Authors: James Klise
Tags: #young adult, #teen fiction, #fiction, #teen, #teen fiction, #teenager, #angst, #drama, #romance, #relationships, #glbt, #gay, #homosexuality, #self-discovery
Using the club money, we have acquired a beautiful new screen for the auditorium. You must come help us plan the film series. Some suggestions for Halloween, please? We are pleased that you are safe, and we look forward to your return to school.
Covici’s message cheered me, but to be honest, I’ve had enough of horror movies for now. My old copies can gather dust in my bedroom. If I go back to Maxwell and work on the film series, I want to show something else. Anything else.
Love stories, maybe.
I miss Celia. I miss exploring the city with her. Even though the café is only a few blocks from her house, I never see her. Maybe they moved away or went to Mexico for the summer. I don’t expect to hear from her. She has more than enough reasons to be angry with me for a long time.
But a funny thing happened the other day.
It was a crazy-hot summer afternoon. Ivan and Anella were hanging out at the café, playing cards. They come in a lot when they’re not out sailing on Lake Michigan. Tan, their hair the color of the beach under the sun, they both get free drinks from me—for different reasons. The weirdest part? Now that they know I’m gay, it’s actually easy for us all to be friends. The old unspoken tensions are gone. We can flirt and tease one another and there’s no risk. No expectation. We feel comfortable with each other.
I even taught them to play “Sex or No Sex?” We’ll sit at a table near the window like a panel of judges on reality TV, and we speculate about random people walking by. Odds are, we’re correct at least fifty percent of the time. We all like playing games we can win.
Anyway, the other day a stranger with a familiar face entered the café. She was dressed professionally in a dark suit, not like a college student anymore. But her mousy hair, nervous mouth, and John Lennon–style eyeglasses were unmistakable.
Anella lowered the cards to her lap and whispered, “No sex.”
“You’d be surprised,” I said.
I jumped up and went to the register.
The woman gave her order for coffee and I took her money. “Can I ask you something? Is your name …
She smiled uncertainly. “Do we know each other?”
No joke, it felt almost like meeting a celebrity. “Well,” I said, “you may recall that you lost a wallet and a silver bracelet a while back, correct? If you’re interested, I know who has them.”
“Wait a minute—those things were
This was a first: accused of taking something I hadn’t actually taken.
“No, my friend just found them … on the ground.” I hesitated, wondering how specific I should be. Was she telling the truth? Maybe she was embarrassed. “She found them on the sidewalk and didn’t know how to contact you.” I scribbled Celia’s name and cell phone number on the back of an old receipt. “She’ll be glad to hear from you.”
Reading the information, she still seemed suspicious. “Thanks.” She moved down the counter, took her coffee, and turned to leave.
“Hey,” I called. “If you wouldn’t mind, tell her Jamie says hi.
. Would you remember to do that?”
She nodded and left in a hurry.
It makes me smile to think of Celia getting that phone call.
Maybe, if we both return to Maxwell in September, I’ll give her one more flower. But what would I write on the message?
Regrets—This boy regrets not being honest with you from the beginning.
Secrets and schemes—This boy has had enough of them.
Sex—Nope, not yet. How about you?
In retrospect, the whole thing feels like a mixed-up movie—part romantic comedy, part horror flick—instead of what it was, just weird and confusing normal life.
life. Maybe it’s time to start falling in love with that.
Hey Jamie, you rock!
As far as I know, no drug exists that could change a person’s sexual orientation. I made this story up. Never consulted with doctors, never cruised the Internet for information about cutting-edge pharmaceutical news. I just sat down and wrote the story using my imagination.
Moreover, I hope a drug like this
exists. I’m gay and—not to brag or tempt fate or anything—my life is pretty dang wonderful just the way it is. My whole perspective would change if I were straight. So would my tastes and my sense of humor, and who knows if I’d even be a writer? More than anything, I love my partner, Mike, and the life we share together.
But here’s something I’m not proud of. When I was young, I might have taken a drug like the one in this book. I definitely prayed for the same miracle Jamie prays for. I did not want to be gay. I wanted to be like everyone else. The notion of being gay filled me with a secret terror—a real dread of my future. And I think many gay teenagers feel that way too. That’s why I wrote this book. It’s normal to want to “feel normal,” whatever normal means. Especially in high school.
Over time, I grew up and stopped being afraid. Once the fear was gone, everything in my life changed for the better. It was a miracle. No drug required.
The author wishes to thank his family, as well as the following people for their generous contributions to this novel: Brian Farrey and Sandy Sullivan and everyone at Flux, Kate Klise, Mike Kuras, Kristine Huntley, John Carpenter, Sheila Kohler, Jonathan Demme, Anne Brashler, Alfred Hitchcock, Colleen Collins Greene, Mia Farrow, Erin O’Brien, Brian Alesia, Mary Shelley, and students at CICS Northtown Academy in Chicago, who unanimously voted for the best title.