Today is the day, I tell myself, pulling my black hair behind my ears. Today, you’re going to just walk up to him and tell him how you feel. Who cares if he has a girlfriend?
I carefully put on some eyeliner, smudging it at the corners. I take a look in the mirror and feel satisfied. Black skinny jeans, a hoodie, a Misfits shirt and my high tops. I smile at my reflection and it smiles back at me, my confidence bouncing back. I go to my desk and flip my sketchbook open, admiring his gift one more time. I close it and put it in my bag. I take a deep breath, grab my backpack and leave my room.
I go down the staircase as quietly as possible, not wanting to wake my parents or my sick brother. I quickly open the front door and close it, the early morning sending a shiver to my bones. I zip up my hoodie and wrap my arms around my waist. My teeth chatter from the cold, making my vision choppy. I stand in front of my driveway, waiting silently for the bus.
But what if he doesn’t like you? a voice asks from the back of my head. What if he’s disgusted by you?
I shake my head, scattering the negative thoughts. The bus comes rumbling around the curb and the doors open with a hiss. I grab the slim railing and get myself up the steps. The bus driver mumbles a greeting and I nod at her, taking my usual seat in the very back. Nobody else is on the bus yet since I’m the first stop. I steal a glance at the clock on the front of the bus. 6:17. I let out a yawn and hunch down in my seat, drifting off.
I startle awake as the bus jerks to a stop. I look out the window and see the familiar doors of my personal hell: high school. I stretch and wait for everyone else to get off, staring blankly out the window. I stand up once the last person has cleared and I get off the bus. I enter the double doors and look at one of the many clocks on the walls. 6:47. School doesn’t start for another half hour. I walk into the library and sit in the corner, pulling out my sketchbook and admiring my gift for him. My gift for Frank.
I trace the outline of his delicate features with a fingertip, being careful not to smudge the drawing. I take out a pencil and define his eyes a bit more, making his pupils darker. I sit back and look at my masterpiece, letting out a satisfied sigh. I look up at a clock. 7:03. Frank should be here. I pack up my things except for my sketchbook and exit the library.
I walk down the hallway that he’s usually in, scanning for him. I spot him at his locker, rubbing at his eyes. Encouraged, I pick up my pace but I slow down when I hear the sound he’s making. Is he crying? I ask myself, taking a hesitant step towards him.
“Um, Frank?” I mumble nervously, taking another uneasy step closer. He whips around and it nearly breaks my heart. His green eyes are red and puffy and his cheeks are flushed. He wipes away a tear and sniffs loudly.
“Hey, Gerard,” he says quickly, trying to cover up his crying. He turns away from me, facing his locker. He tries to put some books in his locker, but he drops them on the floor.
“I’ll get them.” I kneel down and pick up the books for him. I stand up and put them in his locker for him.
“Thanks,” he mutters, looking at the ground. I shuffle my feet awkwardly.
“Are you okay, Frank?” I venture, placing a hand gently on his shoulder. He jumps back slightly at the contact, but he settles back into it and clears his throat.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he strains, closing his locker. He gives me a weak smile, but I see his lip quiver. He tries to walk away, but I gently grab his other shoulder.
“Frank, you don’t have to lie to me,” I whisper, taking a step towards him. “Now, what’s wrong?” He looks up at me and tries to say something but he chokes up and starts sobbing. I take him over to a corner, away from prying eyes. “Frank, please tell me. What’s wrong?”
He looks up at me and it makes me want to cry. Tears pour down his cheeks and his beautiful eyes are irritated. His hair is disheveled, like he didn’t even bother to comb it this morning. “It’s Jamia,” he blubbers, his entire frame shaking.
“Jamia?” I repeat. He nods, a choked sob escaping his lips. I draw him into a hug, his head tucked into the crook of my neck. Jamia is the girl that Frank’s been dating for six months now. There was always something about her that I never liked; I guess this confirms my feelings.
“She-she ch-cheated!” Frank bawls, clinging to me like a leech. Oh, that little bitch, I think to myself, anger boiling up in me. I pause. No, now is a time for comforting Frank. There will be time for her later.
“With whom?” I ask, furrowing my eyebrows and putting Frank at an arm’s length distance. I really want to just hold him until the world ends, but people are starting to come into the hallway and I don’t need them teasing Frank for hugging me.
“W-with Billie Joe,” he squeaks, hiding his face again as he cries. I grit my teeth. I know Billie Joe. He’s a total asshole that likes to exploit a person’s weaknesses and make them feel like nothing. I should know; he’s victimized me before.
“C’mon, Frank,” I say, taking Frank’s arm and leading him towards another hallway.
“Where are we going?” he sputters, his feet dragging on the linoleum floor.
“To kick some ass,” I growl, turning right. I look around the quiet hallway and then I see them, Billie Joe and Jamia, sucking each other’s faces off against some lockers. “Hey, dickhead!” I yell across the hall to Billie Joe. He looks up and pushes Jamia off.
“Well, well, if it isn’t Faggoty Ann,” he chides, sauntering over, his thumbs hooked in his belt loops. He smirks at Frank. “Enjoying your new boyfriend, Iero?”
“Shut up,” I hiss back, letting go of Frank’s arm. Billie Joe chuckles softly and examines his fingernails.
“You know, Way, you really are a pathetic piece of shit,” he spits out at me. I glare at him and he looks up, a devious spark in his eyes. “You think you’re so great, standing up for others all the time. Don’t you realize that you’re just gonna end up getting hurt?” He clucks his tongue. “Oh, wait, you don’t care about pain, do you, you emo faggot.”
“I told you to shut up,” I seeth, my hands clenching into fists.
“Ooh, what’s gay boy gonna do?” Billie Joe taunts. “I’m so fucking scared!”
“Bee J, you might wanna stop,” Jamia whispers, putting a hand on Billie Joe’s shoulder. He shrugs her off.
“Why stop? It’s not like he’s gonna do anything,” Billie huffs, smirking at me. His eyes glisten with pure malice and he looks over at Frank. “Oh, and I just wanted you to know, that I’m fucking your girl, you faggot. Yeah. Enjoy sucking this loser’s dick.”
That’s it. Nobody calls my Frank a faggot. Before Billie Joe can turn around, my fist smashes into his face. He stumbles backwards into Jamia who just stands there, absolutely stunned. He reaches a hand to his bleeding nose and pulls it away to look at it.
“Oh, would you look at that,” Billie Joe muses, showing his hand to Jamia. “Faggoty Ann’s got it in him after all. We’d probably be friends if he wasn’t too busy blowing someone.”
“I said SHUT UP!” I yell, launching myself at Billie Joe. I knock him onto the ground and I straddle his torso, punching him from one side to the other. Jamia screams for us to stop, but I ignore her. After punching Billie Joe about five times, I get off. I look over at a shocked Frank and adjust my hoodie.
“I bet you liked that, huh, gay boy?” I hear Billie Joe croak. “Being on top, eh? You look like a bottom to me.”
I turn around, enraged, ready to put my fist through Billie Joe’s skull, but Frank grabs my wrist. “Don’t,” he whispers sternly, an urgency lining his voice. “He’s not worth it.” I glare at Billie Joe and then stalk off with Frank.
• • •
“Wait, you did what?” Ray asks me, his eyes wide under his fro. Bob is silent as he stares at me with a mixed look of horror and respect plastered on his face. Frank sits next to me silently, looking at his lap.
“I, uh, I beat up Billie Joe,” I repeat. Ray and Bob lean back in their seats.
“Dude, that’s some crazy ass shit,” Ray says, an astonished look morphing his features.
“Mikey misses everything,” Bob mumbles, leaning over his lunch tray and picking up a corn chip. We eat the rest of our lunch in silence and then the bell rings. Ray and Bob depart for English and Frank and I go to Art. We walk down the halls silently, Frank keeping a bit of a distance between us.
“I’m sorry Frank,” I whisper once we sit down. He looks up at me and forces a smile.
“Why? You totally destroyed Armstrong,” he says. “Don’t be sorry, he deserved it.”
“Alright now,” Mrs. Ballato says, clapping her hands together at the front of the classroom. “Get out your sketchbooks and draw the person you’re attracted to.”
The class was silent for a bit because of how bluntly she stated it. Finally, someone broke the silence and asked, “What if they’re not here?”
Mrs. Ballato cleared her throat and leaned against her desk. “Draw them as best you can, whether they are in this room or not. It doesn’t have to be someone you wish to be involved with romantically. It can be someone you admire.”
Frank and I instinctively look at each other and then we look away immediately. We both get out our sketchbooks and start drawing. I’m careful not to show him the other drawing I did of him; that’s for later.
The whole class works, the low buzz of conversation permeating the silence every now and then. I draw Frank to the best of my abilities, capturing the sadness in his eyes. I draw in his other features, shading his face in. I decide to add a tear making its way down his left cheek. Mrs. Ballato claps her hands again, startling me. Damn, can that woman clap.
“Alright class, time’s up! Now, I want you to show your picture to whomever you drew. If they’re not here, just show your partner what you’ve done so that you can get some feedback.”
Frank flips his sketchbook so that it’s facing me. He drew my face wonderfully. It’s like looking in a mirror. However, he added a split lip with blood running down the side of my mouth and a cut eyebrow with a butterfly bandage on it. He gave me a black eye too.
“Well, don’t I just look lovely,” I joke. Frank grins, punching my arm playfully. I see some writing scrawled in the margins:
“He saved me. That just makes me love him more. He actually cares about me. I love him for that.”
I sit back and try to hide my blushing, not wanting to reveal that I know what I know. Frank looks at me quizzically. “What? Something wrong?”
“No, no, it’s just that I’m absolutely flattered that you chose to draw me,” I assured him. “It’s lovely.” He grins, pride beaming from his face.
“Now, it’s time for your show and tell. Minus the tell, unless you wanna,” Frank says, elbowing me gently in the ribs.
“Alright, alright,” I say, lifting my sketchbook. However, what I didn’t notice was that the page I had used to draw Frank just know had been ripped from the sketchbook before, so when I stood it up, my drawing fell down and it revealed his gift. “Shit,” I whispered as the page floated to the ground, evading the table completely..
I heard him gasp. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit! I felt my eyes begin to water.
“I’m sorry Frank.” I collapsed with my sketchbook underneath my folded arms, which I buried my head into to hide the tears. I cried, right there. He knows. He knows. He fucking knows.
I feel a hand on my hair, gently stroking it. I peek up and it’s Frank, looking at me with a half-smile on his face. “Gerard—”
“Please don’t be mad at me. I’m sorry. I never should have made that stupid—”
“Gee.” I shut up. “I’m not mad. Don’t be sorry. Could I see it again?”
Reluctantly, I hand him my sketchbook and bury my face in my arms again. I peek up and watch him as he studies my drawing.
I drew him as an angel, with broken wings. It’s got him from the hips up and he’s screaming at the sky with his fists clenched and his arms extended to his sides, his elbows slightly bent. On it I’ve written a short letter poem thing in the gap between his wings, the sky and his face. It says:
“My dearest Frankie,
I know that you’re broken,
But I am too.
I’ll love you forever,
Those words ring true.
I know that this feeling,
You might not have it, too.
But today is the day,
I will try to fix you.
Frank’s eyes water. He looks at me with a smile, trying not to cry. I come out from under my arms. “And you didn’t tell me before?” he whispers, happy tears tracing down his round cheeks. I feel my eyes water. This damn room is gonna be flooded.
“I didn’t know how you’d react,” I whisper back, a tear escaping my eyelid. We’re both standing now. It’s like it’s just the two of us and time has slowed.
“How’s this for a reaction?” he exclaims before grabbing my shoulders and pulling me over into a kiss.
I feel my heart burst from the flood of emotions running through my veins. I put my arms around Frank and draw him closer to me, where he’ll be safe. He gets on his tiptoes. His lip ring is pressing cold against my mouth, sending an electrifying shiver down my spine. My cells are bursting. Frank loves me. He loves me like I love him: with every fiber of my being.
“Gentlemen! What’s going on?” Mrs. Ballato’s voice cuts through the moment and we quickly separate. The entire class is staring at us. I swallow nervously, my blood running cold. “Well?”
“Um...” I stammer out, feeling panic rise to my throat. “Well, you see—”
“Mrs. Ballato, the truth is, Gerard and I were just showing our appreciation for this particular assignment.” Frank, ever the articulate one comes to my rescue.
“Through it, we have learned that...well, we love each other. And we want to be together.”
“It’s about fucking time!” Mrs. Ballato exclaims, surprising the class. “Kids, don’t tell your parents I said that.” She turns back to us. “I was hoping that this project would help you two see that. I could sense some kind of tension and attraction between the two of you from the first day you set foot in my door. I’m glad to see that you two realized your feelings for each other. You two are beautiful together.”
And with that, she began to applaud us, along with the rest of the class. It started out slow, just Mrs. Ballato slowly clapping for us. Then, a few kids joined in and in about ten seconds, the entire class was going stark raving mad for us. I was so happy that I dipped Frank and gave him a kiss. The bell rang, signaling the end of a very eventful day.
“Now class, I do believe that it is time for you to go home. Have a nice weekend and I’ll see you Monday.”
Frank and I leave the room, hand-in-hand. We get a few looks while walking down the hallway, but we don’t care. We feel alive.
I see Billie Joe and Jamia making out against some lockers again, but I just ignored them. They weren’t worth it.
We walk out of the building, heading over to the park that’s about three blocks away. We find a bench and sit down, still holding hands. The sun’s out, warming us with it’s glow. The sky is a gorgeous blue with a few fluffy clouds floating around.
Frank squeezes my hand and I look over at him. God, he’s beautiful. I lean over and kiss him. I lean my forehead against his, the bridges of our noses almost touching.
“Gee, how long have you loved me?” Frank whispers, his eyes closed.
“Frankie, my love for you is more infinite than the stars,” I whisper back. “It’s deeper than the ocean and as true as an arrow.”
“But when did it start?”
“It started when the universe first formed. That is when it started. And today; today is the day that it was revealed. And today is a good day.”