"So...are you excited for tonight?" asked Tyler over the phone.
"Yes I am," I gushed into the receiver.
It was a Friday afternoon, I had just come back from a contemporary dance tutorial and it was Valentine's Day. I was sitting in the lounge with my legs dangling over the couch's arm rest when Tyler phoned. I picked up the wireless phone in the kitchen and hurried up to my room and closed the door behind me.
Ever since Tyler had kissed me near the end of last year, I couldn't stop thinking about him. We had contacted each other over the phone numerous times during the holidays and I was beginning realise that my initial perceptions about had been completely wrong. He was kind, sweet, funny, definitely a jock from the way he spoke and carried himself and incredibly honest and easy to talk to. I even felt unworthy sometimes, as he'd often talk openly and endlessly about his friends and family while I kept my cards close to my chest. Trust had always been something I struggled to achieve with others, but I guess I was more open to it now than I had ever been. I have realised that the subject of my mother had always been a point of discussion with many people and I was glad that Tyler wasn't pushing me to talk about it.
I had been nervous on the first day of school since it would be the first time that I would lay eyes on Tyler's admittedly boyishly handsome face since our lips had touched. I remember seeing him in the auditorium during the first assembly of the year. We were sitting on opposite sides of the same row, but since the seats wrapped themselves around the stage in a semicircular fashion, we were in fact facing each other. For most of the assembly I stared at him and he stared back. He would smile and it would send a shiver up my spine and the muscles in my midriff tense. When Tyler looked at me I felt naked, exposed and I knew the more intense of my feelings for him were beginning to bloom inside me.
"And you you'll be able to meet me at the pond at 21:00?" he asked concerned.
"Don't worry I'll be there," I reassured him.
Over the past few weeks before Valentine's Day we had crept away from vigilant eyes and shared our private moments in shadowed corners of the auditorium, boys' bathrooms and the pool shed. But the intimacy was nothing more than the savouring of each others tongues and the taste of each other's necks. It never got any further than that, and I think we were both pleased that it didn't. Despite the fact that I had let Marcus give me a hand job and I had similarly stuck my hand down his pants, it was different now. I wanted to wait. I didn't want to get hurt all over again and give up something prematurely knowing that I could never get it back. In my experience, sex had always made things more complicated and unpredictable, it could even give someone leverage in a relationship the way it did Marcus. I was still recovering from letting myself be so lost in his favour all of last year, willing myself to do everything he told me to do. I wasn't ready to have sex yet, and hopefully Tyler would be fine with it.
"Okay I'll see you then beautiful," he said finally, making me blush.
"Okay, handsome. Bye," I said before ending the call.
"Who's handome?" asked a deep, stern voice from behind me.
I quickly turned around and hid the phone behind my back.
"No one," I said softly.
"Where are you going tonight?" asked my father, stepping into the room.
"Nowhere," I lied again.
"I wasn't born yesterday Adriel. I want the truth now, or you're not leaving this room."
I considered making up another lie, but my dad was smart and I could tell that my previous responses together with the way I had said them meant that he wouldn't believe anything that came out of my mouth unless it was the truth. My heart began to race and sweat began to sprout from my forehead. I was standing near the window and I began pacing my room furiously. I had no way out of this. Telling my dad the truth meant me telling him I was gay and I didn't know if I was ready to do it. I always imagined it would be easy coming out to him but standing here facing him dead on the way I was, the way he was demanding scared me and I was beginning to fall apart.
"Adriel," my father said, his voice growing louder.
I couldn't tell him. He would hate me. I was his only son, what if I had been wrong? What if it wasn't okay for him to have a gay son? What if he didn't want me to be gay? He stepped closer to me and I back away.
I looked around for an exit point. The window was impossible as it was a clean two floor drop to the ground and I wasn't keen and breaking any part of my body, especially my legs. Suddenly I saw the opening. I dashed around my bed, jumped onto it and leaped for the door to the passage. But I had forgotten that my dad was once a great athlete, and as soon as I had my head through the door I felt a strong pull around my waist and my back collided with his huge frame. I tried to fight him but he crossed my arms across my chest and his legs barricaded mine. I was crying now.
"What's going on Adriel?" he pleaded for me to tell him.
I was still trying to push him off with my shoulder but nothing budged.
"Adriel, please baby, tell me what's wrong," he asked with his head pressed against mine.
After growing tired of fighting I relinquished all of my power to him and we sank to the floor.
"You'll hate me," I said finally.
"I can never hate you Adriel, you're my son, my child. Just tell me,"
"You can. Tell me," he whispered.
I closed my eyes and all I concentrated on what I could feel around me. My back was pressed against my father's chest and his chin was resting against my temple. His arms were wrapped tightly around me and the rise and fall of his body comforted me slightly. I tried to speak but my throat was heavy, laden with the dregs of my emotional outburst. I willed myself to speak, and together with my father's arms encasing me even tighter, the words spilt from my lips.
"I'm gay," I said.
I expected for the hold I was in to slacken but it didn't.
"Okay," said my dad, kissing the top of my head, "I love you son."
"You don't hate me?" I said, tears pouring from my eyes once again.
"Of course not, you are my baby. You are part of me. Hating you would make me hate myself. We all are the way we are because of the way we grew up. That's what I believe. And when I looked at you Adriel, I don't regret one decision I made that concerned you, not one. And that is the truth. Okay?"
"Yeah, okay. I love you dad," I said turning around and wrapping my arms around his neck and placing my head on his shoulder.
"I'm going down to the kitchen and you get cleaned up okay. If I'm not mistaken, you have a date tonight?" he half asked. I nodded.
He turned to leave but stopped midway through the door.
"Who is the boy?" he asked, the sternness returning to his demeanour.
"Tyler, Tyler Sutherland," I said quietly.
My dad stared at me and I could see he was conflicted. It wasn't the gay thing that was the issue now; it was his parental instinct to protect me from everything and everyone that was kicking in. I was surprised when he smiled and said,
Since it was a February evening in Cape Town it sometimes took a while for the earth to cool off in the evenings. This meant that the scorching atmosphere that persisted throughout the day relentlessly persisted into the evening. In light of this I decided to throw on a pair of khaki shorts, a light blue shirt with sleeves that rolled up to the elbows and my trusty black plimsolls.
By 20:45 I decided it was time to leave so I said goodbye to my dad who made an awkward comment about safe sex and that if I wanted I didn't have to have sex until I was ready to settle down with someone. I smiled to myself about it on my way out of the house. It was sweet albeit unrealistic. I had told him not to worry too much about it and that I would tell him if I ever did feel ready to finally go all the way.
I skipped down our garden path, through the gate in the hedge and walked across the grounds, beyond the hostels to the little ravine that formed the posterior boundary of the school grounds. It was a magical little place with majestic willows overhanging the meandering stream that gave off little tributaries that culminated in little ponds along its length. Under normal circumstances the place would be buzzing with students, usually the senior ones and especially couples, as the many trees provided a perfect seclusion for quick make-out sessions. Luckily the Valentine's Ball was also taking place this evening and as almost all of the students attended that, Tyler and I were free to enjoy the privacy of the ravine in just that: private.
As I neared the ravine I kept my eyes peeled for any sign of life. There were a few ponds in the area and Tyler hadn't been specific about which one. I passed under one of the willows when something caught my eye. It was a flicker of light and when I moved closer the one flicker became many. The lights became brighter and I saw a figure in the distance. I was walking parallel to the stream now and the only thing obscuring my view was the dense branches of the trees that hung so low it swept the ground. I moved through the final barricade of branches and was met by one of the most breathtaking visions I had ever seen.
There was Tyler kneeling by the pond, with his back towards me, pushing out a lit candle onto the surface of pond. The candle drifted out and joined the fifty other candles illuminated and reflected off the smooth surface. Two swans, who were residents of the ravine careened between the candles, entranced by its beauty. I walked towards Tyler, who turned around in response to my footsteps in the grass. He was barefoot and wearing a pair of navy shorts and a white shirt that was tucked into them and rolled midway up his forearms. The top four buttons on his shirt were undone and I could see the smooth, tanned skin through the gap.
I stood in front of him, put my hand behind his head and pulled his face towards mine. My lips met his and the greeted in the most intimate of ways. After a minute he broke the kiss and we both stood there holding each other' hands, just catching out breathes.
"Hello," he said smiling.
"Hi," I said back. We both started laughing and he pulled me into an embrace. He wasn't much taller than me and rested my head on his shoulder and the final dregs of laughter escaped through my mouth.
I could feel his chest rising and falling unevenly as the laughter subsided in him too. He pulled away and led me to a blanket that was laid on the grass on the bank of the pond from which we had a clear view of the candles and swans.
"This is beautiful," I said looking out over the water. I turned to face him and he was smiling at me in the dim light of a few candles that were placed around the blanket.
"I'm glad you like it," he said and pecked the side of my head.
"How long did all of this take you? And where did you get all this from," I asked, as the guy next to me became more and more impressive everyday.
"I must admit, I had a little help from my sister. And Rhys helped me carry everything before he went to the dance. Would you like some ice tea?"
"I would like some very much, thank you," I said as he poured and handed me a glass of ice cold lemon ice tea.
We rested on pillows and drank our ice tea, ate from a platter of delicious cheeses and fresh fruits and talked about nearly everything. It wasn't just light banter either. Tyler asked me about my mother and I told him everything there was to know: that she and my dad had me when she was just 19 years old, that she danced with the Cape Town Ballet Company even though she had danced overseas before she had become pregnant, that she was diagnosed with leukaemia and suffered through it for a year and half before succumbing to it two years ago. He held me close to him when I told him this and I felt safe for the first time with someone other than my father. I also mentioned that my dad knew that I was gay and that I was seeing him tonight. This troubled him at first I and only realised then that I had accidentally outed him to my father. I apologised and he pulled me into a rough embrace and we tumbled around on the blanket as I tried to overpower him. It wasn't an easy feat but I managed to get on top of him and he relaxed beneath me.
"I'm really sorry, but you don't have to worry, my dad's really cool. He won't tell anyone. I'll even remind him not to," I apologised again.
Tyler put his hands around my waist and squeezed affectionately.
"It's okay Adriel, really. I'm actually glad you told him. That I way you've saved me the stress of having to tell him myself."
He placed his hands on the sides of my head and pulled me down for a kiss. I sat back up and upon leaning back against his thighs I felt something long and hard underneath me. Tyler realised what had happened and was about to say something before I silenced him with another kiss. As I drew out the kiss I felt his penis against my perineum and I rolled my hips over him. Tyler moaned into my mouth. Suddenly the kiss broke and Tyler turned me over onto my back. He had clearly been suppressing some of his strength during out little wrestling match.
Tyler was now between my legs and grinding his crotch into mine. I was as hard as he was and the feeling of him moving on top of me made the encounter so much more erotic. Tyler leaned over me and I kissed the exposed part of his chest and neck. This seemed to turn him on even more and he rubbed himself against me with greater ferocity. I moaned loudly as the friction of material against my cock pushed me closer and closer to the edge. Tyler was moaning loudly too, his hot breath burning my neck. The bumping and grinding didn't last for long as we both came, almost simultaneously, into our underwear. I watched as Tyler closed his eyes tightly and bit his bottom lip and as he reached climax. I felt even closer to him, never having seen him so vulnerable and human. He collapsed on top of me and after a few minutes, once he had caught his breath, rolled over onto his back beside me. Our hands met between our bodies and we just lay, enjoying the sound of each other's breathing and the stars in the sky and the stillness of the night.