When Jay turned on the ignition, he was about to push the starter button when Mikey reached out and held his hand for a moment; Jay turned his head and gave him a soft smile. “Wait a minute, Jay...”
He didn’t even have to guess what the problem was as he took Mikey’s hand and kissed it. “It’s okay, Mikey...my parents will like you as much as I do!”
Even though now buoyed up by Jay, confidence was still a new concept for him, so it hadn’t yet sunk in further than the surface of Miles’ identity. “How can you be sure?”
Jay leaned across the seat, cursing the floor-mounted gear shift, and pressed his lips to Mikey’s. “You’re gonna make me say it, aren’t you?” Miles looked puzzled, so Jay sighed and went on: “I hate saying things that sound like boasting...but you force me to it; everything you like about me, I learned from my parents—if I like you, then they like you. Please, Mikey—trust me on this!”
Miles was lost for a bit in those oh-so-blue eyes, and the memory of the kiss they shared on the running board just moments ago...it was like a seal to his feelings for Jay, and he hoped that the other boy felt the same. “I just want to be sure...”
Jay knew exactly where this was coming from, and he knew that the only thing which could stop this doubt was to actually get Mikey over to his parents for concrete proof. “If you really want to win them over, try some Danish!”
Mikey frowned, being pretty sure that Jay was teasing him. “Why would some pastries help—aren’t flowers or candy more traditional gifts?”
“No you big dummy,” Jay said in his own imitation of last night’s Fred Sanford exasperation. Mikey does it much better than me—I just hope it relaxes him some. “I mean the language; my family came over from near the Danish border with Germany, and speak both languages.
“My mom—mor—likes it if we speak it, so I use it when I want something special—like having you come over!” When Jay said ‘special’, he gave Mikey another kiss. Naturally, Miles blushed two shades of crimson and looked aside with a small grin.
Jay said I was special...or was having me visit the special bit? In the times we had talked, even kissed, he hadn’t said anything about whether he actually felt anything for me beyond friendship...at least not in words. When I said I’d be his roots, I meant it as an expression of my deepest feelings for him, and he’d kissed me—but he hadn’t actually said anything! If I asked him, was it too soon? Would he run away? Would I scare him if he thought I was too ‘clingy’? What should I do?
At this point, the thought of Kurt and his Call, and his promise to ‘make it worth my while’, came into my head. I thought Kurt was nice, even pretty cute, but he wasn’t Jay....He had a sexy-as-hell voice and he certainly had an active imagination—Kurt would be the ideal boy if I wanted some quick relief...but again, he wasn’t Jay. I could be a good friend to him, but nothing more.
I didn’t really believe it, didn’t even want to think it—but what if all Jay wanted was sex, like our joking had implied? The ‘sex’ with Kurt was very nice...but once we hung up, it was done, and I felt empty emotionally—sex with Jay? I wanted it badly, but I also wanted much more than that; it would be cool beyond words—but only because my heart was already his.
I had to know. What if the answer isn’t what you want? That insidious whisper came out of nowhere, but it only took a moment to figure out that it wasn’t a new voice—it was the architect who designed the prison I was trying so hard to escape.
“Jay?” I tried to keep my voice even and at a normal level to try to disguise how important this was to me, but even to myself I felt like I’d failed at that. “....” Shit—nothing came out! I could see the mason mixing a fresh batch of mortar to repair the prison walls...the bricklayer had the stones already stacked for use. I couldn’t, wouldn’t go through that again!
“Come back in, Jay—please?” I opened the door and climbed out, heading for the only place I felt safe—my bedroom. If he was going to leave me, I’d rather he did it knowing everything. I pulled my journal from its hiding place, and set it on my desk for him to find next to my antique L.C. Smith Brothers typewriter. I heard his footsteps padding down the hall, and his whispered “Mikey?” as he walked to the bed and sat on the edge.
I looked back at him over my shoulder from my curled-up fetal position. My voice was hoarse from the depths of my emotion, and I was pretty sure it scared him—it did me. “That’s my latest journal; I’ve been keeping one for a few years now. In there are my deepest secrets, feelings...dreams. It helps me cope—until today, no one has even known it existed.
“Maybe I’m sick, I don’t know...but you need to know who you want as a friend, before it’s too late.” I turned back to face the wall, “You show up about four months ago.”
It was all in there...from his first ‘hi’, to the kiss we shared as he left last night. Every doubt, every ray of hope, everything I’d been too embarrassed to say out loud. Even the ‘talk’ with Kurt, though not in every lurid detail. I could feel him get up off the bed and walk over to pick up the cloth-covered book, “Mikey, you sure? It won’t change anything for me.”
My breath caught in my throat, but this was too important; Jay had to know it all, for his own good. “Read, Jay...I’ll talk after, if you still want to.” The last words I’d written in there just this morning were:
I love you, Jay Beckel.
I could hear the old wooden desk chair creak as he sat in it, I could see in my head, him looking at me before opening the red cover to the point I’d mentioned—the first time I met Jay in Art class this semester. He swivelled the chair around a bit at first, even tipping it back a time or two, then he settled so the light from the window shone brightest on the creamy pages. For five minutes I lay there, but the tension got to be too much for me.
I reached under my pillow for my notepad and pencil which I kept there in case an idea hit me in the middle of the night, and slipped off the bed to sit on the floor, in the corner by the front window. I propped the small book on my knees which were drawn up toward my chest, and stared at the blank purple paper before me. If the guys at school saw this, there’d be no doubt I was queer—only girls or fags wrote on this stuff and I certainly wasn’t a girl.
I shut my eyes for a bit, but I could still see Jay sitting across the room from me, sun like liquid gold in his hair, his shoulders filling out the tee-shirt he wore so well...I looked back to my empty page before my little head took over and left me unable to concentrate on my poem. For a long time I’d had a fantasy about the possibility of freeing myself from my self-imposed exile, and I’d revealed it to Jay this morning. The first two lines flowed out smoothly as they'd echoed in my head ever since we had talked earlier, I now changed the next bit to suit Jay’s problem, twining it into my own musings. I ended the first part with my fondest wish—that Jay and I would be together forever...and the page became blurred as my eyes filled with silent wistfulness.
I could see it so clearly: Jay and I, older, side-by-side sharing a meal, laughing at a stupid joke, even holding hands and leaning against one another watching the sunset like some old married couple...
“I didn’t know you wrote poetry, Mikey...” Jay’s soft voice broke into my wool-gathering, making my eyes snap open as my head jerked up to see his gentle smile. I forgot there were a few rough drafts in there! “Dang—you’re cute when you blush like that!”
Despite my anxiety over what he was reading, I felt my face heat up and couldn’t resist the smile I gave him back. “Shut up, meathead, and keep reading!”
I only had to look at him, and the next words came straight from his image to my pen—they didn’t need any thought whatsoever—this was all Jay, with a little help from Vergil. I was lost in thought trying to get the last lines down, when I heard the chair creak again, drawing my attention back to him. His hand was idly rubbing at the front of his jeans so he must be reading my little fantasy—god, he was so hot—and that thought gave me the last bits for my little poem.
“What the fuck?” So he was at the phone call with Kurt then...I fixed my gaze back to my paper, noticing that several parts had scribbled changes and crossed-out words. I tore the page out, and began to carefully re-write it in my best hand, switching to the red ball-point I kept clipped to the cover of the booklet. I was too busy with my efforts to realize what was, or rather wasn’t, going on over at the desk. Not until I heard him laugh.
What? Why was he laughing? Had it been at my feeble declaration at the end? He still seemed to be reading, so I felt very relieved that it wasn’t at my last words...I went back to my final version of what I was tentatively calling Jay’s Song.
I was engrossed in reading the final version, so much so that I didn’t notice him until his shadow fell across the paper. I looked up, straight into his soft blue gaze—he’d knelt down in front of me, waiting for me to look up from what I was doing—rather than interrupt me. He held the journal loosely in one hand, his index finger keeping it open at what looked to be near the last entry.
I was starting to get nervous—he wasn’t saying anything—just staring—then his lips parted, and it was time for me to face my future, whether it would be alone, or with him. He held up my journal.
“Is it true?” Not accusatory, not angry, just a whisper. I didn’t know what it was—Kurt’s call, that I got off talking to him, that Kurt was into boys too, that there were other guys at school like us...my last words I’d written...I needed more.
“Is what true, Jay? I put down everything as it happened...well, not every last detail, but it’s all true.” His eyes held mine, so blue, so intense, my mind started to drift again—I couldn’t help it.
“You’re hedging, Mikey. Is it true?” He held up the book again, this time open to my last entry, and his fingers pointed to those last five damning words: I love you, Jay Beckel. Before I could say anything, he tapped those words, one by one.
“I know for a fact, Miles Stevenson, that those words aren’t the whole truth—there’s more to it than that!”
He went back to my desk as I sat huddled in the corner, not understanding—everything in there was true—especially those last few words. Jay was rummaging around for something, then after a moment came back, and held out the journal to me again. On the last entry, dated just this morning, he’d added something right below my declaration:
I love you, Miles Stevenson
“Now, they’re true, min kæreste skat.” He pulled me to my feet, laying the journal on the bed, and the notebook I’d been writing in fell to the floor and landed near our feet. We both stared at it, but he was faster than I was, so he grabbed it first, letting it open to the page I’d just finished:
If I’m down, will you be my wings?
I can’t do it alone…
If I drift, will you be my roots?
See, I’m scared I’ll be lost…
With your love, I think I can fly,
With you, my heart’s at home.
Cornflower blue and shining blond,
These of you, to me sing…
During the day I am your shade,
Summer sweet, you to me…
I’ll be your roots, you’ll be my wings—
As one, Lovers, we twain.
“You did this—just now—as I read?” His tone was incredulous, awed, and he scanned the page again and again, trying to burn it into his memory. When he looked at me once more, silent tears were coursing down his cheeks.
“Can I...have it?” The way he said that was like it was an impossible wish, something too good to hope for, even for Christmas. He held it like it was made of the most fragile glass.
“I want to do it better—I can do it in fancy lettering, on parchment paper—it’s not ready yet...”
I jumped a bit at his hot denial. “NO—I want it just like this, full of you—not something that looked like it could be done by any old guy; I want it on your paper, in your handwriting—with all your love shining through every word!”
I stepped up to him, pulled the sheet gently from his fingers, wrapped my arms around him, and rested my chin on his shoulder. “Anything you want Jay...I’ll never refuse you anything.”