Visceral is a short story based on the main character Shae. He’s about to leave high school and step into the real world, but there’s one problem: he’s still in the closet. He has the biggest crush on his best friend, Jaime and he knows that once Jaime finds out about his crush their friendship will be over.
At a post-graduation party at Jaime’s house the unthinkable happens – his best friend, the guy he’s in love with comes this close to outing him without realising it. With no other choice Shae confesses to his friend Rick, hoping that he will understand and help him keep his secret from Jaime.
Shae plans to run.
But without realising it, the threat of leaving puts Jaime in a corner. Does he does whatever he has to just to keep his best friend sane and at home were he’s loved, or does he give up his friendship and keep his world safely as it is?
Shae took another drink to try to distract himself. His friends were having a great time at their post-graduation party. High school was officially over and now it was time to do the impossible. He didn’t want to do it, but he didn’t have much choice. In a few hours everything would change and he would lose everyone he had ever loved in his life. Everyone who had ever mattered to him.
He’d had the same group of friends since he was in single digits. They had been through everything together; knee scrapes, learning to fight, their first drink, first crushes, first heartaches. They even knew just about every detail of each other’s first time. But there was one thing no-one knew about Shae’s first crush…it wasn’t with a girl.
He had been gay since he was ten, when he came out to his parents. He wasn’t sure why he never told anyone back then, but he’d seen and heard enough to know that it was best no-one knew. He had never been ashamed or embarrassed by how he felt, but he knew that his friends might never understand. How could he tell them that he preferred washboard abs and chiselled jaws over curves and pouty lips?
One particularly well chiselled jaw was making quite the racket as he argued with his girlfriend. Jaime was he was actually called, was the most attractive male he had ever lain eyes on in his entire eighteen years of living. There were cute boys, hot boys, downright stunning boys that had caught his eye over the years, but no-one was Jaime. No-one was his best friend. The problem was that Jaime was dating Jessie. She wasn’t only a friend, but she was the sister of his other best friend Rigg. Jessie was a feisty, gorgeous girl, but a girl no less and one that Jaime had been having an on again off again relationship with for the last three years.
Shae continued to be invisible to him. He was his friend and nothing more. Sweet little Shae who needed guidance and to get laid. Not Shae who wanted to kiss him so hard it would knock his socks off. So he settled for being the invisible ‘straight’ best friend and stayed in his closet. He was scared to come out of it, even now. It wasn’t because he was worried about how his friends would react, because he was pretty sure they would take it in their stride. It wasn’t even because he was embarrassed to admit that he’d been crushing on Jaime since he was in Kindergarten.
No, the reason for his reluctance was much worse. It was Jaime. His crush was the entire reason he could never come out as gay.
He couldn’t be who he was always meant to be, knowing that he would hate him for it. He couldn’t come out and see that look in his beautiful blue eyes, that said he felt betrayed and hurt. He couldn’t see that look that begged him to explain why he had kept it a secret from his best friend. The look that asked it not to be real. So he stalled as long as he could. Now he couldn’t stall any longer.
Shae took a long drink from his bottle of beer, trying to give himself as much Dutch courage as possible. Jaime was suitably distracted, arguing with Jessie yet again in another screaming match, shouting accusations at each other. This would be his last night with his friends. The last night to be Shae, their kid, the innocent friend they knew so well. In just a few short hours he would be the kid they didn’t know any more, the kid they had never known, the person that had lied to them for years. And he hated it.
Rigg walked over and wrapped his arm around his neck, so he plastered on a smile for him. “You okay, kiddo?” He asked, ruffling his hair. He nodded, blatantly lying to him. “Looking out for our Jaime? He’s going to get in a right fix tonight if that look is anything to go by.” He said, pointing across to his sister, who was shooting daggers at his crush as he walked off and grabbed Sherry’s hand. Jaime dragged her into the living room and into his arms, as they danced on the makeshift dance floor.
“Yup.” He agreed absently. He’d been convinced a minute ago that the night couldn’t get any worse, but now he had his proof that he was wrong. Jaime was dancing with his sister, laughing as she turned to grind into his groin. He sighed in complaint and took another drink.
“I have to do something that no-one is going to like. I don’t really want to, but I know I need to. For me. To stop this insane clenching in my gut. Right here.” He tried to explain, holding his curled fist to his stomach. Rigg’s frown deepened in confusion. “Rigg, I…” He stalled, licking his lips. “I feel like I’ve been living a lie my whole life. That…that I can never be happy until I just come right out and say it.” He confessed.
Rigg kissed the top of his head, making his eyes close in appreciation. “Whatever it is you can tell us. We’re your friends and we love you.” He promised. Shae shook his head. He needed to hear that, but it wasn’t the truth.
“Not after this you won’t. Jaime, for one, will hate me.” He warned him.
“You haven’t been sleeping with Jessie, have you?” He asked, looking confused and worried. It made him laugh. He couldn’t be further from the truth.
“No. I promise, you don’t have to beat the crap out of me for that.” He chuckled. It was just all kinds of gross to think of sleeping with his best friend’s sister. It was even worse to see the way Jaime and Sherry were dancing, as if they were just a step or two away from having sex. He wanted to storm over there and break them apart, but that was far too complicated to even consider. Rigg smiled and brushed a strand of hair from his face, cupping his cheek as he caught his attention.
“Then it’s not a big deal, is it? We will always love you.” He swore, even crossing his heart cheekily. He couldn’t help but smile back at him. It was such a beautiful lie.
“You’re right. Besides, I can tell you all tomorrow. There’s no reason it has to be tonight. I don’t want to ruin the party.” He nodded his agreement. Rigg frowned and swatted the back of his head in disapproval. He laughed at him, giving him a playful shove in return.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.” Jaime tapped the karaoke mic as the music was shut off, capturing everyone’s attention. Shae shook his head to see that he was clearly drunk out of his mind as he climbed up onto the side table. They were in his living room so it was his own furniture he would ruin, but it didn’t stop him from being an idiot.
“Thank you all for coming. I have a very big announcement to make.” He explained, swaying a little. He held his arms out to steady himself, doing a little drunken dance as he caught his balance again. “It seems we have a virgin in our midst.” He laughed, which only made the whole crowd of kids from their year laugh with him, looking around the room to spot the unfortunate virgin. Shae just shook his head in disapproval. He would never understand what the big deal was about when or whether a person lost their virginity. He had no interest in hearing about it.
Rigg made a move to step forward, clearly about to put an end to Jaime’s drunken rambles, but Everett got there first. He grabbed the mic from his hands, arguing with him the entire time.
“Dude, you’re wasted.” He complained. Jaime pushed him away weakly.
“No. He’s our friend and it’s our duty to make sure that he doesn’t go to college a virgin.” He argued, making Shae’s heartbeat speed up. He couldn’t believe it. Jaime was looking over Everett’s head to him! But he couldn’t…he shouldn’t…this was a disaster. He could feel Rigg’s hand gripping his shoulder tighter as he caught the glance. He didn’t know what he thought it meant, but he looked up at him in a panic, hoping he could help.
“Rigg,” He said, only to stop. He didn’t know what to say. Rigg looked at him, realisation already in his eyes as he cupped his face.
“You?” He asked, not even a little surprised.
“Rigg, it’s not what he thinks.” He whispered as Jaime and Everett argued, fighting for control of the mic. He started to cry when he realised that Sherry had ratted him out. She probably thought that just because he didn’t date girls that meant he was still a virgin and had to be humiliated in front of their entire senior year. With no clue what to do he stood on his tip toes and whispered in Rigg’s ear. “I’m gay.” He explained.
Rigg pulled back, this time in shock, but he seemed to get over it quickly as his eyes went from confused to soft understanding. He looked over at Jaime, swallowed hard and took his hand.
Before Shae could ask what was going on he was being led out of the room and out of the house. Rigg only stopped once they crossed the garden and were behind the neighbour’s hedge. Suddenly he was being pulled into strong arms, that wrapped right around him. He held him back, unable to stop himself from crying openly. He didn’t hate him.
“Shh, it’s okay.” Rigg whispered, gently rocking him. “Do you think it was Sherry?” He asked. Shae nodded and smiled when he was held tighter. It only made him cry all the harder, realising that he probably could have come out sooner, at least to Rigg. “Was that what you were going to tell us tonight?” He wondered. He nodded again, too lost for words. Rigg kissed his forehead, surprising him even more. “You know you can’t go back in there. And you can’t be around Jaime tonight, while he’s this drunk. You’re crushing on him. That’s why you thought he’d hate you.” He realised. Shae didn’t think that needed a reply, so he didn’t bother.
Rigg caught his shoulders and gently pushed him away. He went willingly, brushing at his cheeks to rid them of his tears. “Shae, I don’t know what to do.” He apologised, looking lost. It was so endearing that he actually managed to laugh.
“It’s okay. You don’t hate me; that’s enough.” He smiled weakly. Rigg shook his head at him.
“Are you a virgin?” He asked. Shae figured that might come up, but he wasn’t sure if he would want to hear about it. He nudged his foot into the pavement as he replied.
“Who?” He demanded, with a hard edge to his voice that he wasn’t familiar with. Shae looked up only to see Rigg looking resigned. “You’re our kid. I feel like shit for not knowing this about you. This isn’t a secret; this is who you are. But I understand. And I want to know who because I need to know you were okay.” He explained. It made a strange kind of sense, so Shae smiled to himself and rubbed the back of his neck.
“No-one you know. We were careful.” He answered, biting his lower lip. Rigg raised his eyebrow in surprise. “We were dating at the time.”
“I’m glad it was real and not someone who would hurt you.” He said.
Shae smiled sadly and took a step away from him. “I’m going to miss you Rigg.” He admitted, as the tears welled again.
“What do you mean?” He wondered.
“I have to leave now. You know that. I can’t be around Jaime any more; not if he’s not my friend any more. Not with him knowing how I feel.” He explained quietly, still backing away and crying. “I don’t know if I’m coming back.” He admitted, brushing his tears away. He didn’t even know where he was going yet.
Rigg walked over and he almost ran so that he couldn’t stop him from leaving, but then he was pulled back into his arms and he broke down. He didn’t want to leave. “I love you, kid. Of everyone here tonight I’m going to miss you the most. You’re like my little brother.” He said, only making it worse. Shae held him tight.
“And you’re my big brother.” He agreed, having to take a deep breath before he could let go and back away. “But you know I have to do this.” He admitted with a shrug.
“If I keep it quiet can I come over tonight?” He asked.
“I’d love that.” Shae nodded, wanting nothing more. Except maybe to never have to leave his home and his friends. He was about to say more when he heard voices coming from behind the hedge.
“Shae!” Jaime was shouting at the top of his lungs. It made him cry harder, thinking about how he couldn’t even see him one more time because of his stupid drunken games. He backed away from Rigg, in the opposite direction from Jaime’s house. Rigg nodded and wiped away his own tears as they fell from his eyes.
“Run, Shae. We have time for goodbye’s later. Right now, run.” He insisted. Shae nodded and turned to run home.