Chapter 1: A New Partner
Blue River High is a fantastic school, tons of great teachers, gorgeous guys and one single gay. Fun. That’s how I had to live for many years. Since 7th grade, I realized that I had the biggest crush on Skylar, aka “Sky”, Walsh, the star quarterback. He was the hottest guy around, and the cheerleaders could testify to that. He had eyes so blue, crystals couldn’t compare to their beauty, along with sandy blonde hair that shagged at the bottom. He was in most of my classes and it took every ounce of self control for me to not even look in his general vicinity. It was so hard being the only gay here, there’s no one who I can talk to and the nearest gay community is hours away and I have no way to get there without someone noticing my disappearance. I am alone in a world I will never fit in.
The world is much like the world you know. Technology is very much the same as yours except in the medical field, where it is slightly more advanced in the sense of keeping people alive. The only main difference is the fact that all of society is split down the middle. Gays are excluded to a separate area where any kid born in there is immediately labeled gay and atheist. Living conditions are lower than those of the straight man with houses being made with lower quality materials and housing isn’t as spaced apart as the straight people. Jobs are decent, i.e., they pay okay but have no paid vacation with few and limited benefits. Straight people have heavy penalties if he/she is caught with someone of the same sex. The first penalty is only a “slap on the wrist,” and you pay a decent fine to the state for being gay. Next penalty is isolation for 6 to 12 months stripped of all rights for that time along with an even heavier fine than before. The last penalty is state eviction to the nearest gay community along with your name being put on a list for official gays practitioners. On the opposite side, if you’re born to a straight family, you can choose your religion. Catholic, Islamic, Protestant, Buddhism, Baptist, even going as far as being a Monk. Life is good for everyone here. They have well paying jobs with paid vacation and benefits. The only downside is public schools are now typically Catholic or Jewish, depending on your location. Private schools are any religion, like always, you pay for that school. It’s the worst thing for any closeted gay. That may not sound immediately bad to you, but hear me out. Try being secretly gay in a school of 1,500 straight Catholics. That’s where I come in.
It was at Blue River High where it all happened. It was at this wretched school where I disobeyed the rules and had to hide who I am. Here is where I learned that blending in is the biggest key to survival. My name is Jayce Heferton and I’m the black sheep of the herd.
The school day goes by relatively smoothly, only a few downsides on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is when I have gym class. With Sky. It is the worst time of my life during that period. Muscular guys who all just so happen to be popular jocks, with only two people being non-jocks. Myself included. It is the same as any high school gym class. Everyone changes into their uniform and then heads out to do warm-ups and play. Afterwards, we all come back into the locker room and we all change with some guys heading off to shower. I have always taught myself to change as fast as possible, not because I’m embarrassed of my figure, no way, I do have muscles, but not to the extent of the other guys in my class, and get out so I don’t have to see anyone partially naked.
Of course, the universe had other ideas and halted all my plans. Coach Ivory stopped me in front of his office, directly in-front of the showers. I could hear the running shower like gunshot in my ear, the laughter of the guys like grand church bells in my brain. My heart was beating so loudly I feared people could hear it as it tried to beat out of my chest.
“Look Jayce. You’re a fantastic student, but your record has been showing your slacking in gym. You’re not participating as hard as you have in the past, your running time has dropped. Is everything okay? No issues at home? No issues with… um…. your relationships?” Coach Ivory inquired.
“NO! No. I….I’m fine in that, it’s just…. well….” I stuttered out.
“You’re seeing someone aren’t you?” Coach asked, diving headfirst into that topic.
“Well….I mean, there is this one person I like.”
“It’s that Chloe girl from the girls class isn’t it? You and her?”
How do I reply to that? Like, I can’t just tell him “No. It’s not her. It’s Sky. You know, the hottest jock in the school. He’s the guy I like.” So I quickly just rambled out the first thing I could think of. “Y….yea. Definitely. Chloe takes up all my time and I…. I just can’t stop thinking about her.”
“Please work, please work!” I yelled internally.
“Don’t let a girl stop you, ok. You have to keep your nose to the grindstone and work.” Coach said with a semi-serious tone in his voice.
I nodded in agreement and turned to walk away just as Sky walked out of the shower where he and I ran into each other. I sat up first, rubbing my shoulder before I nearly sprinted out of the locker room leaving Sky dazed and confused in my wake. I stopped only at the far wall across from the door to enter the locker room putting as much distance as I possibly could from Sky. Sliding down the wall, I cried silent tears, knowing that I would never be able to be who I am as well as be with who I want.
Within my disheveled state I never heard footsteps approaching me. A finger tapped my shoulder making me let out a small shriek.
“You okay?” a deeper female voice asked. “I saw you curled into a ball.”
I opened my mouth to speak, but not a sound would come out. I coughed into my sleeve, clearing my throat, and swallowed all my fear. “Umm… Hi. Y…. yeah. Not my… not my proudest moment. Thanks though.”
“Okay. Sure. Now man up and quit curling into a ball.”
Her attitude shocked me. I didn’t suspect that she would have an attitude to her otherwise kind demeanor. I furrowed my brow diving into thought of her attitude compared to her demeanor only to emerge from those thoughts by the bell ringing and seeing Sky begin to emerge from the door. I bolted down the hall and right into the my next class. Luckily it’s a free period so I’m able to find a cozy corner in the ‘break space’ of the school and just curl into my thoughts. This ‘break space’ is the only remaining aspect of an equal society. Schools don’t have the funds to remove these and I’m the only person to really go down and sit in that space for longer than 10 seconds. And yet again, the universe throws a wrench into my already fracturing world. Sky walks into the room and sits down right beside me.
And with a voice as soft as silk, “Jayce. Right?”
“Yes. Why?” I asked.
“Well, Mr. Gold paired us up to do a project yesterday. Remember?”
Then it hit me. It was at the end of 6th period yesterday when Mr. Gold told us that he was going to pair us up.
“Oh yea. Umm… what did you have in mind?”
“Well, I was hoping that you would have something ready to go. I….I mean that I was hoping that you would have an idea ready. I…. I’m not the greatest in this field.”
“But you’re, like, the best. Mr. Gold loves you in class.” I replied, confused as to his meaning.
“There’s more behind that than you think. So, what should we do?” He said changing the subject.
“Well, I was thinking that we could make a make a commercial including some fallacies. But I have no clue what we could have as topic, but like, a burger joint comes to mind.”
“We could make it as if I’m a customer and you’re an environmentalist who hates the consumption of cows,” Sky said shrugging.
“Well. It could work. I mean, we’ll have to put a lot of effort into it.”
Sky and I continued talking for the rest of the period about what we could implement into the video, eventually coming to a definitive conclusion.
A few days pass as Sky and I grow more into friends. During the free period we work on the video while just talking about life and whatever comes to us.
“So, I hear that you’re taking Haven to the dance on Friday. How’d she take the “proposal”? I said laughing slightly.
“It could’ve gone better.” He said, seriousness touching his soft voice. “She denied me and said she was going with someone else. It’s fine. I was hoping to go with someone else but I know it won’t happen. There’s a secret behind it that I have have to hide and tears me apart every day.”
My expression was confused, but my mind was racing. I mean, he was opening up to me. Me! Of all people, his likely girlfriend or about to be girlfriend, or any other jock friend of his. But he opens up to me.
“….My family isn’t the best. Dad’s Jewish and my mom is Christian. Both come from monks and on my mother’s side my gram is a nun. Then there’s me.”
“What’s wrong with that? You’re Christian. Right?”
“It’s not that. I…. it’s much bigger. I have a lot of skeletons in my closet.”
“You don’t have to spring clean with me. I have my own demons too.”
He takes a deep deep breath and whispers something. “Can you keep a secret and not tell anyone?”
Isn’t that what a secret is? But I knows what he means. He’s digging out the oldest pile of bones he can and telling me. Little old boring me. Nothing special. I nod my head and lean in to hear what he’s going to say.
“Jayce… I… I’m bi,” He said almost inaudibly.