Slow Burn

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The burn was a slow one, but the heat of it was as strong as any flame. It took me by surprise, igniting in my stomach and then making its way through my blood stream like some sort of alien parasite bent on sucking me dry. I could not speak, I could not move; all I could do was stare at the person making me feel this way, torturing me.
He had short fingers. They reminded me of Vienna sausages that had been left out in the open air for too long; shriveled little things that had an odd orange coloring to them. I remember thinking how strange it was that his fingers would stand out above all of his other unattractive features, but then again it’s usually the insignificant things that you remember about people.
His voice sounded like what I imagine a chimney’s would if it could speak; deep and scratchy from smoking too much.
“That kid you’re sitting next to is such a faggot.” These were the first words I had ever heard him speak, and already I knew they had been directed at me. He said them just loud enough for me to hear them, but he was not close enough to me for it to actually be considered a threat yet. It was a tactic that some teenage bullies used to get a rise out of their victim before they actually said anything to them.
Two pinpricks of heat rushed to my face and my eyes shuddered in their sockets. Why was this happening again? Was I wearing a sign around my neck that said “Please Humiliate Me”? The possibility was beginning to look more and more likely since this had been happening to me since elementary school.
“Have you heard the way he talks?” my personal nightmare asked his friend “he is such a queer.”
Not for the first time my fist clenched around my pencil. Since when did the way someone speaks indicate their sexuality? When exactly did ‘gaydar’ become a standard installment in human senses? That would be a laugh in science text books! I can see it now ‘The human body is capable of six major senses. They are: Sight, Smell, Touch, Taste, Hearing, and the ability to predict other people’s sexual orientation without even speaking to them.’
What made me the most upset though is that I actually considered his question. Did I talk like a ‘queer’? What was I doing wrong? I could hide it from my parents’ just fine, but when it came to kids my own age it was like I was an open book.
The fact that I am gay; and proud, makes the situation all the more confusing; at least to me. I was sitting there feeling….ashamed, but of what?! The fact that I was attracted to men; what’s so bad about that? Why should I have to keep that a secret? Men and woman have been publicly showing their affection for each other ever since I can remember. Kissing in the streets, holding hands in the grocery store, getting married. And here I am; a sixteen year old boy, physically craving a glimpse of homosexual love out in the open. No, that’s not it either. I want to see it…and not care! I want to be able to say ‘Oh, nothing strange to see there.’ I don’t want to feel as if the floor is falling out from under my feet all because of two human beings loving one another. Why should anyone have to crave acceptance? It’s not fair. But then again, there is that old saying. Who said life was fair?
The clock on the wall ticked by at an agonizingly slow pace; each twitch of the seconds hand another instant closer to my freedom, to safety…to friends. It was pinned to the wall right in front of me; mocking me.
It was times like these that I wanted to scream, to grab these random attackers around their throats and choke the ignorance out of them. I wanted to shake them and ask ‘Why are torturing me? Why are you like this? WHY DO YOU HATE ME?’





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