I stopped counting the days that Adriel did not return after six months. l had received no letters, no emails and no phone calls. The only news I received came directly from Principal Atwood's mouth as I wasn't allowed to call Adriel personally as per his request. The only things I had of his now were our memories together and the letter he had left me when he departed for Durban, which I kept safely in my underwear draw. By the end of the year I was convinced Adriel would return to Cape Town for the holidays but he didn't and I left for home without meeting him at the gate in the hedge that surrounded his house and without planting a goodbye kiss on his full pink lips. That was also the holiday l came clean with my family.
One evening after dinner when everyone had retired to their bedrooms I visited my parents. I sat on the edge of their bed, already almost in tears. The Words didn't spill from my mouth but rather trickled. I told them about my feelings towards Adriel and that I had always had these feelings ever since I was a young boy. My dad was convinced it was a phase but my mom was more open to the truth of the matter. My father didn't say another word and didn't look at me the entire time I sat there. That night my mom walked me to my room and tucked me into bed like she did when I was little. She told me that she loved me, that they believed me and that she would talk to my father about it. She wiped the tears from my cheeks before leaving the room. I tossed and turned the entire night, not able to shake the uncertainty of what would happen to me tomorrow. Whether my father would completely reject me, or accept it hesitantly, I couldn't tell. He was a difficult man to predict, traditional in his ways yet every now and then something about him would surprise me, his taste in music or his love for a particularly arbitrary film. He was definitely more complex than he let on and this gave me some hope that, even if he didn't accept me wholeheartedly, he at least wouldn't disown me completely.
I lay awake early the following morning. I listen to the birds chirping in the tree outside my window. As the sun rose, my room shifted from shades of black to dark blue and the objects it contained once again took shape out of the darkness. Then there was an opening and a closing a door, probably my parents as it sounded as though it had come from the end of the passage. The footsteps were light on the carpet and disappeared as the person disappeared down the stairs. Soon there were sounds coming from the kitchen, the closing of cupboards, and the clink of ceramics on granite counter tops. I sat up and reached for my t-shirt I had tossed on the floor next to my bed and pulled it over my head. I donned my slippers and too made my way to the kitchen. I heard the rhythmic scrape of someone mixing something in a bowl and turning the corner into the kitchen fully expected to see my mom up to her baking antics, which she usually started early in the morning. I stood dead still when I realised it was actually my father.
I stared at him and he stared at me. I wasn't sure what to say and I thought I would start crying again.
"Sit down," he said, "I'm making pancakes."
I did what he said, not wanting any conflict. There was a pitcher of orange juice on the table and I poured myself a glass, just so that I had something to do. My father carried on with his pancake making as I sat there, too afraid to say anything. Neither of us spoke. When he was done he brought a plate of perfectly cooked pancakes to the table and forked two onto my plate.
"Thank you," I said, but the words got caught in my throat and came out an inaudible mess. I lowered my head as tears finally found their way onto my cheeks. My father put the plate of pancakes on the table and I turned and reached for him, wrapping my arms around his waist as he stood next to me. I sobbed onto his hip. I felt his strong hands on my shoulders, firm, warm and comforting. His hands moved to my face and pulled it back from his body. I looked up at him with wet eyes and noticed that his eyes were wells of emotion too.
"I love you. You're my son. I will always love you," he said, wiping the tears from my face, "now eat up."
The next few weeks spent with my family at home were the happiest I could ever remember. Before coming out I often felt like a stranger in my own home. I always had to watch what I said, editing the words before they came of my mouth. In the past I was always reluctant about talking about the future. Ideas about having a girlfriend, getting married and having children, things that are so much more prevalent and sacred in the heterosexual community had always made me uncomfortable. Not because I didn't want to get married one day and have children, but because I wanted to do it with a man, something that I could never verbalise in a conversation with my family before. But now I could, and they could also understand that maybe I would never have children and that maybe I would never get married. But I wasn't quite sure how they felt about me marrying another man, not yet anyway. It felt great not having to hide parts of myself, I could just be completely open and my parents could finally know their son.
By the time it was mid-January 2006, and my 16th birthday had come and gone, it was time to pack up and head back to school. I packed my clothes, my camera equipment, and my growing portfolio of photographs. I was cleaning out my draws one by one when I came across Adriel's letter. It was lying all the way at the back behind my socks, and I realised I had not touched it since coming out. In fact, my thoughts hadn't really revolved around him since then. Now, there were other things to think about. Yes, I still hoped he was doing well and that he would return to Cape Town one day, but the thought of it no longer consumed me. The last few weeks had been revelatory. Before coming out, Adriel had been my escape, my shelter. I could be completely myself with him, no judgement. Now that I had come out, the world was my escape. I had important people who loved me for who I was and that was enough. If I didn't have to pretend for them anymore, I wasn't going to pretend for the rest of the world. I felt unburdened, weightless. I removed the letter from the draw and slipped it behind a photo in my portfolio, a black and white photo of Adriel. His face up close to the camera lens, dark-ringed irises piercing into the admirer's soul from behind silky, dark locks; eyes that knew pain and truth. I closed the album and placed it softly in my suitcase. The following morning I went for one final run around the neighbourhood before showering, wolfing down some breakfast and tossing my things into my dad's Land Rover. 4 hours later I was met by Isobella at Cape Town International Airport and was shuttled back to her place.
It was late afternoon and two days before school was to begin when I received a call from Rhys, who begged me to join him at a club that night. Usually you'd have to be 18 to get in, but his brother knew one of the people playing in a band that night, and he'd be able to sneak us in. I in turn begged my sister to let me go and sleep over at Rhys house that night, after we had gone to watch a "movie". I felt bad lying about where I was actually going, but idea of a club was exhilarating for a 16 year old. She finally relented and later that evening Rhys and his brother came to pick me up. The club was in an area called Gardens, and by the looks of the people lining up outside it, seemed kind of grungy. There was a lot of black and a lot of thick eyeliner. I could already here the thumping from inside but it was hazy, like I was listening to it from inside a glass box. We entered through a back entrance and had to walk through a cramped little kitchen where a small Asian man was washing tall glasses. As we got closer to the centre of the building, the glass box faded away and the mere thumping became clearly defined voices and complex electric guitar riffs. I looked at Rhys and he smiled back at me. We followed his brother to some couches at the back against one of the walls where a group of people sat, feet up on a coffee table littered with beer bottles and glasses of melting ice. Rhys's brother greeted someone, said something and then nodded over to us. The other guy came closer and greeted us. He was the lead singer of the band that was to go up next, and the same guy that got us into the club. We thanked him and he introduced us to his younger brother James, who like us was also in the 10th grade this year. Rhys's brother gave us each a beer and left us to go and talk to some blonde haired girl sitting on one of the other couches. Soon the band we had come to see was playing and the only people left on the couch was Rhys, James and me. We decided to get up and enter the mass of people near the stage. The music was electric and shocking. My eardrums buzzed, but it might have just been the alcohol. James looked over at me and smiled. He was beautiful. Dark eyes, blonde hair slicked back to expose a long face with prominent cheek bones. A sharp nose and long neck arose from a low cut black t-shirt. He was terribly skinny and the ribs on his upper chest were clearly visible. He came over and stood next to me. He put a hand next to my face and pressed a finger over my ear. He leaned in and shouted, "I'm going outside for a bit!" I nodded and followed him out of the club, the same way we had entered.
"I need to get a cigarette," he said as walked out into the alley behind the club.
"I don't think anyone would sell you cigarettes, you have to be 18," I said. He looked at me and laughed hysterically. I just stared at him, not sure what to say next. Clearly this guy knew things about life that I didn't.
"My brother has some in his van. It's this way," he said once he had composed himself.
When we had reached the van, which had the words "Rat Slayer" printed onto the side, he pulled out some keys from his back pocket and opened the passenger door. He climbed in and got into the driver's seat. I climbed in afterwards and sat in the passenger seat. I looked over at him but he was scavenging around the steering wheel and driver's side door for the cigarettes.
"I know it's here somewhere," he said and then held up a pack of Camels triumphantly in the air.
"Want one?" he asked.
"No thanks, I think Rhys will be looking for me. I don't think I should have left him alone in there." I said. I was definitely in two minds about James. Something was telling me to get the hell out of the van, while another part was telling me to stay, among other things. He handed me the cigarette. I took it hesitantly. I took a small drag and coughed about half my lungs out. James smiled and took back the cigarette.
"He'll be fine. He's enjoying the music way too much. It's pretty shit if you as me, generic. Their band name is Rat Slayer for fuck's sake."
"Why don't you say something to your brother?"
"I told him it's shit but he doesn't care what I think, so it makes no difference really."
"Do you make music?"
"What kind of music?"
"I play the cello."
"Really?" I asked, not sure he seemed the type who played cellos.
"Yeah, really," he said and pulled a bottle of vodka out from behind the driver's seat. He opened it and took a swig. He handed it over to me and I did the same. It burned like hell and I'm sure I would have seen him smirking had I not closed my eyes while trying to get the stuff down my throat.
"So, do you have a girlfriend?" he asked.
"No, I'm gay." I said. I was surprised at how blunt I was.
"Am I what?"
"Does is matter?"
"Yes, I'm gay."
He continued with the cigarette and I laid my head back against the head rest and watched him. His ears were pink in the unusually cold summer night air, as was the tip of his sharp nose.
"What?" he said when he noticed me looking at him.
"Nothing," I said, turning to look out of the front windscreen.
I looked back at him and he looked away from me. We sat in silence for what seemed like forever, cigarette smoke accumulating inside the van. Suddenly, I felt his hand on my knee. I put my hand over his and slowly pulled it up my thigh. The heat through my jeans was invigorating and I sensed that I needed more of it. I looked over at James. We reached over to each other and kissed. And then, in a jumble of arms and legs we were at the back of the van, entangled on the carpeted floor, breathless. I was unbuckling my belt and he was pulling off his t-shirt. He tossed it to the side and helped me pull down my pants. And then his hand was wrapped around my hard cock, stroking it. He lowered his head and took it slowly into his mouth, tentatively tasting it. The hot, wet softness of his mouth made me raise my knees on either side of his head and my hands reached fort he back of his head. His lips moved around my shaft sensuously and I could tell he had done this many times before, which in truth didn't really bother me. My cock had grown quite a bit over the last few years and must have been at least 7 or 8 inches by now. So I was quite impressed when he managed to get half of it down his throat, for such a small guy anyway. I closed my eyes and took in the feeing of his soft hair between my finger and the wandering tip of his tongue. I looked up to see his head bobbing up and down between my legs. The sight was more electric that the music in the club and even the hairs on my arm stood aroused. I closed my eyes for a second, and when I opened them again, he looked directly at me, the tip of my cock between his lips. For a split second his hair was pitch black and his eyes a shone blue in the light of the street lamp outside. I blinked again and the blonde hair and dark eyes had returned. I pulled him up to me and we kissed again. I turned him onto all fours and pulled his tight jeans down to his knees, to reveal a smooth, pearly white ass. I kissed his ass cheek and he arched his back in response. I caressed him with both hands, from his lower back, over his butt and down to his inner thighs. I brushed the tips of my fingers over his perineum and up into his crack, feeling for his hole in the semi-darkness. When I had found it I positioned my self on my knees behind him. I spat into my hand and lubed my cock and his ass.
"Are you ready?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said, "fuck me."
I pushed at his opening and it gave way slightly. I pushed in slowly, knowing that without proper lubrication it might take slightly longer than normal. I so I thought in my vast inexperience. He moaned in pleasure or pain, I couldn't quite tell, but he never asked me to stop. Soon, I felt myself being pulled in slowly, having gotten most of my cock inside him. I pulled out a bit and he moaned. I pushed in again slowly and he moaned even louder. I continued like this, with my hands on his hips, pulling and pushing him on and off my shaft. I increased my pace when I felt him begin to accept me more easily and his moaning and clearly become ones of pleasure. The combination of a tight hole and a minimally lubed foreskin meant that I would be bursting sooner than later, and I knew that I wanted to face him when it happened. I pulled out and told him to lie on his back. he still had his jeans on, so I pulled them off completely and threw them into the blackness of the van. I lifted his legs and rested them on my shoulders as I pushed into him once again. I knew I was close and I pounded him fiercely. I closed my eyes as that familiar feeling of euphoria overcame me, taking over and my entire, the blood rushing to the tips of my fingers and toes. I opened my eyes as a second wave pleasure coursed through me and there he was, lying in front of me. The dark haired boy with the blue eyes and pale skin and the full, red lips, just staring at me with a half smile, arms reaching out to touch my chest. I wanted so badly to call out to him, to say his name, but I pulled out and collapsed beside him instead, too drained to say anything. The boy put his head on my chest, and it was blonde hair again that tickled my chin.
"Did you come?" I asked.
"Yeah, while you were inside me," he replied, also out of breath.
James and I just lay there for a while in complete silence, coming down from the sexual high.
"Rhys will be looking for me," I said sitting up, reaching for my pants which were bunched up around my ankles. I pulled them up and re-buckled my belt. James found his t-shirt and slipped it back on. He really was quite skinny, though not in an emaciated way, but in a petite kind of way, which was endearing. He wiped the inside of his thigh and looked at me.
"Sorry," I said, knowing that it was my cum running out of his ass.
"It's fine," he said, smiling. He pulled on his underpants, jeans and sneakers and we left the van.
We went back into the club and I found Rhys still at the front of the crowd. He had gotten substantially drunk in my absence and his brother thought it would be a good time to get him home. That evening, as I lay on a blow up mattress next to Rhys's bed, I thought about the blonde haired boy I had just lost my virginity to. I thought about what I had just done and realised that it had been completely out of character. I thought about the way James made me feel: naughty, sexy, rebellious, and wanted. The image of the dark haired boy lying naked in front of me arose once again. But it wasn't him, it was James. It was James that took me inside him. It was James that was there, kissing me, touching my chest. Not the other beautiful boy; I didn't know where Adriel was.