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 Chapter 24: Strike One

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Kell
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Join date : 2008-10-05

PostSubject: Chapter 24: Strike One   Wed May 06, 2009 9:21 pm

"What are you thinking about?" said J.

I cocked my head as I threw the ball back. We were playing catch between our backyards, him in his yard, me in mine. He had called him to see if I wanted to toss the ball around & I said sure. Here we were after about 10 minutes.

"What do you mean?"

"What are you tinking about right now?" he repeated.

"I'm thinking you're about to bring up a conversation about something any second..." I smiled as I caught his slider. I threw back a knuckle-ball. J had always wanted to know how to throw a knuckle-ball, but after I had taught him, he decided he didn't like it.

"You're good," he laughed as the ball made a nice WHACK into his glove.

"So what's up?" I said.

"Well, I was wondering...," throw, "if you wanted to come to a rally with me next week?"

I threw a curve ball.

"What kind of rally?"

Whack.

"Gay rights," he smiled. I must have stared at him for a moment because he threw the ball back to me.

"J..." I held onto the ball for a minute.

"C'mon Noahy, I'd really like to go to a rally. Mark's going, Ruby & Janie are going. Even Collin said he'd think about it. We should, too."

I threw a fast ball.

Whack.

"Oww!" he yelped, whipping his hand out of the glove & shaking it fast. "Nice throw..." he mumbled.

"J, you know I'm not a fan of that kind of stuff."

He looked at me, suspicious.

"Noah, everybody knows about us..." he started. He threw the ball back.

Whack.

"It's not that J, it's just...I don't know. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for gay rights obviously, trust me. But I'm just not the kind of person to walk in rallies or demonstrations or that kind of stuff." Forkball.

The ball went a little higher than I wanted & J had to jump a bit to get it. I mentally noted that: work on forkball.

He had a very sly grin on his face.

"What's the matter? You don't have the balls to stand up?" he smirked as he beamed a sinker right to me. I had to reach down quick to catch it before it bounced up & hit a grandslam in my own baseballs.

"Very funny. You wanna do some pitching? If you do, I need my cup."

"Sure."

"Get yours, too. I wanna work on my pitching also."

We went into our houses, got our cups & met back up outside. I decided I would catch first so I put my cup on, adjusted it & squatted down. J went through his whole form & pitched a screwball right to my glove. I had lost my catchers glove several years ago so I settled for my regular glove.

"Could you at least CONSIDER coming to the rally?" J started again.

I sighed as I tossed the ball back.

"It's just my thing. Having that kind of attention & being in crowds, preatching stuff...it's just...not me."

"You're not ashamed of being gay...are you?" he asked cautiously as he threw a slowball.

I didn't throw back. I looked at him blankly.

He looked right back at me, but then dropped his head.

I stood up & walked over to him. I lightly smacked his chin up so he was looking at me. I leaned in & kissed him square on the lips. It wasn't a peck, but it wasn't a lovey-dovey kiss either.

When I let back, I looked at him, waiting for his response. He smiled off an apology. I poked his flat tummy with a finger & then walked back to my spot & got back into my position.

"But what if you don't eve have to say anything? All you would have to do is show up & be there. That's the support we need."

"Who's 'we'?"

"The crowd of people going to the rally," J replied, pitching a changeup.

"J, I'm sorry, I just don't wanna go..."

He didn't say anything for what seemed like forever.

I admit, I felt bad.I knew that J was very sensitive about gay rights & I knew how desperately he wanted to join the cause & stand up for all the GSAs, all the LGBTs & any other gay organizations & groups. I wanted him to know that I was neither ashamed of being nor of being his boyfriend. The simple fact was...doing marches & being in rallies just wasn't my style.

I was a quiet boy, always had been. J was the opposite. He was riskier, wanted adventure & thrived on excitement. In the past, we had always allowed the other to be their own way. But since our coming out, he was pushing me a lot more often to do things, like go on the morning announcements at school & give updates for GSA, or post videos online expressing our beliefs.

Whack.

I appreciated & admired J's commitment to gay rights, I really did. But I also hoped, deep down, that he would find another defualt buddy to go to rallies with. Just because I was an advocate for equality didn't mean I HAD to go to rallies & protests, right?

Whack.

I just...I just didn't like how J was trying to change me...

WHACK.

My hand stung like hell. I took the glove off & looked at it. It was deep red.

"Dude, why are you throwing fastballs that hard? You're killing my hand here..." I scolded.

"What? I'm pitching to you," he said, with a hint of pissed-off in his voice.

"No, what YOU'RE doing is just beaming the ball at me. You're not winding up & the ball's not spinning."

He scoffed.

I put the ball on the ground next to me & looked back to him.

"Are you mad at me?" I asked him.

He looked angrily at me for a moment & then moved his eyes. He took his arms & put them behind his head, pacing around.

"I'm not MAD at you Noah, it's just...it seems like you don't even wanna support us at all. Or maybe you just don't like the things I choose to do."

"Just because I'm not as radical as you doesn't mean that I don't back you up," I retorted.

"I hardly call attending a movement rally 'radical'," he hissed.

"It is to me, all right?!" I snapped.

He blinked. I VERY rarely ever snapped, no matter what.

"To ME, it's radical. I shouldn't have to go everywhere I can find a crowd & join it, J. I don't know if there are people out there who agree with me, but it's how I feel: I can support it by just being myself & living my own life. I'm sorry if it's not what you want, but no matter how much I love you J, which you know is to DEATH, you can't change how I feel. You know I would do ANYTHING for you. But not changing how I am," I told him.

His eyes looked a little shiny, as if he were on the verge of tearing up, but I doubted it.

When I decided to end the tension, I picked up the ball & tossed it back to him.

He caught it & just stood there for a moment.

"J...?"

No, don't do it Noah. He'll know you love him no matter what.

He looked over at me, as if asking 'what?'.

Noah, stop! Don't do it.

I sighed.

Phew! Good thing you stopped yourself there.

"I'll go to the rally," I muttered.

WHAT?!

He smiled, barely. I tried to manage a smile myself, but it didn't work very well.

"Noah, you don't have to. I'm sorry," he replied.

"No, really. I wanna be there with you."

He held up his hands, stopping me.

"Noah, I know you. Don't do it just because I want you to. If you don't wanna, then don't. Really."

I felt so discordant inside that I wanted to just run away from the whole thing.

He walked over to me & wrapped his arms around me. I couldn't bring myself to do the same. I was letting him down, I knew it. I hated myself. I wished I WAS like him, always wanting to go out there & really voice what's in my head. But I wasn't. I was Noah Lainer: fair, calm & quiet.

"I'm gonna go, ok?" he said once he pulled away.

"Go where?" I asked, taken aback.

"I have homework to do & I should get started on it soon," he said.

"Ok."

He kissed my forehead & started to walk back to his house.

"Hey J?"

He turned around.

"Just curious...where IS the rally anyway?"

"It's in Boston," he said.

"That's kind of far away, isn't it?"

He nodded.

"Yup," he said, then walked towards his house.

"J," I called.

He turned his head & briefly stopped.

"Love you."

He breathed out a sigh for a second. Whether it was out of relief or stress, I didn't know.

"Love you too," he replied & then went into the house.

I had no idea how I was feeling. I think I felt horrible because all J wanted me to do was support him, Ruby & Janie in standing up for gays & lesbians. I WANTED to, but just not in the same fashion. In my mind I felt that living my everyday life as if there was no difference between me & straight people.

I was mad at myself now.

I was losing this game.

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Chapter 24: Strike One
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