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Author's note: The book "Giovanni's room" By James Baldwin. I hope to get some readers to appreciate my work.
I have been in love with him ever since I could remember. Ever since I turned fourteen. Something in me sparked… something, which found him attractive, handsome. Mine. I wanted him… I knew it was wrong to want another male, such as myself. I knew it was! I was confused. I was a teenager. I was reassuring myself, over and over, over and over. I knew I had to like girls. I just had to, but it was as if I was never interested in them.
At school I would steal glances at him, just a girl in who has a desperate crush would. I didn’t talk to him, or to any of my friends. They would laugh at me. They would murder me with their laughter. I knew that a boy wouldn’t understand. I came to respect females, very, very much. I started hanging out with Monique. She was a new student in our school, and very beautiful for that matter, too bad I had zero interest.
Monique had big blue eyes and long auburn hair that reached to her waist. She wore it in a curled up ponytail. Her lips were pouty, and she would always look down, making her look depressed… or in hiding. She was like a wilted flower, with a splash of beauty in it, which made her quite a melancholy sight. I said hello to her, and stood next to her, leaning against the fence. She would look at me awkwardly, but in a few days came to like me, and we started talking.
The day came where we started talking about romance. She felt that it was awkward, talking to a boy about such things. I thought it was awkward too, but I knew that I was not like all the other boys. She seemed to know that, but she did not want to know that. I felt that she liked me a little more than a friend. She would glance at me when we were silent and smile at me when we were talking.
“So… Richard… do YOU like anyone?” The question stung like a bee. It plunged through me, plaguing me with its poison. I blushed and forced a smile.
“To tell you the truth…” I felt my heart racing. What do I tell her? I could see her smiling, also blushing, from the corner of my eye. I knew she was hoping that I would take her hand and say, “You.” And then passionately kiss her… but I knew that would not happen. I knew that she would leave from this school today, with her heart racing and pounding in pain. “To tell you the truth… I like… Jared.”
Monique stared down, her face turning from bright red, to pale. She fluttered her eyelashes and looked up into my eyes, forcing a smile. “Oh…” she said, in a quiet like the spring breeze voice. That voice shook with disappointment and sadness. It shook like an autumn leaf. “To tell you the truth…” she said, licking her lips, “I don’t like anyone!” She started laughing, a fake laugh, and wanted me to believe it. I pretended that I did. Both of us knew that she was lying, but none of us said anything. She knew that I knew about her lies, and she blushed when I started to talk.
“You do not think it is weird for me to like Jared?” I asked, a faint smile on my face. She shook her head. “I don’t know about YOU, but in sex ed we learned that teens usually experiment with homosexuality… so I don’t think it’s weird. I just ho-…I mean THINK that you will get over it.” She turned away, staring at some kids rushing by. “Oh! How could’ve I never thought of that?” I said, with hope and thought in my voice. Maybe this is just experimenting? How can I not know it? Will I really get over it? How am I supposed to know? Why at fourteen? Was I always like this? Did I not ever notice this? Questions pushed and pulled my head apart, trying to get first in line to be answered. Either way I would have to answer them all.
At the end of the school day, I rushed through the crowd of kids trying to get outside of the school. I walked quickly, my backpack hitting my back with each step, digging the books into my side. I wanted to get home, to my room, to my forgotten memories.
At home I looked at the posters on my wall. None of them were Victoria’s secret models, as I have seen in another boy’s room. None of them were of any women at all. There was the poster I got two years ago. It was of Russell Crowe, standing in the buff, looking as if he would pin me against the wall at any time. There was a terminator poster; Arnold standing grandly, the type of guy girls would faint over. I found a magazine with Brad Pitt on the cover, and I remember looking at him, wishing, wishing to meet him. I idolized him. Always. I still did now. I envied his body. I wanted it. He was just so beautiful, so seductive.
The truth hurt me. Truth always hurts. I knew it. I always liked boys. Always. I never had a girlfriend, for which my guy friends would tease me. I always thought that I never have found the perfect girl to love yet, but today… today the truth reared its ugly head. The truth is hideous on the outside, yet beautiful on the inside… but lies… lies are always beautiful, dangerously beautiful. Lies are like a vain, shallow girl… or boy, so beautiful that the world revolves around them like the moon around the earth.
I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly I didn’t want to hear or see. I wanted to be Helen Keller. I wanted for the world to leave me alone. I sat on my bed, staring at the blank, white part of the wall. I was shaking. My life as Richard was officially over. I knew it. I was going to be murdered from the inside out. Pointing fingers, wagging tongues, “Look, him, Richard. Over there! Haha! He’s gay! He really is! He likes Jared. Wooot!” I saw it, clearly, people surrounding me with their voices… Jared not wanting to see me, avoiding me.
The next few days went by like torture. Monique would always try to comfort me, hugging me as a girl would hug a “girlfriend.” I was treated like one, too. Monique and I would walk around the city, and into the mall, getting looks from people, mushy looks, and what-a-cute-couple looks. I looked at Monique like a friend, a rival friend… a typical girlfriend. To me, females now were rivals, respected rivals, rivals who are better at boys than me.
Monique would blush and beam at me whenever I told her that her outfit was cute. I tried to sound as friendly as possible, but she seemed to live in a fairytale. A fairytale, where I, was buying her things and calling her gorgeous as I leaned over to clasp a diamond necklace around her neck. She was living in a world, where, I was straight. Where I was not a “girlfriend” but a boy, a regular, boy.
I was anything but a regular boy. I had big brown eyes, which Monique would describe as chocolate. She said that the cute thing about my eyes was, that sometimes, you couldn’t tell the pupil from the iris. Her words made me smile. I had dimples, which Monique would also describe as “cute.” I had dirty blonde hair, with side bangs, almost covering my whole, left eye, and I barely had any muscles, which made me look kind of feminine. A dream pretty boy, as Monique once put it.
I knew what Monique wanted. She pretended she didn’t and I pretended I didn’t know. We both were drowning in each other’s lies, which made my friendship with her very strong. I tried to treat her like a family member, and she tried to treat me like a boyfriend. She would kiss me on the cheek when she saw me and give me a hug. I would hug her back, blushing. Everyone in the school thought we were going out, and she was reluctant to deny it, and I was too shy to.
My guy friends, whom I haven’t talked to in a while, would tell me what a great job it is that I “scored.” I tried not to look like I was in pain as I smiled up at them, blushing and then walking away. Jared wouldn’t look at me, and I knew that if I really wanted him, I would have to form a friendship with him, too.
In geometry class, Jared got moved next to me. My heart pounded as he took his seat, glancing at me from the corner of his eye. I was red…as if I was on the beach and have forgotten my sunscreen. I was red like a rose bud about to burst open. I needed more air and I took deep breaths as I thought about Jared’s ripped body, his square jaw and messy, brown hair. I thought about his beautiful green eyes, which he would wink at girls with, and the eyes that were ignoring me now.
I couldn’t hear anything the teacher was saying. To me, he was babbling on and on about things too boring for me to bear. My brain decided to focus more on sight, because I sure have a handsome scene to look at: Jared, his eyes, squinting up at the board, as his manly hands wrote down formulas and drew shapes. I stared at him before writing down the random things I was seeing. Functions. Plus. One. Zero. Pi. A rectangle. A Square. All this was going on one page in the notebook.
I felt someone staring at me, and I turned my head franticly, in search for Jared’s staring, green eyes, but instead I got glasses, the teacher’s reflecting glasses. I could see my disappointed expression in them and I could feel my teacher’s eyes burning me away in a miserable little pile of ash.
“So, Mr. Richard…” I felt the stares of everyone… including Jared. That sort of made me happy. After a while I heard a snicker coming from the room, before everyone started to laugh. “So Mr. Richard, when you get out of fairy land, do you want to solve this for us?” I shook my head desperately. Fairy land, huh? So I was a fairy… yes I was a fairy. It was an appropriate description for a gay boy, such as me.
The class continued and the bell soon rang. Jared packed up his stuff without glancing at me, and rushed out the door. I tried to rush out, just to get a glimpse of him, but I got none.
It was not as hard as I used to think to become Jared’s friend. I waved hi to him in class and we started talking later on. He talked about girls, and I tried to talk about girls too. He said he noticed how I was going out with Monique. I just smiled at him like a fool when he said that. He said he likes my taste, and trying to make a joke, asked if he could borrow her when I’m done. Sighing, I explained how we were not going out, and how we were friends, which made him happy. Happier than I would’ve liked him to be…
Jared started hanging out with us, flirting with Monique, and Monique, playing hard to get. This continued throughout high school, and Jared finally asked Monique out in eleventh grade. When Monique told him, yes, it broke my heart in two, but I tried to pretend to be happy. I smiled at them with my lips, but my eyes made my pain look obvious. I could also see the guilt in Monique’s eyes, as she stood next to Jared, him, hugging her at the waist. There wasn’t much I could do… they were going out. He loved her. For me, it seemed like the world was over…
Luckily, God decided not to leave me in a miserable corner in the world. Though Monique and Jared seemed like a happy, beautiful couple, Monique just didn’t love Jared… she was in love with me. When Jared realizes that, they will break up, and I wished for it secretly. Monique knew I wished for it, but Jared was blinded by love. Monique and I would always talk and she would always apologize, and I would always say that it was, “okay.” It was anything BUT okay and she knew it. She knew it and that is why she apologized until she was blue in the face. Our friendship was strong, but my love for Jared…perhaps stronger, but more temporary.
My painful past in high school was over. Jared and I were in love, living together in a small apartment. I was twenty-five, and Jared just turned twenty-six. We were together for five years now, celebrating our anniversary. Monique and I were still friends, catching up on gossip. She was living with her boyfriend, a man whom I dislike very much, for he always thought that I was pretending to be gay just so that I could seduce Monique later on. Then again, I don’t really blame him for hating me. Monique would always look at me with eyes that were burning with love. I felt guilty for leaving her with that pain. I felt guilty for not giving girls a chance, but I didn’t want to go through pain. I was a coward.
For our fifth anniversary, Jared wanted to get married. Since we live in Connecticut, we had the right to. It took us weeks to get our marriage license and after a month, we had our wedding. My family refused to come, for they saw this as dirty and filthy. This broke my heart, of course, but I tried to be happy nonetheless. Jared’s sister and cousin came, teasing him and telling him what a ladies’ man he was, but they still congratulated him and gave us both hugs and pecks on the cheeks. Monique, of course, came, hand in hand with her boyfriend, smiling excitedly, her eyes searching the building we rented.
“My, my, Richard! Your teenage dream sure came true.” She tried to sound cheerful, but I could remember how her voice sounded when she was trying to hide sadness, shaky and loud… forcefully loud. Jared stared at one of his female friends, whom he met in college, Megan. Megan had a curvy, hourglass figure and blonde hair, which reached, up to her high back. Men loved her for her body and playing a hard to get girl, she would strut past them, her ass moving in circular motion. She was obviously very conceited and she dare not hide it.
“Ah, Ricky and Jared. Lovely couple!” She purred, stroking Jared’s chin with her long nails. She turned to me, puckering her dark red lips and stroking my hair. “Never thought you boys would end up like this.” Jared grinned.
“I never thought I would end up like this either, but I love Richard.”
“Love was never a reason to marry.” She replied in a dangerously soft tone. “It’s all about looks and money, and Richard is a very beautiful boy.” I despised her for calling me a boy, as if I was playing pretend wedding in kindergarten. I hated her for thinking that our love was a shallow puddle about to dry out. I hated her… I despised her with all my heart and she knew it. It was obvious, how I would tense up when she touched me and how tense my smile was when she walked over.
Megan knew that I hated her and of course, for that reason, chose to strut around me all the time, talking endlessly of how ridiculous my marriage was. Jared would smile at her, and say, “We are married because we love each other. Also, since I pay the bills, the apartment is registered under my name. If I die, the apartment will become his… if we were not married, poor Richard would be thrown to the streets!”
Megan would laugh and stroke his face, saying, “Oh, boohoo…” She thought that just because she was Jared’s ex girlfriend from the beginning of college then she could just flirt with him like that! Megan was a definite rival.
Our wedding lasted for the whole day and throughout the night. Monique pulled me up to the dance floor and seductively danced to the Britney Spears song that was playing. I just tried to keep the beat, smiling at her tired face, which was shining in the lights from sweat. “So… things have changed, huh?” She said, smiling. I knew that she knew I was gay from the moment I met her, but she was still playing the game of pretend, and I played along. “Yeah… it’s cool how Jared came out of the closet…” I said, my voice rising above the music.
“Are you guys planning to have kids?” She asked as she turned around to the beat.
“Um… well we are thinking about a surrogate mother…” I chewed on my lip nervously. Does Monique want to be the surrogate mother? I was hoping to get a woman we don’t know… because then it would be a new friend… I don’t know what I was thinking.
“Ah… well did you think about who it might be?” Monique stopped dancing and gave me a hug. “You know it would be lovely for you and Jared to have a happy family.” I sighed, glad that she didn’t compare us to heterosexual families. “Yes, Monique,” I murmured, hugging her back. “It would.”
Questions were buzzing in my head like bees, searching for flowers and finding none. The flowers were all the answers to my questions. Questions like: Does Jared really love me? Who will be the surrogate mother? Was this wedding a mistake? Why do I love Jared? The bees desperately searched for their flowers, which were not that far away. Jared, dancing with Megan, Megan shaking her ass to the beat, Monique still in my arms, the Deejay shaking his head at me, and Jared’s body answered al of those questions but the bees refused to take that nectar.
Months passed and we seemed to be living happily. Jared was looking through the Internet for a surrogate mother. At least that is what he looked like he was doing. He would say he found a woman, but she would have some diseases I did not want our baby to have. Every once in a while I would ask him, “Jared, did you find a surrogate?” Every time he would point to a woman who wasn’t at all pretty, cute, or even lovely in any way. Every time he would suggest Megan. I admit, Megan is beautiful, and I wanted a beautiful child, so it took me a lot of strength to refuse and keep searching.
Jared was always tired of searching for a surrogate, so he finally convinced me to use Megan. Megan laughed at the offer, but said yes. We spent the next few weeks researching her family history. She had no diseases, her great grandmother died of breast cancer and her grandfather had type 2 diabetes. Jared seemed to ignore all of that and would keep on insisting. I finally gave in. “So who’s child is she going to have? Yours or mine?” Jared smiled, a twinkle in his eye. “Mine…” I pouted, “Why yours Jared?” He took me in his arms, “Because if I have my child first, you can have yours second and they my child will protect yours.”
I considered this, of course… but I knew that I would not want MEGAN as a surrogate. “Fine, but my child will definitely not be from Megan.” I said, sighing. I felt like a woman… a submissive woman… no… I felt like a housewife stereotype weaker by a thousand. Yes… I felt weaker than a stereotypical woman. I felt ashamed that I let Jared make such big decisions for me. I felt more of a coward than I really am! Sighing I flopped on the couch like a piece of paper trying to stand upright. I hugged the pillow to my chest.
Jared always reassured me of how genius of an idea it was to have Megan’s child. Really I just hoped that after birth, Megan would leave us alone. I was starting to have faint feelings of regret. This is really what I wanted when I was a teenager… this is what I wanted… I cannot regret it now. I did not want to break my past’s heart. I did not want to disappoint myself. If only the day I came out of the closet I did not choose to love Jared! If only that would’ve happened, I wouldn’t be feeling like this right now.
Megan and Jared made an arrangement to get her pregnant. I was hoping that he wouldn’t do something stupid, so I came with him. She seemed kind of disappointed, and she scowled at me, letting me fall into the pit of her hatred. Jared stood there awkwardly and walked into the nurse’s office with Megan. I stood outside, waiting a few long minutes. Megan walked out, seeming light headed, and I had enough heart to ask her if she was okay. “Yes… yes I am, Ricky. I am totally okay. Now we just need to get my pregnancy test…”
Jared smiled. “See, Richard, if we would’ve picked another woman, she of course, would’ve made us pay. Now, Megan is willing to give up the child for free and both of us are happy.” I forced a smile and kissed Jared. “Yes… both of us are happy.”
Megan was pregnant, and it started to show in 7 months, as the bump on her belly grew and grew. Megan and I became friendlier with each other, and she came to visit once a week to let Jared and I look at the progress of the baby. I knew that it was going to be a big baby, because the bump stuck out as if she had a small beach ball under her shirt. The beach ball gradually inflated and we were told that our baby was going to be a girl.
Whenever I thought about our baby I would always wipe tears away from my eyes. A child. We are going to be a real family! The buzzing bees in my head were happily collecting the nectar of happiness, which was collecting in my head like first snowfall in the streets. Two more months… and it is November. Our baby will be born in the winter… and the winter is just a corner away.
As the winter neared, Jared has been disappointing me. He was choosing to visit the baby at Megan’s house. I knew that she perhaps has seduced him, probably using the baby as an excuse. Probably. Jared has been coming home late, and tired. He wouldn’t kiss or hug me. He would look at me with tired eyes, smiling faintly.
One day I asked him what kept him away so long. “Oh… well the taxi was driving slow and there was traffic… and stuff…” He would say, slowly. Obviously he was drunk. I would help him to bed and we would go to sleep. It wasn’t every day, like this, I mean. Sometimes he wouldn’t be drunk and he would turn away from me in bed. I would hug him from behind. “Why do you ignore me now?” I asked one day. He took my hand from his stomach and kissed it. “Sorry, baby. So much has been going on… with Megan pregnant and… our baby girl…”
Finally, he turned to face me. “I can pay attention more to you now.” He smiled as he kissed me lightly on the lips. It was a quick kiss and when he pulled away, my mouth was still partly open. Both of us knew the kiss was too short, but we were too preoccupied in our thoughts to notice. I was in painful thoughts each week sometimes, I wish I had lithium to help me, but I knew that I couldn’t take such drugs now… Jared has been leaving me in a world of fear. The fear of being forgotten, the fear of losing him. The fear of losing everything I worked so hard for…
I met up with Monique to talk about my problems. This reminded me of high school. Once again I was the “girlfriend” and I was her dream boy. Those memories made me smile. Monique decided to go and get coffee at a café, and I agreed. She decided that I should pick her up from her apartment like a gentleman. Ah… good old Monique. Treating every meeting like a date, and I the lucky bachelor.
Once at the café, she looked into my eyes, stirring the coffee, (which had nothing to stir in it whatsoever) smiling. “So, something wrong with Jared?” She didn’t take her eyes off me as she sipped her coffee, and then proceeded to stir it some more. “Ah… you know how to read my mind…” I said smiling. “So how’s it with you and… ah I forget his name…”
“Vick. Yeah I broke up with him.” She looked around as if in search for new boys. “It didn’t work out. Haha he left his apartment to me. Lucky me, eh?” I nodded.
“I never liked him. I knew it wouldn’t work out.”
“Ah… they say friends know more about your relationships than you do.” She started giggling. I stroked my cup of coffee. We both knew that once again, she was lying to herself and me. I knew that she knew that Vick would never work. I knew that she still loved me, and for some reason it was somewhat pleasant to know that.
“Monique, I am going to have a child soon. You know, from Megan. Well it’s Jared’s child… you know what I mean! Monique I want a child… not from Megan. Can… you be my surrogate mother?” I looked into my reflection in the dark coffee. Monique’s eyes seemed to light up. “Oh yes, yes I’d LOVE to be your surrogate mother!” I smiled, “Great!” I said. “We can meet up on the costs and stuff like that later.”
“Costs? COSTS?” She started laughing, “Not for YOU my friend! I will do it for free! And we don’t have to meet later on either.” She paused her talk and called for the check. I started reaching for my wallet, but she stopped me. “Let’s do it half and half, okay?” I didn’t know what to say… I was speechless. I put down the ten-dollar bill on the table and she pulled out another bill. “After we pay the bill we can go to my apartment for the… arrangements.”
I studied Monique’s face. Did she get too much liquor in her coffee? What was she talking about? Did she think I want her? Sexually? No… no… I was too polite to say anything as she grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the café. She dragged me to my car. “Drive to my apartment! DRIVE!” She was laughing hysterically now. As we neared her apartment, her grip on me tightened, like a choking noose on the neck of some teenager, a teenager I used to be.
Monique unlocked her door and pushed me inside. “So when do we start?” She asked excitedly. I looked around her poor surroundings, feeling sorry for her. She had one couch, a small and old television, and a small coffee table. She sat on the couch sighing. “I know. I know you don’t want me, but that is the only way I willing to be a surrogate mother.”
“Monique… surrogacy doesn’t work that way…”
“Please, Richard. Both of us will be happy. I will have what I wanted since high school… and you will have your child. You KNEW I loved you and yet you hid that fact… that was very cruel of you… so please…” She pressed herself against me and I felt her unbuttoning her shirt, her breasts pressing against my chest. “Please do this for me…”
I grabbed her wrists and held her away. “Monique… I can’t. I can’t cheat on Jared! Not this way…” She wriggled her wrists out of my hands.
“HE could be cheating on YOU! Do you not realize it? He was a ladies’ man all through high school and the beginning of college! What makes you think he forgot women now?” My eyes and hers started tearing up, and I tried to hide that by closing them.
“PLEASE, Richard. For me… for your best friend.” She started crying and I let her in my arms. After a few moments I helped her sit on the couch, and as the tears streamed down my cheeks, I ran out of the door.
When I got home, Jared was already there. He was holding a few papers. “Look, Richard. I can’t live like this. I love Megan, okay? I love her… and I was confused and that is why… I asked for you to marry me… and please just… just don’t cry okay?” I stared at him as though he didn’t just say all of that to me. I stared at him as though he was a blank space, and when I realized that this wasn’t just a bad dream… I cried. I never have cried harder in my life. “No, Jared! No please we can talk!” I said through my tears. “Please Jared!” He took me in his arms, hugging me, but I didn’t feel the love in that hug.
“Sorry, we have to get a divorce and..”
“NO! Jared! Please! Please!” I kept on begging and reasoning. It just wasn’t working. “Look, Richard, I loved you… I really did… but after Megan and I made love… I realized that I am not gay… and that I was just caught up in your beauty. Megan was right. This marriage was ridiculous. Our love is ridiculous…”
“JARED! Don’t say that!” I clung on to him. “You love me, right?” I knew that he would do it but I wished he didn’t. He shook his head no, and told me that I had a week to move out.
I wiped the tears out of my eyes as I grabbed random bags out of the closet, filling them with clothes, photos, and other appliances that belonged to me. I did it quickly. Just to get out of here. Just to get it over with. I grabbed my car keys and Jared helped me drag my stuff downstairs. Right before I got in the car, without a word or warning, I kissed him. Passionately. Just to get all the love for him out. It didn’t work, but the last kiss was magnificent. I didn’t wave; say good-bye or anything as I slammed the car doors.
My romance with Jared didn’t work out, and I stopped looking for a new one. Monique took me in her apartment and let me live with her. A month after I moved out of Jared’s apartment, we were divorced. It was quick, like lightning, signing that paper and seeing Jared for the last time. Monique and I didn’t talk much, except on those special nights, where we would remember our childhood together. Otherwise, my life was officially over. I was left, wilted in Monique’s apartment.