamed at him, my hands fisting desperately in the hemline of my sweater.
“Say it” he whispered again only this time he was sitting on the floor right in front of my seat. He reached out and gently prised one of my hands away from my sweater and held it gently but firmly in his. I felt battered. I felt drained. I felt defeated. All that combined with his simple touch broke me.
“Gay” I whispered finally, my voice showing every inch of how low and defeated I actually was. “I’m gay” I whispered, feeling a piece inside of me wither and die as I spoke those words I knew I should never have uttered.
Without a single word Cameron grabbed a hold of my other hand and pulled me down into his arms again. He wrapped his arms around me as I pulled myself into a ball and wept for everything I’d just lost just by uttering those words. He didn’t say a single thing the entire time he held me, he just offered unwavering support and comfort and for that I knew, even at that moment when I was at my lowest, I would be forever grateful to him. He held me for hours, until I had no tears left to cry. Even then I still couldn’t move from the comfort of his arms because I knew that when I did everything would all come crashing down on me. In his arms I could just pretend it had all been a dream; like he was a barrier between me and the rest of the world, but once that was gone I would have to face the repercussions of my crumbling world.
“I need to go home” I groaned miserably after another hour had passed us by with Cameron holding me together. My voice was kind of harsh and scratchy after not speaking and crying for so long but I think Cameron understood what I was trying to say.
“You don’t have to, you can crash here for a couple of days” he offered almost immediately which was very sweet of him. I seriously didn’t deserve as good a friend as Cameron had been to me. I was even more grateful to him for his offer because he wasn’t just offering me a place to sleep for a few days but he was also offering me a way out of returning to the real world for a while longer. I could take his offer, I was really tempted to, but if I did what did that make me? I shook my head slowly where it was buried against Cameron’s chest, almost regretting it as I did.
“Do you need me to drop you off?” he asked without hesitation, his voice never changing from before. Cameron really was the type of friend I’d often wished I’d had when I was a kid getting bullied at school and neglected at home. I nodded my head, wishing that I’d been telling him to forget it instead.
He slowly helped me up onto my, still slightly unsteady, legs and once he was sure that I could stand okay he took my hand and walked me out of his apartment and down to the garage where his car was kept. We were quiet the whole way to my parents’ house but Cameron did hold my hand the whole way there which made the whole ordeal so much better. No other words were said between us when the car halted to a stop but Cameron did give my hand a light squeeze before he finally let it go and his eyes relayed all the compassion and understanding from earlier to me now which made me feel a little better. I got out of the car, my legs still shaking, and walked the short pathway to the front door. Just opening the door was daunting to me after everything I’d gone through tonight but knowing my parents would be in bed and I wouldn’t have to see them until tomorrow gave me that extra little push I needed to stop my hands from shaking and unlock the door. Once inside the house I bolted upstairs only stopping long enough to close and lock the door behind me. Once upstairs in my room I went over to the window and noticed that Cameron’s car was still outside the house. A part of me wondered if he was waiting on me to change my mind. If so, that was incredibly sweet of him. I was just too tired to really take it in. I think I managed a quick wave to him before I collapsed onto my bed and everything went black.
So there it is. I’m so sorry it took me 7 months to get this out but hopefully the chapter’s long enough to make up for my absence. I honestly never planned to not post for so long so I’m sorry. It shouldn’t happen again (although I’m not making any promises ‘cause I always end up breaking them). Hope you enjoyed the chapter anyway.