The Long Way Home: Chapter Ten
“Daniel. Come on, Daniel. This is stupid. Daniel!”
His words were falling on deaf ears – ignorant ears. It riled Kris up to no end, and he grabbed the other boy’s elbow in an attempt to spin him round to face him. Daniel yanked his arm away, his face a picture of disgust that hurt Kris more than anything that he could possibly say.
“Leave. Me. Alone.”
“This is ridiculous, Daniel!” Kris whined. “Why are you being like this? I thought we were supposed to be friends.”
“I’m not gay!” was the snarl’s words.
“Well yeah, you’ve made that pretty clear!” Kris snapped back. “But as my friend I would’ve thought you’d give me more credit!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Daniel challenged, green eyes flashing in the daylight.
“Do you really think that even if I did like you in that way I would just jump your bones at the first chance I had?” His profuse blushing was enough to go against the denial he had voiced about his feelings for Daniel, but Kris continued in any case. “We have been friends for years! You have known me for eleven years, and although I wasn’t out at the time-”
“Okay, just stop!”
“How long have you had this...thing for me?”
Kris paused, unsure whether to be honest or not about this. Choosing truth, he said, “Do you remember that time when we were going to play football with your cousins, but they bailed on us and we ended up racing one another around the field instead?”
“Yeah, I do,” Daniel nodded, his eyes starting to glaze over as he recalled that day. “It was boiling that day; middle of July, wasn’t it? I remember we were all sweaty and decided to take a dip in the river nearby to cool off...” He frowned suddenly. “Wait.” He looked at Kris, a look of horror contorting his features. “That long?” he breathed. Kris nodded, his eyes concentrating on the ground before his feet. “A year?!”
“Ten months!” Kris corrected quickly, blushing profusely. “Anyway, that’s not the point! The point is that I never came on to you during that period of time, did I? So what’s different now?”
Daniel seemed unable to come up with an argument, his mouth opening and closing a few times. He looked like he was actually going to say something when a few of Daniel’s teammates came up to them.
“Hey! Danny boy! What are you doing talking to this poofter?” Sam, the captain, snarled. His punctuated his question by shoulder barging into Kris, causing him to stumble backwards.
“Daniel, please. We were friends. Best friends! Why can’t we go back to that?” Kris begged. Daniel walked over to him under the watchful eyes of Sam and the others. Kris allowed himself to get his hopes up as Daniel looked uncertainly at him – at least he wasn’t looking at him as though he was a piece of dirt.
“Daniel? Dude...” Sam trailed off, frowning in confusion. Daniel turned his head to look back at his fellow teammates before looking back to Kris, an unsure look upon his face. Then all of a sudden the green eyes turned dark and before Kris knew what was going on Daniel had knocked him to the ground. He had no time to recover as Daniel kicked him hard in the ribs before lifting him slightly by the front of his shirt.
“I’m not interested, fag,” he snarled before dropping Kris and leaving, Sam and the other boys sniggering as they followed Daniel. Kris tried not to but he let out a pitiful sob as he curled himself up in a ball, his eyes squeezed shut, silently begging the world to swallow him up, extract him from this pathetic life he lead. It was only when he felt a gentle hand on his back that he opened his eyes and looked to find the source of comfort. It was a girl he knew from his classes, Kerry Torrell. She had always seemed quite distant from everyone, so it was a surprise to see her kneeling over him, concern swimming in the depths of her hazel eyes.
“Don’t be ashamed when you’re dubbed a ‘fag’,” she said softly. “Arseholes talk shit, and those were arseholes!”
Kris laughed through his tears, allowing Kerry to help him up. He winced as he felt his ribs cry out in agony from his movement and a low hiss left his lips, but he managed to get to his feet. “Thanks,” he smiled, “but Daniel’s not an arsehole; he’s my friend.”
“Hmm. Some friend,” Kerry sighed. “Reminds me of my ‘friend’.” Her voice was dripping with sarcasm as she drawled out the word ‘friend’, using air quotes to further prove her bitterness towards this person.
“What do you mean?” Kris frowned.
“It means I’m a lesbian,” Kerry deadpanned. “Had a huge crush on my supposed best friend, Jasmine. When I came out, she ditched me. Said she heard rumours going round that I had the hots for her. I didn’t deny it, so she begged her parents to let her move school. The last thing she said to me was ‘I never want to see you again’. Nor has she.”
“Ouch,” Kris cringed for Kerry. “Have you got any other friends?”
“Nope.” She paused, looking him in the eyes intently. “Unless you have an offer for me.” Kris smiled and went to hug her, but she stepped back and away from his grip. “If we are going to be friends,” she muttered, “you must know that I don’t do hugs.”
Kris chuckled at this. “Deal,” he said.