Aaron, a seventeen-year-old, had crushes on lots of guys, but his biggest crush was on Harold, or as everyone called him, Harry. Harry had a girlfriend, Pamella and they’ve been together for a few months. They were a power couple, Harry, an athlete and Pamella, a cheerleader. Aaron had a crush on him since he saw him at a big football game his older sister dragged him to. They sat in the front row close to the technical area or dugout and he saw Harry in his uniform. His biceps were sticking out of his sleeves and sweat formed around his pits. He wiped his face with his jersey and his abs revealed themselves. But his girlfriend cheered him on on the sidelines.
Maybe it was attraction? He was attractive, but Aaron couldn’t get that image off his mind. He couldn’t stop thinking about him. He even dreamt of him.
Aaron knew Harry and Pamella would break up eventually, so he would wait. But what if he wasn’t gay or bi?
Harry saw Aaron staring at him in the halls. He was a little creeped out and a little flattered. Guys never looked at him like that, only girls did. He felt weird, but he ignored the feeling.
After football season and the first semester, Harry was assigned to retake his Psych I class. He failed it the first time and needed the credit to graduate.
This was Aaron’s first time taking the class since he opted out of taking it the first semester.
They were in the same class, Aaron couldn’t stop staring at Harry.
And Harry tried to focus on the lesson, so he wouldn’t fail the class again.
A few weeks into the class, their teacher assigned them to work in partners on a project. They would pick a mental illness and present the details of it in front of the class. They had two weeks.
“We’re doing bipolar disorder!” Harry demanded impatiently.
“Okay,” Aaron said quietly and quickly in submission. He couldn’t look at his crush in the eye, so he looked down.
“We can work on it today after school. It’s winter so I don’t have football practice.”
The school bell rang and class ended. “See you after school.”
The school day sped by Aaron.
It dragged on for Harry.
Aaron met Harry outside the library. Aaron led him into the library and to his favorite computer, the one with the least sticky keys. Harry sat at the computer next to him.
A few other students were around in the library, but nobody they knew.
Aaron pointed at the monitor to Harry the slideshow he prepared for them to work on.
“You started it already?” Great–”
“What you don’t talk? This project is going to be hard if we don’t communicate.”
Aaron nodded and pouted his lips in thought. He pulled out his notebook, wrote something down, and set it on the table.
Harry pushed the notebook away. “Look, you can talk to me. It’s okay.”
Aaron rushed through his thoughts, thinking of what to say. What if he knows? What will he think of my voice? What time is it? He rubbed his hands together.
Harry wrote down his email in the notebook and under it, he wrote: I know.
Aaron’s eyes widened. What does he know? Does he know I like him? What do I say?
“Yeah, I know.”
Aaron built up the courage to say, “You know what?”
“I know you like me.”
“What?” Aaron asked as his face turned beet red.
“H–h-how do you know?”
“I see the way you look at me. I’ve never had a guy look at me like–the way you do.”
Aaron anxiously laughed. “Let’s get on with the project.”
“Alright, just know I know.”
Aaron shared the slideshow he previously made to Harry’s email. Harry opened it and they began researching the disorder.
Aaron worked on the second slide, while Harry worked on the third, and so forth. Aaron worked on the bipolar I parts and Harry worked on the bipolar II parts.
A few days a week they met in the library to work on their slideshow and they worked on it in their free time.
At one of their last library work sessions, Harry asked, “So, what do you like about me?”
Aaron smiled and looked at Harry’s school jersey logo, a rocket with a circle around it. He remembered the first time he saw him, again with that symbol on his sleeve.
“I like your smile,” Aaron replied.
They got back to the project.
Harry’s girlfriend got word of their chummy relationship, so she asked him to meet her at the park.
“So, I’m here. What’s the big emergency?” Harry asked her.
“So, what’s with you and Aaron?”
“We’re just friends.”
“So, you’re more than projector partners?”
“Okay, but do you still love me?” Pamella asked him.
He hesitated for a few seconds, “I do.”
“There, right there. You’re falling for him, aren’t you?”
“What? No, I only have eyes for you.”
“Yeah, right. I saw you with him at the movie theatre.”
“So? I can’t do things with my friends?”
“But what?” Harry turned around and stormed off, feet stomping.
Aaron heard about Harry and Pamella’s altercation and thought about asking him on a date. But he was too nervous and didn’t want to disrupt their relationship.
The day had finally arrived, presentation day. Harry’s girlfriend sat in the back of the class since it was her study hall.
When it was Harry and Aaron’s turn to present, they walked up to the front of the classroom.
Harry read his notecards and the slideshow as Aaron worked the arrow keys on the teacher’s computer keyboard.
“Bipolar disorder and its types by Harry Ameson and–”
“There are four basic types of bipolar disorder, one and two, cyclothymia, and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified…Bipolar one and two are the main types of the disorder…Type one is mainly manic episodes but can include depressive episodes. A person with bipolar one doesn’t need to have a depressive episode to be diagnosed with bipolar one. A person with bipolar two has manic and depressive episodes, but depressive episodes are more dominant.”
He continued to discuss the intricacies of the other types of bipolar disorder.
At the end of the presentation, Pamella walked up to him and congratulated him on a job well done. She asked to see him outside.
“Good job, but will you see him again?”
“Of course, we’re friends. Why are you so jealous all of a sudden?”
“All of a sudden? You’ve been seeing him for a few weeks now.”
“We’re projector partners? What more do you want for me?”
“I want to spend more time with you. You spend more time with him than me.”
“I want to spend more time with you too, but–”
“Forget, I don’t think this relationship is going to work anymore if we’re not honest with each other.” Pamella stormed off.
Harry re-entered the classroom and sat back down at his desk next to Aaron’s.
The bell rang as the last group finished. Harry agreed to meet Aaron for lunch at the cafeteria.
The lunch bell rang and a mob of students rushed into the cafeteria. They waited in line to grab their food and sat at the lunch tables.
Aaron waited at the lunch table farthest from his classmates. He pulled out the sandwich his mother packed him from his lunch.
Once Harry walked toward the table, Aaron beamed with delight.
But Harry frowned and looked down. He sat down at the table.
“What’s wrong?” Aaron asked.
“Pamella broke up with me.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” Aaron thought about tapping him on the shoulder, but he felt that would be inappropriate. “What happened?”
“She ended it. We were growing apart.”
“Too bad.” Aaron thought about asking him out on a date, but he was too nervous and he felt this was the wrong time. Harry was too vulnerable.
Aaron dug into his sandwich and munched on his potato chips. He shoved the chips into his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and bit into it.
Harry ate his pizza from his lunch tray.
“You need something to get your mind off her. Maybe we could go see a movie this weekend?”
“Nah, this weekend I need some much-needed me time.”
“I understand, take all the time you need.”
Harry’s mind was elsewhere so he didn’t hear the second part. “I mean we were together for a few months, but it only felt like a few weeks.”
“The faster you can get over her. I mean–I’m sorry, what can I do for you?”
Harry shook his head.
They finished their lunches and went back to class.
A few weeks passed and they agreed to meet again in the cafeteria.
This time Harry sat at the table first, he chose the table they sat at a few weeks ago.
Aaron walked toward the table hugging his lunchbox.
“I got an F on my math test.” Aaron sat down.
“But you’re so smart. What happened?”
“I don’t know, I studied extra hard for it. Maybe I’m not as good at math as I thought I was.”
“Don’t say that. You’ve got to study harder next time and get a better grade..”
Aaron giggled. “Why are you so happy and positive today?”
“I’m spending February vacation in Florida!”
“Yeah, but that means I can’t spend it with you,” Aaron whispered.
“What was that?”
“Well, my family and I will be going to the beach. I’ll get to surf and tan.”
“I might not recognize you when you come back.”
“You might be right.”
They finished their meals and the end of lunch bell rang.
The day before February vacation was a snow day, so the students of Suburban High got an extra day of vacation. Aaron stayed home, while Harry waited at the airport with his family. Their flight got canceled and they couldn’t get another flight until the next day.
The next day, Harry and his family got on their flight. They arrived in Orlando four hours later and Harry was excited to hit the beach. He had been working out and wanted to show off his body. Once he set his bags down in the hotel room, he asked his parents if he could head to the beach. They agreed and they would meet him there later.
Harry packed a bag and changed into his swim trunks.
He rented a surfboard from the surf shop and walked over to the beach. The temperature was rising, so he took off his tank top.
He walked onto the beach and removed his flip-flops. He rushed to the water with his board in hand and maneuvered around other beach go-ers.
The waves crashed onto his feet as he wadded through the water. He got on his board and paddled through the waves. Once he saw a big wave coming, he stood on his board and rode the wave to the shore. He walked back onto the beach and slicked back the bangs of his hair. He got a few whistles from some women. He smiled and looked around, checking out girls and guys. He had never noticed that guys can be so attractive. He grabbed a drink of water from a water bottle in his backpack and packed it away. He rushed back to the water. The waves were turbulent, but he still went in. He again paddled in and stood on his board, but this time he wiped out before he could reach the shore. A lifeguard rushed to his aide just in case, but he was fine.
He surfed every day for the rest of his vacation.
While Aaron waited for Harry to get back, he decided to write a short story. He had written a few pieces in his creative writing class at school and he enjoyed it.
He sat at his computer and looked at the blank screen. He typed out a few character names: Jerry, Alex, Sam. He picked the name Gerald nicknamed Jerry. What does Jerry do? I guess Jerry could be a high schooler like me. Write what you know. Now, what does Jerry do?
He began to type out the story and his thoughts flowed like a river onto the screen.
He got stuck at Jerry’s crush. Should they be a girl or a guy? He scribbled something down in a notebook. “Guy, definitely guy,” he said to himself. He named Jerry’s crush Adam.
Days went by and Aaron wrote his characters into a romantic relationship. His characters were in the same Psych class and assigned to do a project on social anxiety together. They got closer and later presented in front of the class. Jerry asked Adam on a date, but he rejected him. He already had a boyfriend. Jerry was devastated.
The week ended and it was time for Aaron to return to school after February vacation. Aaron and Harry once again met in the cafeteria at lunchtime.
“So, how was Florida?”
“Good, the flight there was delayed, so we stayed there one less day. But I still surfed every day. I did wipe out once, but I was okay. How was your vacation?”
“Good, I stayed and wrote this,” Aaron handed Harry a printed ten-page short story.
“What is this?”
“It’s a short story I wrote that I wanted you to read.”
“You write? What’s it’s about?”
Harry took out an empty folder in his backpack and placed the stapled pages into it. “I look forward to reading it, later.”
“And I look forward to hearing what you think of it.”
The school day ended and Harry took the school bus home. He pulled out the folder from his backpack. There were only a few students so Harry began to read “Never Boyfriend”, a short by Aaron Norstan.
He looked up and it was his stop. He quickly tucked the story back into his backpack. He walked up to his house and opened the front door. His mother greeted him and he rushed upstairs. He continued to read the story.
An hour later, he finished the story and called Aaron.
“Hello?” Aaron answered.
“I finished your story,” Harry said.
“So, what did you think?”
“I was great, but I have one question. Did you want this to happen to us?”
“Are you sure? Because the characters seem a lot like us.”
“We have been getting closer, but I’ve never thought of you that way.”
“Give it a try.”
“I’ve never dated a guy before, only girls.”
“I know, but it’s only a date. If you don’t like it, you never have to do it again.”
“Alright, where are you taking me?”
“You’ll see, I’ll pick you up next Saturday at five.”
“Okay, see you then.”
Aaron couldn’t wait for this date. This was the first time he asked a guy out, but his nerves got the best of him. He almost canceled the date, but he had to go through with it. He really liked Harry.
Harry waited in anticipation. He never went on a date with a guy. He expected it to be similar to dating a girl, but a little different.
The day finally arrived, Friday. Aaron drove up Harry’s driveway and knocked on his front door.
“Hello, Mrs. Ameson. Is Harry home?”
“Harry! Someone’s here to see you.”
Harry walked down the stairs in a novelty tuxedo shirt and jeans. He didn’t know what to wear or where his date was taking him, so he wore the nicest thing he owned.
Aaron wore a nice tucked-in dress shirt and khakis.
“Where are you two off to?” Harry’s mother asked.
“Um, a diner downtown called Vinnie’s,” Aaron replied.
“Oh,” Harry said surprised. He followed Aaron outside.
They linked arms and walked to Aaron’s car. Aaron walked around the car and opened the door for Harry.
“Wow, what a gentleman,” Harry complimented.
Aaron walked around the car and got in the driver’s seat. He drove Harry downtown.
He parked across the street from the diner and they got out of the car. They walked across the street and walked in. The diner was oddly empty for a Saturday evening, so they sat down anywhere. They chose the farthest table near the window.
The waitress came over. “Can I start you boys off with drinks?”
“Sure, I’ll just have a water with ice,” Aaron replied.
“And I’ll have a coke,” Harry said.
“Alright, I’ll be back with those soon.” She walked back to the kitchen.
Harry stared at her from behind and Aaron furrowed his brow in confusion and anger.
“Hey, I’m over here.” Aaron snarked.
Harry looked back at Aaron. “So, what’s good here?”
“Everything, I used to eat here with my mom when I was younger.”
“Really? How’s the chicken?”
“Great, I like the chicken parm.”
“I’ll get that. What are you getting?”
“The bacon mac n’ cheese.”
The waitress returned to take their orders and left to put them in.
“So, uh. Got any siblings?” Aaron asked Harry.
“No, do you?”
“Can I be blunt?”
“Have you dated any other guys?”
“No, I should ask you the same question.”
“I’ve never dated a guy. Were there any almosts?”
“No, I’ve only had crushes. You’re the first guy I pursued.”
“Let’s change the subject, do you live with your mom, dad, or both.”
“I live with just my mom, my parents are divorced. How about you?”
“I live with just my mom too. My parents are also divorced. I guess we have more in common than I thought.”
“Yeah, we do.”
The food arrived and they ate.
Harry used a knife to cut into the chicken and took a bite with a fork.
“This is delicious. This is by far the best chicken parm I’ve ever had and I’ve only eaten a few in my life. I had some chicken parm in Florida and that was good, but this is amazing.” Harry continued to eat.
“I’m glad you like it.”
“How’s your macaroni and cheese?”
“Wonderful, I’ve had it before, so it’s like tasting the past or re-living it.”
They finished their meals and the check came. They fought over who was going to pay and in the end, they decided to split the bill.
Harry decided he liked Aaron, but he thought the relationship wouldn’t last. They’d be going to college soon and they wouldn’t see each other as much.
“But we could talk and text every day,” Aaron countered.
“I’d be busy with school and sports. I hope to get a football or hockey scholarship,” Harry replied.
“Oh, but I really like you.”
“I really like you two, but we’re too similar. We’d run out of things to talk about.”
“That’s not true. We’d–”
“Shh-I’ll see you around.”
Aaron saw Harry one last time, during their graduation. Harry’s last name was one of the first people to be called, so Aaron saw him walk on stage and grab his diploma.
They talked in the courtyard outside the arena after the ceremony.
“When will I see you again?” Aaron asked Harry.
“You never know. Maybe we’ll see each other in the future. We could bump into each other at the supermarket and catch up. Don’t worry you’ll meet other better guys. Better than me.”
“No, I won’t,” Aaron put his head down in sadness.
Harry lifted Aaron’s chin up with his hand. “Hey, you will.”
“You think so?”
“I know so,” Harry kissed Aaron on the lips.
Aaron felt like he was floating.
Harry felt like it was familiar.
“Wow,” they said in unison after their lips unlocked.
“That’s to remember me by better,” Harry said as he walked away back to his family.
Aaron was at a loss for words in his awestruck and lovestruck state.
Maybe they would meet again one day.