Just You And Me

The water was cool and crisp as it glides over my skin; my arms splashing as I propel myself through the pool water. I bring my head to the surface and quickly breathe in before sending my head back underwater. The steady rhythm of my swimming soon results in me calming down after a long day at school. I reached the end of the pool and caught my breath. I've always enjoyed swimming; it's a release for me. The feeling of water against my skin gives me a feeling of tranquility, and zen. It's a peaceful place, one of only few in the world, besides being in the arms of someone you love. I've hardly ever felt that feeling of love. Only from my family. I don't feel welcome at school because of my sexuality, and I don't feel accepted by my swim teammates either. But, once I'm in the water, all of that hardship just floats away in the water. Oh, I almost forgot. My name's Alec Denton, and I've just turned 18. I quickly scan the pool once again before sending myself the other way, and saw a guy walk in from the mens locker room. I couldn't help but look at him. My eyes trace over him; from his thick, strong arms, down to his defined chest, to his slight outline of a six pack, and His tanned skin made him look amazing. His jet black hair gave him a "bad boy" look, and he pulled it off. He walked over to my side of the pool lane and knelt down next to me. I couldn't help but stare at his bright, shining green eyes. "hey, is it ok if I share the lane with you?" he said in a deep voice. All I could do was nod, he smiled and lowered himself in the cold pool next to me. "I'm Jamie. Jamie Townsend." he said extending his hand. I take his hand in mine, and answer with a strong grip, "Alec Denton."

I floated there awkwardly before he broke the silence. "so, are you a local?" he asked politely. "yeah, I've lived here ever since I was 2." I answered looking down to the other side of the pool. "cool, because I just moved here, and I kinda need someone to show me around town a little." he said with a bright smile on his face. I couldn't help but blush a little. "s-sure, I'll show you around." I said holding onto the railing. All of a sudden, I see another bright smile.

"Race you to the other side!" he yelled as he shot off the wall. He flew through the water like a fucking fish! I kicked myself off the wall as well and tried to catch up to him, but I couldn't. I swam as fast I could, flying through the waves faster than ever before, but it wasn't enough. He beat me. I held onto the rails as he flashes a big smile at me. He placed his arms on the handrails and leaned back to get more comfortable, and I couldn't help but look at him. "you find anything interesting, Alec?" he said cocking his head to the side a little. I caught my gaze and I shot my eyes up back towards his face. "n-no... I-I-I'm just... Spacing out..." I said blushing something awful. I hear him chuckle a little and he shoots back towards the other end of the pool. I flashed a smile, and swam close by. We soon climbed out, and watching the water trickle down his body made me stare again. "dude... Are you gay or something?!" he said sounding a little more agitated. "no... I-I...." I was stammering; this guy was amazing looking. Not that I wasn't or whatever. I get asked out a lot, but I don't feel any attraction to them. While Jamie looks more his age, and maybe a little older, I have more of the "quiet but really cute" look going on, and I'm pretty decent-looking too. I have short, jet black hair that makes me look 14, and big brown eyes. I stand at 5'8" tall, and around 145 Lbs. I have a pretty slim build, but still have a fair amount of muscle to me. I would say that I'm cute. Not drop dead sexy, but cute.

"sorry, Jamie. I-I have ADD, and sometimes I just... Drift off into space, and if you happen to be standing in front of me, it'll look like I'm staring at you, but I'm not." I explained as I watched his facial expressions closely. His face turned into a smile, "it's ok, Alec. No biggie." he said. Me having ADD wasn't bullshit, and I have it so bad, that if I lose focus for even a second, I'll totally drift away. Jamie and I walked back towards the locker room, and quickly got changed into our regular clothes. "where did you move from?" I asked as he slipped on a tight, black t-shirt that shows off his arm muscles. "I moved here from Winnipeg." he said briefly. 

Man, could he be any less vague...? 

"why did you move down here?" I asked as I put on a blue polo T-shirt from my bag. "uh... It's warmer down here." he chuckled a bit. I felt dumb for asking it all of a sudden, so I laughed a little too. "well, I gotta go. A certain someone is giving me a tour of downtown today." he said smiling brightly. "who?" I asked. "he chuckled a little louder this time. "you silly." he finished. Once again, I felt dumb. We walked out of the aquatics center, and down the sidewalk towards downtown. I couldn't help but steal a little glance once in a while, but then again, this boy is gorgeous! 

But, for me, it's not just the looks. From what I can tell with a hour of knowing him, he has a good heart, but my feelings have been wrong before. Especially with Jake. My senses beefed on that one; that was a fail of epic proportions. We continued down the sidewalk, and soon approached downtown. It's not a bustling city, but it certainly isn't a small country town either; about 143,000 people live here, and there is traffic pretty much every day. "so, why did you pick Compton? There's so much crime here." I said as I acknowledge the presence of 3 police cars racing down the street towards Torrington. "it was the only place I could find a cheap apartment." he said looking at the many buildings and street signs; trying to find the best way around town. 

In Compton, there are 3 main bridges that lead downtown that cross the Ellis river. The Tar Street Bridge, which is currently experiencing road work or something, the Garver Memorial Bridge, the longest, and oldest steel girder bridge in the state. The Garver Bridge sits 132' above the water, and is 1,532' long. The 3rd bridge is the route 97 bridge, which is a four lane highway bridge that turns into a tunnel that goes underneath the city. Compton is an industrial town, and always has freight trains leaving the factories every day, and my house sits only feet away from the freight depot. 

It also has a bus and light rail system that connects downtown to the upscale neighborhood Belvedere, my neighborhood, Vinewood, that sits beyond the Garver bridge, and where the factories are, Hepburn Heights to the north, Cardwell, on the other side of the highway,  and finally, Torrington. Torrington is notorious for Latin gang activity, and has the highest crime rate in Compton. The police are stretched thin; there are simply not enough officers to protect us from gang violence, drugs, murder, you name it. The only group that actually does a good job of keeping fights away from the people living there, is the Italian Mafia. The Mafia controls all of downtown, and the northern part of Vinewood, the Triads control Hepburn Heights, the various Latin gangs control Torrington, Cardwell and Belvedere are pretty much untouched, but a lot of the top people in the criminal underworld live in Belvedere.  

The two high schools are: Compton North High School, and Compton Central High School. The locals call the schools: CN, and CC. I go to CC, the "Bad" one. There are over 3,700 students in CC, and 2,540 students in CN. CN are primarily students that live in Belvedere, and Cardwell, while CC students are from the other neighborhoods, and there is constant violence in CC, so that's why it's best to keep your mouth shut, and just do your assignments. The rules in CC are just like the streets: never rat on your friends, and don't snitch on other people. There have been 3 stabbings last year at the CC, countless beatings of everyone from gays, to nerds, to the artsy people, because they did not follow those rules. Thankfully, I've never been beaten up, and I don't plan on being beaten up either. 

Anyways, we spent pretty much the whole day downtown. Visiting some of the local shops, grabbing lunch at Cluckin' Bell, and just talking. "hey, why don't I walk you home?" he asked. The thought of him seeing my house made me cringe, and I couldn't let him see the neighborhood I live in either. "no, that's ok. I-I'll be fine..." I stammered. "I insist." he said smiling. I rolled my eyes I defeat, and walked towards the streetcar station. We call the streetcars: "Trollies" in general, but when it's a specific branch of them, it's either the: A, B, C, D, or F. Each one originates in downtown, but each one goes to each neighborhood, The buses service the outer neighborhoods, like Brookdale, and Stampley, but you can get anywhere in the city of Compton by taking public transit. "so, which train do you take home?" Jamie asked. "I can take 2, but I usually take the B because it drops me off 25 feet away from my house." I answer as I wait for the trolley. I look at the top of the bright blue train and see that it's the D. The D goes to Hepburn Heights, but luckily, there's my train right behind it. I pay the $5, and take a seat near one of the windows. Jamie stood and held onto the railings. The trolley started to move, and it took a right at Scollay Circle, one of the main stops along the trolley routes. We pass the cars driving by as they honk and scream at the trolley for getting in their way. 

Like the trolley can switch lanes people... It's on tracks....

Jamie was looking around as mire people boarded the train at the Moore Street station, and the Fairview Creek station. We make our way through Mulholland Intersection, and over the Garver bridge. The trolley track is underneath the road bed, so I guess you could call it a double-decker bridge. I look foreword and see an A trolley head north towards Cardwell on the opposite track. After about 2 minutes, we cross into the industrial part of town, and my neighborhood, Vinewood. The train stops at my stop, Grove street. I tentatively get up, and de-board the trolley. I walk around the side, and pass in front of it towards my house. "you live here?" Jamie said when he saw my neighborhood. "m-my family doesn't have much money..." I said shyly. I walked down the graffiti-ridden street towards the only decent looking house on Grove Street: my house. I open the gate, and walk up to my porch. "by the way, I had a lot of fun today, Alec." Jamie said smiling as I turn to look at him. "m-me too.." I said as I blushed noticeably. He took out a piece of paper and handed it to me. "hit me cup sometime if you wanna hang out." he said as I took the piece of paper. I looked back at him, and he looks back at me. I freeze in time as his emerald eyes shine brightly in the evening light. He inches his face closer to mine, and lays nothing but s perfect kiss upon my lips. I suck in air through my nose as electricity flows through my body. He gripped my cheeks lightly as he pulls away slowly. I'm taken back by his perfect kiss, and my eyes remain open in shock. He smiles, and steps off my porch. He soon vanishes down the street. I open my security door, and walk into my house. I shut the door behind me, and lean against the door smiling and giggling.

-------------------

The next morning, I sat quietly listening to the radio on my iPhone as I waited for the B trolley to come to a stop as my school appears from behind the newspaper building. "the body of a woman was found earlier this morning around 2 AM near the Ellis river. The police have yet to comment on the matter, but sources tell WKKE that the body has been dead since early yesterday morning. More on this story as it develops..." it said as I turned off the radio. The trolley stopped about a quarter-mile from the school as myself and a few other students walked towards the menacing, sand colored building. I walked through the faded blue painted doors, and proceeded up the main staircase to my locker. Jackson usually makes his rounds of mental abuse right about now, so I gotta be quick; I don't wanna have to deal with him and his little friends' bullshit today. I opened my locker, shoved my books in it, took out what I needed, and shut the metallic green locker door with a thud. I make one quick glance, and I'm in the clear. I start to head downstairs to my first class when he pops out from around a corner. I groaned to myself, "not already..."

"hey look! Its Alice." he said with a cheeky grin. I Hung my head and looked at the floor as his friends looked on. "it's Alec..." I quietly and nervously said. Jackson is a big dude. He's easily 6' 3" and probably weighs around 220 Lbs. I couldn't help but feel intimidated. "Where's my lunch money, Faggot!" he said in a menacing tone. I don't have any today. I brought lunch because my mom can't afford it, but I couldn't tell him that! "I-I..." I stammer as I look up at him with pleading eyes. "give him his money, Alice!" Toby, Jackson's best friend yelled as he pushes me hard. I lose my balance and hit my head on the lockers. I go to reach for my head, but Jackson grabs the collar of my shirt, and lifts me up off the ground. He stares directly into my eyes, and snatches my backpack. His friends search through my bag, and find my lunch. They hand it to Jackson, and he looks at me with hate and anger. "this is mine now." he said pushing me further against the lockers. "f-f-fine... Take it...." I said with tears welling in my eyes. He gave me one final push and walked away with my lunch. I watch with tears streaming down my face as people were just watching me cry, and some just walked away. This always happens to me; I hate it! I pick up my stuff, and hug my knees just silently crying. All of a sudden, I hear footsteps running towards me, it's Jamie. "are you ok?" he asked worriedly. I dried up my tears and stood up. "y-yeah... I'm fine..." I said putting my backpack on my left shoulder. Jamie grabbed my arm. "are you sure?" he asked sincerely. "just... Leave me alone!" I shouted as I shook off his hand. I saw the hurt in his eyes as I walked away with tears in my eyes. 

Maybe I was a bit of a jerk to Jamie; all he wanted to do was help me, and I pushed it back into his face. I hate Jackson; he's such a dick! I've never done anything to him, so why does he like to make me upset and hurt me? How am I going to explain this to mom? I continued to walk slowly down the crammed hallway just thinking of what to do, and how to get them from bothering me. I could tell a teacher, but with 3,700 kids in one school, it's impossible to fix the situation. I should just accept the fact that I will be bullied for the rest of the year; All 178 days of it. I walked up to my first class, which is Chemistry, and sat where I normally sit: alone. As you probably have already guessed, I don't have many friends, and the ones I do have, are already in other classes. As the teacher, Mr. Higgins, walked in and took a seat in front of his desk. "good morning class." he began as I took out my notebook. "as you all know, there indeed was a body found in the woods last night. But I'm here to tell you that the police have a suspect in custody, so you can give your undivided attention to the syllabus that is on your desk outlining this semester..." he said as I look at the little piece of paper. As. Read over the syllabus, I notice someone sit next to me. I glance over and see Jamie. "hey." I said quietly. I felt a hand on my knee, and I start to blush. "hey...." he answered back. We both sat there awkwardly as Mr. Higgins continued his lecture. "you shouldn't let them do those things to you..." Jamie whispered as I looked at him without moving my head. "it's not like I do... It's just--"

"MR. DENTON!" Mr Higgins said loudly. "do you have something to share with the rest of the class?" he asked as everyone turned to look at me. I hung my head, "no sir...." I quietly said. Mr. Higgins knows about the people that bully me, and he tries his hardest to get a more severe punishment besides detention for bullies. "if you must, please finish your conversation outside my classroom." he said as he turned to face the chalkboard. I got up, so did Jamie, and I walked out of the classroom as Jamie shut the door. "look, I know we've just met, but I don't want to see you hurt, Alec. You're too caring and sweet to be bullied like that." Jamie said putting his hands on my waist on my lower back. I couldn't help it; I felt so safe in his arms, so I muzzled my head in his chest, and he held me tighter. "please... Don't let go..." I cried a little as tears started to dampen his t-shirt. I've never felt this way about anyone so soon. Maybe I'm falling for him already, but what worries me, is I know nothing about him, and I already trust him with my life. "d-do you think we could... go out..." I asked shyly. He smiled a warm smile. "there's nothing I'd like more than to go out with such a sweet boy like you." he said hugging me tighter. 

I want to stay like this forever...

 

Josh Volland

[email protected]

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