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A Love Story

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I've always been the macho man. The fighter. The think-skulled thug who neither has nor needs emotions, and cannot be bothered to try to understand them in others. I was the kind of guy who ate raw eggs and nails for breakfast and started off the morning by doing a hundred sit-ups. I could not tolerate pansies; children and puppies sickened me; I had dreams of being a linebacker or a pro wrestler.

That was the kind of reputation I had at sixteen.

So it was a complete surprise to most people when I started going out with Taylor. If he'll go out with anybody, the people would say (and what a riot it would be if he did!), it'll be a female bodybuilder or a softball player or one of those goth girls who doesn't take s*** even from the six-ten monster like him. And to tell you the truth, I sort of thought the same thing.

Well, Taylor was the exact opposite of what both they and I expected. The complete opposite. Taylor was short and moved like the branches of a willow tree, fluid and beautiful and breakable. This kid - for Taylor was a kid, as were all of us then - liked to watch Hallmark and Lifetime. Taylor was on the cheerleading team, for goodness sakes. Nobody could do a double back flip like Taylor - in fact, nobody, on the team or otherwise, could do a double back flip at all.

When we started going out, people said it was the double back flip that caught my attention. That I was so impressed by it, the sheer physical feat of it (people seemed to be under the impression that if it didn't have to do with something I could do with my body, I didn't think of it) that I became interested. But that, of course, wasn't true. I couldn't care less about a double back flip; in fact, I couldn't care less about physical feats unless they were my own. All I saw were the cheerleaders plus Taylor, doing the flips during the pep rallies, and I was bored.

It may sound incredible, unbelievable, but it was actually Taylor who approached me. I was walking in the hallway between classes one day, my head down, my hulking shoulders hunched, staring at people's feet. I recognized people my their feet. As I glanced up to nod curtly to someone I knew, I heard a voice: "Hey, Alexander."

It was, as you know, Taylor. Walking with me. Nobody had ever walked with me before. "How ya doing?" Taylor asked, as if we had talked before, as if we were best friends, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to ask how I was doing.

Hallmark and Lifetime, I thought. Two very well-known facts. "All right," I mumbled.

Taylor frowned. "You know, I think I'll just get right down to it. I think you're not very in touch with your emotional side at all."

My head snapped up. Emotional side? Emotions? What was this? Who said those kinds of things? "S-so?" I sputtered, praying I would reach my class soon, despite the heavy traffic.

"I can help you get in touch with your emotional side," Taylor told me, rubbing up against me. It was the first time I had experienced flirtation.

Well, I thought as I looked at this person who was paying me attention. I was not so thick-skulled that I didn't know interest in me when it was staring at me in the nose. Besdies, Taylor was kind of nice looking. Little body, slender, well-kept. However a socially-inept macho monster I was, you can't say I was not shallow.

"Um . . ." I said, "Okay." And so we made a movie date (me! a movie!) and that was how it started.

But as it (the going-out) continued, I began to notice things about Taylor that made me truly fall in love. The smile with the dimple. The gentle curve. The way we both wanted to be relatively chaste, and that we both respected each other's boundaries. Taylor became not only my significant other (imagine - me, at sixteen, a significant other - but it was true), but my best friend, my rock. Even my parents enjoyed Taylor's company, even if they didn't exactly improve of our relationship. (I never quite understood why).

But before you get any fully-formed ideas, it ended. All things have to end. Taylor and I broke up after our senior year. It was amicable but sad, but it had to be done. We were going away to different colleges, and neither of us thought we could handle a long-distance relationship. Besides, we had fallen out of that compatibility we had found when we were sixteen, when I was a mumbling bodybuilder and Taylor was a double-back-flipping cheerleader.

But before all that - when Taylor was my heart and soul and I was the same to Taylor - we lay in the dewy grass early one morning, watching the sun rise. As the first rays peeked above the horizon, we kissed. It was a beautiful kiss. All our kisses were like that. But this one was special; this one had taken place in the intentional sight of the rising sun. Though I didn't have much grasp for abstract things, I thought it was fitting, though I didn't really understand why.

After a moment of silence punctuated only by the noises of nature and by our own breathing, Taylor rolled over, put his arms around me, and whispered, "I've never known a boy like you, Alexander. Please don't ever change."



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