Aaron the Astonishing

Head and shoulders of teenage boy in shower


Cole Parker


I’m a mess. I guess most 13-year-olds are in one way or another. My main faults are shyness and lack of confidence. They show up in my timid nature. I’d like to say a lot of other boys my age are like that, a bit cowardly, but most of them seem to welcome confrontations, pushing and shoving and even taking swings at each other. I hate that kind of thing. I get so nervous in a situation where I’m being physically challenged that I come close to wetting myself.

Backing down from a fight is bad enough. If you wet your pants while backing down, that’s it for you. You’re done. Maybe you sit on the edge of the old train bridge high over a rocky creek, realizing that. I wasn’t about to go that far. But I sure felt like it sometimes. I was simpatico with those who did. I did occasionally think dark thoughts. Wet yourself in public and life as you know it is over. You can’t show your face in public again, at least not in my city. Maybe not even my state.

When you’re 13 like me, you don’t have that no-show option. You don’t run your life; the adults surrounding you do. So you’d better not wet yourself. I never have. But I’ve come darn close. I have run away from a fight, though. Several times.

I have decent parents. Probably better than a lot of boys do. But how do you tell your father that you’re a coward? Or your mom, either? I don’t have much pride, but I guess I have too much to be able to do that. I don’t want them looking down on me or pitying me. But how else could they feel if I told them they’d raised a sniveling, chicken-shit son?

If I told them, Dad—whose focus is almost always on the future and rarely on the past—might well sign me up for boxing lessons. That is about the last thing in the world I want. If I can’t face anyone challenging me, how could I stand in a ring looking weak and scared and facing a guy my size with gloves on and a joyful, anticipatory leer on his face? I just couldn’t. Everyone would be looking at me, making uncomplimentary comments, and I’d be shaking in my boots. Not even raising my gloves when the ref signaled us to begin. Simply waiting to get hit so I could fall down and it would be over. Hearing the snickers. Hoping my trunks were still dry. No, no boxing lessons. No!

So I’m a mess, and I deal with it the best I can. I manage to stay away from any situation where I’ll be called out. I never give anyone a reason to challenge me. In gym, when we play games like basketball, I stay away from the backboards where all the elbows and knees are. I try to be where no one will pass me the ball. I survive.

I can do things that aren’t threatening, like running and calisthenics and even climbing things as long as no one minds if I don’t reach the top. No one seems to expect me to, which is good. I don’t only look weak. I am.

I think I’m pretty normal in other aspects of my age. I know about puberty for personal reasons, which isn’t a shock because we’ve had Sex Ed classes every year since they began in 6th grade, and now, in 8th, I know why my body’s doing all the strange things it’s doing; I know just what’s going on. For one thing, I have crushes like we’ve been told we’ll get. Boys and girls both. Well, I mean I get them on both, just like everyone, no matter what gender they are. I’m attracted to attractive people. I’m sure other boys mix the sexes with their crushes, too, but somehow, the few guys I talk to—more overhear them talking than actually talking to them—don’t mention their crushes. They must be embarrassed about them; maybe it makes them feel less masculine, having crushes. I have no way of knowing, but feeling masculine is a big deal for boys my age these days.

These guys, not really friends, more like guys I know, don’t talk about sex at all. Funny that, because boys in stories do that all the time. Not me, or not when I’m around. I don’t think this is unusual. Sex is too new to us, I guess; it’s sure new to me. We boys are still getting a handle on the feelings we’re having. But whatever the reason, if these guys aren’t bringing it up, neither am I.

My ‘friends’ are casual friends. Very casual. Eating-lunch-with friends. Sitting-next-to-in-class friends if it’s open seating. But not going-to-their-houses or having-sleepovers friends. Not that sort of thing. Casual as in you need to be able to hang with someone in school or you’ll be labeled a loser, and losers got picked on and sometimes challenged physically. So, as a matter of survival, boys like me tend to find someone, anyone, to hang with; that creates the right appearance.

Why don’t I have closer friends? It’s because we only moved here halfway through 7th grade. That’s a terrible time of life to move for many preteens or young teens, and in the middle of the school year it’s just that much worse. If you’re shy to boot, you have a terribly hard time fitting in. Trust me on that. It was the reason I’ve never made many friends here, and certainly no best one.

I could have done better had I been more outgoing. I wasn’t; I’m not. That’s all I can say. I’m not outgoing; I’m shy and timid, and, well, so goes the life of a lonely teen boy. I’ll repeat it: I’m a mess. I just have to hope the friendships that happen so magically with boys who are still growing up, that happen even at my age, will happen sooner or later for me. I think the law of average says it will. If not, well, some guys are lifetime bachelors; they may have been like me when they were my age. I want to be close to someone. Even as young as I am, I know that for sure. And I’d like it to start right now.

Thinking of girls is terrifying. Asking one out, for example. What would I talk to her about? I can’t even have a decent conversation with a boy, and I understand boys. Girls are a mystery and I’m no detective. I have the sneaking suspicion that mystery isn’t going to be solved anytime soon; maybe it never will be. I doubt I’ll ever understand girls, and I don’t feel I want to.

That thought is amplified by the fact I now pay a whole lot more attention to boys than girls at school. Boys are just more interesting and a darn bit more sexy. Girls can be cute or beautiful, especially the tomboyish ones. But they aren’t as sexy as boys. Boys are, well, wow! I have to be careful not to stare too long. It’s so easy to get mesmerized looking at a cute one, seeing and memorizing all his twitches and expressions and mannerisms. With the really cute ones, I even fantasize a bit. Think about them naked. That’s a major turn-on. But this is all a recent development. I didn’t feel this way a year ago. I sure do now.

But I am me, and while I’d love to approach one of those cute ones and chat him up, I can’t. So I stare and hope no one notices. As I am pretty unnoticeable, I’m getting away with it so far.

I’m looking for something to change. Being lonely isn’t good for my spirit. I want to make a friend. What I’d really like is to make a friend with a boy who’s like me. You know, sort of oversexed. Maybe I’m not oversexed. Maybe this is just what 13-year-old boys are like. I need to get lucky. I need to find someone like that.


We’d moved into a nice if older middle-class section of town. Back then, and still today I guess, medium-priced houses were built pretty close together. We don’t live in a mansion, and none of the houses in our part of town could be called that. We just have a nice house for the three of us. The houses on both sides of ours are much like ours, not cookie-cutter alike, but of the same general size and attractive appearance.

Our house has three bedrooms. The spare one we call the guest room, but we never have guests, so ‘spare’ would be a better label for that room. My mom doesn’t sew or do crafts or have a home office, all the things some women would use an extra room for. So that room just sits unused. It does have a bed in it. Maybe for the guest we never have.

Dad and Mom have a bathroom as an integral part of their master bedroom. There is a second bathroom upstairs off the long hall that connects all the bedrooms together; that second bathroom is the one I use.

I was about to get that lucky wish I was hoping for, and I didn’t have a clue it was coming. I take a shower every night. Better than in the morning as I stay in bed as long as I possibly can, and even the thought of getting wet in the morning just after getting out of bed gives me the heebie-jeebies. Just wake up, get out of bed half-asleep and then pour water over yourself? No, no, no! Showering is a nightly, before-bed operation.

So, on a night like all the others, after my shower, after opening the window to let the steam out, drying off, wrapping my towel around me so neither parents gets a glimpse of my pubertal advancement, unlocking the door, turning off the light and walking down the hall to my room, I remembered I’d forgotten to brush my teeth. Funny as it’s so automatic, but I’d been thinking about the math test we were having the next day, one I was sure I’d ace but still something I was thinking about, and brushing my teeth had slipped my mind. So, I returned to the bathroom.

When I walked in, I reached for the light switch, then stopped my hand. My dark bathroom’s ceiling was lit up, but the light was coming from outside. Curious, I stepped in, then went to the window. The light was coming from the house next to ours. Their bathroom was right across from mine. And like mine, the builders hadn’t bothered with pebbled glass. Cost-cutting at its finest.

We had curtains on our bathroom window, but we left them open most of the time. The only way someone could see into that room would be from that neighbor’s window or from down on the ground below. The street our house was on was hilly, and our house was uphill from our neighbors. It was only a few feet higher, but that was enough. If a neighbor wanted to see into our bathroom from theirs, they had to look up into our window; however, we could look down into theirs. From their house, all anyone could see of our bathroom was the upper half of the room, mostly just the ceiling. I never bothered with the curtains because I didn’t care if anyone saw my naked shoulders and higher; why care if you’re nude when no one can see the important parts? In fact, it gave me a little thrill, thinking about that. Thinking about them trying to imagine the parts they couldn’t see.

But I could and can see a whole lot more from my window into their house. I can see all the way to the floor in their bathroom. I can see their sink, their toilet, and about two-thirds of their shower stall, the part that contains the showerhead. Here’s where I get lucky: that night when my teeth still need brushing, I can see their shower is running, and in the stall, taking that shower, is a boy.

He was in the shower, being cascaded with water, and he was doing what boys our age often do in the shower. I was transfixed. I was watching something I’d never seen before. Well, I’d certainly experienced it. I was a very normal hormonal boy in that regard. But seeing someone else do it? Never before! Now I was seeing it. Lucky seems too insipid a word.

I didn’t know the boy who lived next door to me. I knew a boy lived there because my mom had spoken to his mom when we’d moved in, but he must have gone to a different school, maybe a private school, because he didn’t go to ours. Mom said he was my age, and you’d think I’d have met him, but I didn’t spend much time outside, and perhaps he didn’t either; our parents didn’t mingle at all. I had been here all last summer, the one after 7th grade and before 8th, but no one seemed to be at that house all summer long; I’d assumed they’d gone away for a vacation or to visit relatives or something. I knew they hadn’t moved because the stuff they had outside in the back yard was still there, and I saw their neighbor on the other side collecting their mail.

Seeing what the boy was doing, I was instantly as hard as I’d ever been. I never gave a thought to the fact I was doing something naughty by peeping at him. My hand moved on its own to hold onto myself through my towel. I saw him stroking himself, I saw him raise his head so his face was in the water briefly, then lower it and take a deep breath, and his hand moved faster. His face got a intense, pained look. Then I saw his whole body shake, after which his hand began moving much more slowly.

In the flood of water flowing over him and down his slick body, I couldn’t see the results of his orgasm, but the orgasm itself with his shaking and then grabbing the hand bar on the wall was pretty obvious. Graphic might be a better word. He stopped before long, but like I do, he remained hard afterward, even as he was shutting off the water and stepping out of the shower. He grabbed his towel, and that was when my luck flamed out. Big-time flame.

“Aaron! What are you doing?”

Oh my God! Panicsville! With a boner the size of Detroit, I only had a towel on, and my mom was right behind me! It was only luck that my back was to her! But then, it got worse.

How could it get worse? Easy. Mom turned on the light.

When she did, the boy, already facing his window, raised his head, and our eyes met.

Too many thoughts, all at once! Did she see where my hand was? Know what I was doing? What about him? What was he thinking? I just knew his eyes were as wide open as they ever could be, looking at me.

But I’d figure that out later. Mom first.

I couldn’t turn around. She’d see the state I was in. But if I didn’t turn, it would be weird, worse even; a dead giveaway I was hiding something, and wearing only a towel, there was only so much I could have to hide. Think! My head was a bag of sawdust, but it was do or die, and a thought did come. Survival syndrome, that’s what kicked in, and my brain came through.

“Turn off the light! Quick!”

The urgency in my voice must have gotten to her, because she actually did it.

“Darn,” I said, trying to sound upset. As I was upset, it wasn’t really acting, and I was able to bring it off. I continued to look out the window, never turning around, but I did twist my head away from the neighbor’s house. No reason not to. Once we’d made eye contact, the boy had fled, turning off his light while doing so. With our light off now, and his, too, everything was dark. Not pitch, but dark.

Mom was next to me by now, and I made room for her to look out the window, too. “I was sure I saw a coyote out there in the neighbor’s back yard. When you turned the light on, it jumped like a jackrabbit, and now it’s gone. Darn! It was really cool. You could see it wasn‘t a dog. It just looked . . . feral.”

Okay, so I was babbling. Well, get anyone in that situation and see if they don’t babble, too! I was proud of myself.

But I was cool by then, too, anatomically speaking. I turned and left the bathroom, still toweled. Mom was still looking out the window. But even having prevailed with my modesty intact, I was still anxious. About the boy. What would he do? Would he tell his parents?

Well, no, not very likely. He wasn’t about to tell them what had happened: ‘Hey Mom, Dad. I was jerking off, see, and the boy next door was watching me. I was just showering, and, you know, what I said, and he saw me, and watched! He’s some kind of a pervert. You should do something about this. Contact Neighborhood Watch, maybe!’

No, I couldn’t imagine that. In the first place, it would be pretty lame of him, and in the second, of course I’d watch him if I had the opportunity. What boy my age wouldn’t? And in the third, he’d be inviting a lecture about closing the curtains in his bathroom, and no self-respecting boy wants to invite a lecture about anything.

So I didn’t have to worry about that. It left only one problem: what if he confronted me?

I gave that more serious thought because, being who I was and my timorous nature—I don’t want to have to write about that again—being confronted would be a big deal. But the more I thought about it, the more I calmed down. I’d seen him. Yeah, I’d been concentrating on one small part of him, but I had seen him. He was built very much like I was. Small, slender, un-muscled. And to me, hot as hell. Well, doing what he was doing made him hot as hell, but I had the impression he was like that anyways. Hot, I mean. I didn’t think he’d be a brawler. He looked cute. Not that I’d spent that much time looking at his face, but face, body, other parts, hey, the whole of him was cute! So, all in all, I’d probably be okay if we came face to face with each other. I didn’t think he’d take a swing at me I’d just have some apologizing to do, I imagined: “Sorry about me seeing you jacking off. But you looked fine. Nice dick, by the way!” No, that wouldn’t be good. It might be tricky, knowing what to say. I’d have to work on that. Good thing to have it figured out before I needed it.

Whew! The whole episode had been spectacular, the view, then my escape. Aaron the fast thinker! And out of all the excitement, I then had a vision to fall asleep with that night—an exciting vision, to be sure. Somewhere during the envisioning I was doing, though, I was getting an urge. No, not that one! Different entirely, but strong: I wanted to meet the boy next door.

I couldn’t just go knock on his door. I know, that’s what a brave boy would do. A boy full of himself. I was neither. So I had to plan something else.

First step was surveillance. I had to know what I was dealing with and think it through. For instance, I certainly didn’t want to confront him in a crowd. One on one; that’d be the only way to fly and land safely, and even that was scary. But with other people around, like other boys, or, heaven forbid, his parents? No way. Un-uh. Not me.

So, surveillance. Check out the ground we’d be playing on. Look for potholes or thorn bushes.

I began checking out the movements in that house. When did his parents leave every day; when did they return? I never did get to see him coming and leaving, but I saw them. Well, I guess I did see him coming . . .

Okay, enough of that. This is serious business here, and I’m not going to parse my words just so you won’t go bananas with everything I say. Coming and going: it’s just a simple, oft-used phrase, and if you’re not mature enough to be reading this, then go do something else.

See! There you go again. ‘Something else’ doesn’t mean that. Jeez!

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Surveillance.

It was odd I never got to see him. I did see his parents. Uh, I just said that. Anyway, I made an Excel chart showing the day of the week and when each parent left and returned. As it almost always was the same time each day when they did those things, I really didn’t need the computer to keep score, but I liked honing my computer skills, and it made what I was doing seem more scientific.

They left before me in the morning, and they came home after I was home from school each day. That was Monday through Friday. It was fairly clear that they both worked, because that explained their weekly movements.

Now look, I know, this is the second time I’ve spoken of movements (and that I could have repeated ‘their comings and goings’ instead of their movements), and I am also an aware I said that I could see the toilet upstairs, but that isn’t what I meant by movements at all, and you know it! Besides, those curtains are always closed now.

On the weekends, their mo—(scratch that!) their comings—(damn! scratch that, too) their schedules weren’t nearly so inflexible. On a Saturday I’d see the man drive off between seven and eight in the morning, sometimes, and return twenty minutes later with a pink box that looked suspiciously like it contained donuts. Sometimes he’d leave carrying golf clubs and get in a car that was idling at the curb in front of their house. There was no apparent rhyme or reason to his weekend activities. Nothing to count on. That meant I didn’t even have to worry about the woman. If his activities couldn’t be pegged down, it didn’t matter whether hers could be. It simply meant that if I was going to meet shower boy, it should be during the week.

But where was he during the week? I never saw him leave and, maybe because he never did, I also never saw him return. I never saw him at all. I could only think of a few reasons that would be. Maybe he stayed at a boarding school during the week. When I caught him showering, it had been a Saturday night. Maybe he wasn’t there during the weekdays. Maybe he showered at that school. With other boys, and maybe they . . .

Hey, I’m 13. I have thoughts. Jeez. So I’m not as mature as I will be, and this stuff is in my head and refuses to leave. Well, bite me!

Back to this. What made the most sense was that I didn’t see him because he didn’t go out. Why not? Well, that led to a lot of conjecture. Maybe he was feeble or had a horrible deformity or there was some reason he couldn’t be seen in public. But that didn’t make any sense. I’d seen him. All of him. And there’d been nothing physically apparently wrong with him. There’d been a whole lot that was right and nothing that was wrong. So some problem that was keeping him in seemed unlikely.

Maybe a tutor came in, or he was getting his schooling on computers with or without a tutor. That seemed a more reasonable thought. If there was a tutor, maybe he or she only came after I left for school and was gone before I returned. If so, I could easily never be aware of it. But, maybe that wasn’t important.

The reason? If there was a tutor and I knocked on the door, in my mind it would be a man, and he might answer rather than shower boy, and I didn’t want to explain myself to a tutor. I often got sort of tongue-tied trying to speak to strange men, and if he was looking down at me, maybe tapping his foot because I’d interrupted something, then . . . no, I didn’t like that scenario at all. But again, so what? All I’d have to do would be to say, “Sorry. Wrong house.” Or maybe, “Have you seen my dog? I’ve lost my dog. You seen it?”

Or I could just run away, although running away with my tail between my legs wasn’t the picture I wanted to paint for shower boy.

I did like the idea of home schooling on the computer for him, though. Why? Because that set me up for asking about that. Why not regular school? There could be multiple reasons for that. But he’d answer, and I’d be sympathetic, or angry if anger was called for, and we could go from there.

I decided he was probably being home schooled on the computer. That he was smart enough to pull that off without anyone looking over his shoulder. I liked that because I liked thinking he was smart. Also, if that were true, it probably meant he was lonely. Well, guess who else could make that claim? Yeah: moi!

I had to figure out a reason I’d be knocking on his door. Traveling salesman? No. He’d seen me in the window, seen me shirtless, and traveling salesmen rarely showered at a customer’s house when plying their trade. Or were 13, I guessed.

That my ball had ended up in his backyard, and could I come get it? No and no. I didn’t want him thinking I was a jock who played with a ball in my backyard, and as I’d never seen him out, I would think it would be the same with him. He may have seen me going and coming from school, but otherwise, I wasn’t out much and never in the backyard with any sort of ball. That one wouldn’t hold water.

I’d lost my dog and had he seen it? It would have to be a barkless dog. There are a few of those. The Basenji is the most common in this country. But it comes from Africa, has the same genes as the wolf, can run 30 mph and likes to hunt cats and smaller dogs, so if shower boy knows anything about dogs, especially ones that didn’t bark, he’d decide it was unlikely I’d ever been to Africa, and if he knew anything about me, he’d know I wasn’t the sort of person who’d own a dog that behaved like a wolf, ate neighborhood cats and carried the nickname ‘pariah dog’. So that wouldn’t work.

I thought about getting a white cane, knocking on his door and telling him I was blind and could he help me find something I’d misplaced. A Braille copy of Playgirl? I did like the idea of where that could lead us, but it was the sort of plan that was better to think about than to do, so I discarded it.

I could of course just be honest and apologize for gawking at his nudity. But that might embarrass him, and he might slam the door in my face, and I didn’t want to risk that. Besides, I’d also be embarrassed, and young boys don’t handle embarrassment well. I was a young boy. Put the pieces together—QED. Nope, not that. Honesty is the best policy only in very few situations when you’re 13.

And if I told him the truth, he might ask me if I was a pervert, and how could I answer that? No, I’d have to come up with something a lot more clever than the truth. Truth is overrated, and isn’t it about the same thing as honesty, which I’d already dismissed?

I had to think long and hard about this getting-to-meet-him deal. It wasn’t till the next day that I came up with a perfect plan. It was bold, rash, unprecedented, and, well, while it was scary, it did seem foolproof to me. Scared me to death, if you want the truth, but you only live once, so they tell me. Yeah, I’m anything but bold and rash, but if I was to go down in flames, only me and shower boy would know, and it was worth the risk. No animals would be hurt in the evolution of this plan. Only one small boy.

I thought I’d wait till Friday to put my plan into action. It was the end of the week, and if things worked out the best they possibly could and we were suddenly best friends, we could have a sleepover as there’d be no school the next day. Was that getting way ahead of myself? Yeah, but isn’t that what immaturity and dreaming is all about?

I really did want this to work.

I had to skip school, but the upcoming Friday was going to be a half-day, and a lot of kids were planning to ditch the three morning classes. There were three half-days each semester for teacher in-school training, and a lot of kids skipped those days. It had become a thing at our school, and no one got in trouble for it. I guess the powers-that-were didn’t want to deal with sixty or seventy kids in detention. Logically, a teacher could only handle about twenty detention kids, which was asking a lot as detention kids could be unruly. But the school wasn’t budgeted for more than one detention group an afternoon. Three or four would bust the budget. So no one got flagged for those skips.

I could of course wait till Friday afternoon, but I thought it possible that a parent might come home early on a Friday; Friday morning was best. I did not want to face a parent. I might have been able to talk myself into doing this, but not into anything that might get me in the sort of trouble that meeting a pissy parent might bring. I was still me.

But they always say: no pain, no gain. Gulp.


I knock rapidly on his door, yelling, “Help, help, help!” and praying that a stern-faced tutor won’t open it. If shower boy is there alone, how can he not answer? Foolproof, except for the tutor, and I’d watched and hadn’t seen one come. Uh, show up!

I keep pounding and shouting for help till I hear the door being opened. It’s shower boy! I’ve done it. Aaron the Clever!

Now for the rest of it. “I need your help,” I say, breathless from all the yelling and overflowing with self-pity.

“Why are you undressed?” he asks, ignoring the pity. He isn’t breathless at all; he’s just standing there looking at me like I’m the neighborhood crazy person.

“Later,” I say. “First, I need help.” So saying, I turn around so he can see the blood. “I can’t reach this to fix it. I need someone to do it for me. This time of day, you were the only one I could think of.”

“What’s wrong with your back? You’re bleeding.”

“Yeah, I know. Less talk, more action. Can you fix it? I don’t think it’s too bad. Just blot it, maybe throw some antiseptic on it and a bandage.”

He grimaces, frowns, and says, “Maybe you should come in. You’re flashing the neighborhood.”

“Am not! I put my underwear on before coming here.” I had. Actually, I’d never taken them off, but he doesn’t need to know that. But, to get him moving instead of asking questions, I add, “Owwww!” More with the pity.

He rolls his eyes. He does! Then he steps away from the door, and I follow him in.

“Probably upstairs in my bathroom is best. As you’re familiar with it, you should be more relaxed there than in our operating theater.”

I ignore his sardonic wit and say, “Operating theater?”

“That was a joke,” he says, never breaking even the hint of a smile. “Ignore it. There is no operating theater here. None at all. We do all our medical experiments in the dining room on a plastic sheet. Sometimes, I feel a little queasy eating on that table, remembering the eviscerations and all that have been performed there.”

I ignore the absurdity. What I assume is absurdity. “Well, stop joking. I’m bleeding to death here. I’m small and need all the blood I have inside me.”

“Follow me,” he says, and starts climbing the stairs to the second floor.

I take the time to glance at what I can see of the house. The rooms are about the same size as those in our house. The layout is a little different, but not much. The stairs are carpeted, and I’m right behind him on the way up.

He lowers the lid on the toilet and has me sit on it sideways so my front is toward the large part of the room. This puts my back facing the window and into the light coming through it. He moves behind me and looks at my wound for a moment, then says, “If you’re going to die from this, you must have been anemic to begin with. It’s mostly stopped bleeding by now and wasn’t much worse than a scratch to begin with. What did you do?”

I have my story all worked out and rehearsed. I try to put a whine in my voice, though he seems immune to pity or even empathy. If you’re in severe pain, it’s okay to whine, expected even, no matter how masculine you are. You have to moderate it, though, especially as you’re pretending to be a brave soul.

“I skipped school today and decided to take a bath,” I explain. “I never take baths, so I thought it would be neat to do it. I filled the tub, then got undressed and stepped into the water. Except I slipped and my back got lacerated on the sharp end of the tub’s spout. It was bleeding, gushing, really, and I couldn’t stop it, located where it is. While I was getting dizzy from blood loss, I managed to throw my underwear back on, fighting all the pain, because I couldn’t run outside naked. Modesty in the face of tragedy. I’m so glad you were here to fix this. I’d have bled to death otherwise. You’ve saved my life.”

He blots my wound. Then he says, “This may sting,” and before I can even prepare myself, I feel a shock to my system. It’s as though someone had lashed my back with a whip.

“Yeoowww!” I yell.

“Yeah, that,” he says, no emotion leaking out at all, and I turn to look at him. He’s smirking!

“You’re smirking!” I say. Loudly. Accusingly.

“Bleeding to death?” he scoffs.

I decide right then and there: I really like this kid. We are going to be friends. Maybe even besties. He has the perfect personality to match mine: sarcastic and full of humor, but all kept understated. Well, not the sarcasm so much. But sarcasm can be nasty, full of venom, or it can be more of a humor-filled thing, eye-rolling thing. His is like that. At least I’m choosing to read it that way.

“Well, I couldn’t tell,” I reply. “I just saw all the blood. Lots and lots of blood. And I was light-headed.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you left a red trail from your house to mine.”

See? Like that. “You know, you don’t seem very sympathetic,” I remonstrate. “If you came to me on death’s doorstep, I’d be much more caring, show a lot more consideration and concern.”

“Hah. Like I’d need to do that. I’m not clumsy enough to slip in the bathtub!”

“How would you know,” I shoot back, trying to match his tone. “You don’t take baths!”

Oops. As soon as I say it, I feel like biting my tongue. I know how important it is to engage my brain before flapping my lips. I sure didn’t do that this time!

The look he gives me! Suddenly all the sarcastic witticisms are gone. I can see in his eyes that he’s remembering. Then he turns his back to me so I can’t see his feelings at all.

I’ve been having more fun talking to him than I can remember ever having with anyone. I’ve ruined it! He’s embarrassed now, and I know how I feel when I’m embarrassed. This has to be heavy for him. Maybe I can just change the subject.

But no, on reflection I see that’s the wrong way to approach this. He’s been speaking honestly to me. A little sarcastically, a little confrontationally, perhaps disparagingly, but with dry humor, and he’s been saying what he means. Getting something off his chest, maybe. But doing it in a way that just a taste of humor comes with it. I need to do that same thing.

The pause continues until I say, “What’s your name, anyway? Mine’s Aaron.”


“Great name! Anyway, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that; it was mean, and I was only trying to respond to what you were saying in the manner you were using. You weren’t being mean, though, and I didn’t mean to be. Mean, I mean.”

He doesn’t respond, doesn’t even seem to smile or wince, and doesn’t turn back around.

“And I shouldn’t have watched you,” I continue, starting to feel desperate. I’ve just found him and now am losing him. “I should have left as soon as I saw you in the shower. I didn’t. I had to watch. You’re about my age. Sex stuff must be as compelling for you as it is for me. I couldn’t look away. But I’m sorry. I hope you can forgive me.”

He still just stands there. I stay silent, waiting. It’s his turn, and if I say anything more, it would be maudlin babbling.

So I wait.

When he does speak, it’s in a softer voice with no sarcasm at all and with his back still towards me. “You saw it all?”

“Yes. But you know what? You have nothing to be embarrassed about. I do that, too. We all do! And you seemed, uh . . . look, I think you’re embarrassed, and you don’t need to be, and what I’m going to say will almost certainly embarrass me more than you. But I need to say it. I guess I need to be embarrassed, too, to get us back to even again, to where we were.”

I take a deep breath, not ever imagining when I conceived my plan to get to see him that I’d be saying anything like this. “I watched you, and I thought you were beautiful. As beautiful as anything I’d ever seen. I got hard just watching you. You were amazing.”

He doesn’t respond, and I’m left sitting there looking at his back, wondering what to do next. Finally, he turns back so I can see his face.

“Let’s finish with your back,” he says, no color in his voice at all.

I’m still sitting where I’ve been with my back to him. He comes back over behind me and touches my back near the cut, then says, “It’s barely more than a scratch, but you seem to think it’s a gaping wound. That being the case, you won’t be satisfied just covering it. So, wait a second. I’ll go get my mom’s sewing stuff. I’ll sew it shut for you. I don’t have any analgesic, but I know how to handle the pain. I have a washcloth I can roll up and you can bite on that as I’m piercing your skin over and over and over again, slowly working the needle and then the thread through.”

He says all that with no emotion at all. He has to be kidding. But man, is he good at it! I think he’s back the way he was before. I think all’s forgiven!

“Uh, my thought is, as you said it’s stopped gushing blood, maybe we should just try Band-Aids. I don’t want you to hurt your thumb pushing that needle through my tough skin. What’s your opinion?”

“I was looking forward to using the needle!”

“No, that needle might get my horrible wound infected. Better to take our chances just covering it up.”


“Well, we are in this together, and I don’t know how good your malpractice insurance is.”

He ignores that, acts as if I hadn’t even spoken. “You sure? I mean, if it becomes infected and they have to amputate your back, don’t blame me. Remember, I recommended the needle.”

“I’ll take that under advisement and risk it.”

“Okay,” he says. “By the way, I’m not buying the bathtub story. Just for the record. But, regardless, I need to dress this tiny scratch. Even a scratch can get infected if not protected. What I need is a gauze pad and some adhesive tape, but we don’t have either of those. What I’d like to do is place some gauze, a tiny strip of gauze, over the suggestion of a scratch, then wrap layers and layers of adhesive tape around your body, you know, across your back, your side, your stomach, your other side and then back across the gauze. I don’t know, eight or nine passes. But I don’t have the right materials. That’s too bad because the more supplies docs use, the more they can bill. I’ll just use a bunch of Band-Aids. Probably six or seven as I have to stick them across, perpendicular to the, uh, wound.”

He snickers when he says that and way overstresses the word ‘wound’, and I feel more than a flicker of hope. He definitely is getting his spirit back.

He gets a box of Band-Aids from the cabinet over the sink and starts tearing the coverings off several of them. When he has what seems to be enough, he tells me to twist back around. I do.

He touches my back, then slides his finger very softly from the top to the bottom on both sides. Up and down. Lingeringly. I involuntarily shiver. I hear him chuckle very softly. Diabolically. I probably wasn’t meant to hear it.

“Just checking this is all dry so these will stick.”

Then he does it again, the gentle rubbing of his finger up and down my bare skin. My sensitive skin. Hmmm.

He sticks on the first Band-Aid, pressing the sticky part lightly onto my skin but making sure it is fast. He starts at the top of the wound. The next one he sticks just below. Again, he rubs it more than is necessary, but lightly, almost, well, sensually. Then he runs his finger down along the side of the cut to the bottom and up the other side like he did before. Very lightly again. I shiver again. And I do more than that.

I’m only wearing my tighty-whities, and to some degree, I have felt very exposed since being here. He is running his finger over my bare back. And it is being done gently and lightly; it feels very personal; another word comes to me: erotically. Not only does that light touch cause me to briefly spasm into a shiver, it causes some interest down below. Too much interest.

He starts humming. Then he starts expanding the area he is lightly touching, going lower than he needs to go to tend to the wound. Almost down to the elastic on my undies.

My problem down under is getting worse. What can I do? Brain, don’t desert me now! But it does. Aaron the Not-So-Clever! My mind is on a different wavelength than I want it to be and is not communicating with my wish system. The only thing in my head is how hard I’m getting, and that he’s bound to see it, probably sooner rather than later. I’m also hoping he doesn’t stop. Is this what is meant by conflicting emotions?

But getting hard? No. No, no, no. That’s wrong! He has to stop or he’ll see. And I really don’t want him to. Or do I? I’m so fucked up!

I suddenly realize what he is humming. It’s Some Day My Prince Will Come.

That does it. I am suddenly as hard as kryptonite. He’s been kneeling on the floor so he’d be the same level as my back. Now, he stands up and peers over my shoulder. I twist my head to see his face. His eyes are like saucers, alive and bright, and his grin is almost too large for his face. He knew what he was doing, and is checking to see how successful he’s been.

I don’t say a word. What can I say? Embarrassed much? More than he could ever be, that’s for sure.

He isn’t dumbstruck like I am. “Okay,” he says, “I like what we have here, but this doesn’t make us even. You saw me without anything on. Take off the underpants and we’ll be closer to even.”

“My underpants? You’ve got to be kidding. I’m hard!”

“Yep. So was I. You saw me!”

Well, shit. But then, actually, where’s the harm? I want this boy to be my friend, and I have seen him, and he has a point: this is just fair play. If I want some bonding with him, this is certainly a start to that. So, blushing and trying not to fidget, aware the setting is much different than when I saw him, even if it is the same venue, I do it.

His eyes couldn’t get any bigger. Just looking at me unpantsed has them maxed out. He stares at me, and I’m glad I’d leaked some blood. I think my face would explode if I’d still had my full complement.

We are silent, him staring, me blushing, for way too long—maybe fifteen seconds. Seems like forever. Then I quickly yank my undies back up the best I can, having the problem other boys who were in my state have had for eons doing that, finally tucking myself up under that elastic I mentioned earlier.

“Now can we talk?” I ask, trying not to sound wounded.

“In a minute. I have to let my blood pressure ease up a bit, then finish with your dressing.”

I glance at his crotch, but his trousers are baggy enough that nothing’s obvious. Still, I have to guess that that’s what he’s referring to.

Are we experiencing some of that bonding, I wonder. Maybe. I don’t know.

He smiles for the first time when he gets ready to stick on the rest of the Band-Aids, which he does less sensuously this time, and then he says, “All done. How’d you do this, anyway?” He gently taps my back.

“What makes you think I did it on purpose?”

“Oh, come on. I’ve thought a lot about you seeing me since it happened. I knew how I felt; I wondered how you felt and how you’d react. Imagined how I’d have felt with the tables turned. And you know my strongest feeling? Putting myself in your place, I realized that I’d need to talk to you.”

I wanted to speak, but he wasn’t done.

“But I know how that would have confounded me. I’d have been too embarrassed to just come over and knock on the door. Some boys, the brave ones, would have done that. I’m not brave; I guess you’re not, either. You sure took your time! But I felt sure you’d be thinking about coming over and wondering how you could. I never thought you’d be so eager as to stab yourself in the back. You really wanted to talk! You found a way where I couldn’t shut the door on you. So, how’d you do it?”

While he is talking, I’ve been studying him. I haven’t had a chance to do that very thoroughly before. He’s my size and, I’m pretty sure, my age, give or take a few months either way. He isn’t one of the too cute ones like some of those at school that I can’t stare at too long, afraid of getting caught. He is best described as being good-looking-normal. Like me, I think. I’m not cute, either. But not ugly. I don’t shudder when looking at myself in the mirror. Maybe I’ve just gotten accustomed to the sight. But I think I’m just normal; normal-plus. Like most boys.

But he isn’t normal in all aspects. He is smarter than normal. I can tell that easily from his eyes and the way he talks. I like that. It makes him more like me, and I want him to be more like me. His brown eyes and brown hair look fine to me. I hope my appearance appeals to him, too. I’m darker than he is, but only by a small bit. Italian heritage. Black hair, dark eyes. Normal. Maybe my eyes are as bright as his. I’m not sure. I really like his eyes. I love the way he talks, too.

I feel very aware that I am almost naked. But I kinda like it, too. I like the way his eyes keep dropping to my middle and then quickly away again. I like it that he wants to look.

“I used to build models when I was younger,” I say, answering his question. “I had an X-Acto knife. I got really brave. Or maybe really desperate; I did what you said: looked for ways to come over here. The only one I came up with that was sure to get you to let me in was this. I used the X-Acto knife. It was scary but didn’t hurt much. I just wanted a little blood, and I got that. The knife is very sharp. It was a smaller deal than I thought.”

I wonder if he’ll now tease me because I’ve admitted I was so eager to talk to him. I used the word desperate. But he doesn’t. I like that, too.

“Let’s go to my room,” he says and leads the way.


I’m not sure what I expected, meeting Liam. I just hoped for the possibility of making a friend, one who lived nearby and I could spend time with. What I’ve found in the few minutes I’ve known him is much more than what I’d hoped for. He is funny and smart and engaging. And I have the sense—you call tell these things—that he likes me, too.

His room is much like mine, except with more stuff. Better computer, more bookcases and more books, more stuff on the walls. It’s not rock stars and athletes, though, on those walls. It’s interesting artwork, much of it modern, but I like it right off the bat. I also realize about as quickly as it’s possible to notice something is missing that there aren’t any females on his walls. Nary a one. Not on mine, either.

He has a double bed, and it is made; there are no clothes on the floor, either. My room is a mess. Mom doesn’t touch it. She says if I want to live in squalor, to go right ahead; it’s no skin off her nose. She does insist I keep the door closed so no guests can see in nor see the vermin which most likely are living there with me; she doesn’t want them getting out, either.

His room has wall-to-wall carpeting which has to be nicer to walk on getting out of bed than the hard, cold vinyl tile I have. I get the impression right off that Liam’s family is better off financially than mine.

Maybe they are rich enough to have the tutor I was wondering about. Maybe he just doesn’t come every day, and one of those days is Friday.

“I’ve got questions,” I say, sitting down on the chair by his computer desk. Crossing my legs. He’s seen everything I have, but still, I’m feeling modest. I’m in his room hardly dressed at all, and I barely know him. He sits on the edge of the bed and smiles. “I guessed,” he says.

“You guessed? You thought I’d have questions? Why?”

“Because you didn’t slice your back open just for the fun of it. You wanted to meet me. I think you want to know why you’ve never seen me outside. Probably other things, too. If you’re nosy enough to watch me, uh, you know, you probably are curious about a lot of things.”

“Wait a sec. We have that Peeping Tom stuff all settled. We don’t need to bring it up all the time. If you do, I’ll end up asking you what you’d have done if you’d seen me doing that. Like, would you have turned away? I don’t think so!”

He grins at me, transforming his face from normal to wow! How does a grin do that? I’ve seen it before on other kids. Maybe I should try to smile more.

“No way I’d have turned away,” he admits. “But facts are facts, and what I might have done is way down the scoreboard from what you did do. And until I see you jacking off, I still have the upper hand here.”

“I didn’t see you having an upper and lower hand. Now me, for instance, two hands are hardly enough to grip the whole thing!”

He laughs, which is what I wanted him to do. Then he asks, “So I’m not going to be able to shame you—wait, that’s too strong—to inveigle you into showing me, uh, what you saw.”

“I think we’re going to be good friends, and if at some future point, well, who knows what good friends our age might get up to? And who’ll have the upper hand.”

“I like the way you think, Aaron. Now, what about those questions?”

“I guess my biggest one is, why don’t I ever see you? I guessed you went to a private school or had a tutor come in or you worked entirely on your computer. But that’s only some of whatever the reason is, because there’s more to life at our age than school. There are social activities. And you have to go out to see other people. And as far as I can tell, you never do. So yeah, I want to ask that, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings at all. I do hope we can be friends.”

“Okay. That’s two questions, really. One, about school, and two, about being a recluse. Well, I guess you and I should be past the point of embarrassment with each other, but there’s embarrassment over sex things, and there’s other kinds of embarrassment, too. Embarrassment about who and how we are. I’ll have to embarrass myself talking about that.

“But I like what I see of you, and I’ve seen a lot.”

He laughs, and I try not to cringe. Imagining what he’s talking about, I even feel Mr. Happy getting interested again. Damn!

“So I’m going to tell you,” he continues. “I think you can hear it and not walk away. I hope so, at least.

“We moved here only a month before you did. So I was in the same boat you were: a little shy, knowing no one, and, well, I’ll come to that. I entered school in the middle of the term.

“Seventh grade kids tend to be squirrely. The boys are beginning to feel macho, the girls competitive. They don’t yet know how to handle themselves civilly and promote those feelings at the same time. What happens is the boys get aggressively combative and the girls sexually brazen. You know this; you lived through it, too.”

“Not very successfully,” I say, another time I talk without thinking first. But he doesn’t remark on it. He just nods and goes on.

“It was hard for me. I’m, well, I can’t tell you this without admitting it, so, here goes. I’m not brave. I hate physical confrontations. I’m . . . I’m scared of them. And it’s bad. I almost go into shock. I try to avoid anything that’ll lead to someone confronting me, but you can’t always do that, especially in an environment full of hormonal boys who want the opportunity to show how macho they are.”

He stops, his emotions getting the better of him. I don’t know if I should, but I do it anyway. I get up from the chair and go sit on the bed next to him. I put a hand on his shoulder. I say, “Me, too.”

That makes him sort of sit up straighter. Jerks up, actually. “For true?”

 “For true. Aaron the Coward. Aaron the Loser. C’est moi. I get so scared if someone faces me down, I’m afraid I’ll wet my pants. It’s that bad. I do everything I can to avoid it.”

He stares at me, and his eyes are full of questions and feelings. I don’t try to read them. There’s too much there. He doesn’t speak for a time, just looks at me. Finally, he says, “I thought I was the only one.”

“No, I’m exactly the same.”

“But you still go to school!”

“It’s really hard, and I need coping mechanisms. Is that why you don’t?”

“Yeah. My dad wanted me to, but I couldn’t keep going. There was this one kid there, Doug Fannon, who decided he was going to hurt me. What happened was, he bumped into me once in the halls, and it was just the way it happened, the physics of it, but he was the one who ended up on the floor and I was still standing, though my heart was racing. I was starting to see flashes of light. That’s how I get before it gets worse.

“He jumped up and shoved me and I stumbled a few steps back. He’s much bigger and stronger than I am. Then a teacher was there, and that ended it. Except he yelled that he’d find me and beat the shit out of me. He got detention for that and blamed me for that, too. He left a note in my locker. How he knew which one was mine, I don’t know, but it scared me even worse. It meant he knew who I was and where to find me after school. The note said he was going to destroy me, bloody me, leave me twitching on the ground, and everyone would be watching.”

He stops, and I wait. Speaking now would be wrong. I know he’ll want to finish as soon as he can.

“I told my dad, and I said that I just couldn’t go back to school. If he forced me, I’d run away. I showed him the note.

“He took the note to the principal, who told him he couldn’t do anything about a threat that was unsigned. He’d do something if a fight happened, but until then, his hands were tied.

“So dad signed me up for a home-schooling computer course. There are a lot of them that are state-approved. That’s what I do all day. Take my lessons through the computer. I’m lucky. I’m fairly smart, and I think I’m getting more from the computer course than I’d be getting going to school.”

“I know you’re smart,” I agree. “The way you talk, the way you use words, you sound like you’re in college. I like that. Well, I like everything I know about you.” I squeeze his shoulder, which I’m still touching.

“You do? You don’t care that I’m a coward?”

“I’m one, too. Probably just as bad, not just almost. If that kid had done that to me, I’m sure I’d have wet myself, and with other kids seeing that and laughing, I’ve have had to jump off a bridge. I know who you’re talking about. Doug is the worst bully in school. I avoid him like the plague.”

He doesn’t reply, just keeps looking at me. I have to say something else to defuse the moment. “Is this why you don’t go out; you’re afraid you’ll run into Doug Fannon?”

He nods. “I told you. I’m really bad.”

“You know what I think? I think people like us who are afraid of fights and bullies and all, I think we just have more active imaginations than other kids. We imagine the consequences, and they’re more real to us. Some kids seem entirely unaware of consequences.”

“That might be so. I do have a big imagination. I’m by myself all the time, and I use some of that to write stories. You have to have an imagination to do that, I guess.”

He is still looking into my eyes, and he moves his hand. Mine is still on his shoulder. He moves his and lays it on my upper leg. My unclothed upper leg. Mr. Happy springs to life.

Liam looks down, sees that, and giggles.

“Are you gay?” he asks, his voice different, breathy. I check him. He’s hard, too. I can tell even with the baggy pants he’s wearing.

“I don’t know,” I tell him. “But I sure think about sex a lot.”

The fact I haven’t scooted away from him must be encouraging. He moves his hand higher on my leg.

“Are you?” I squeak.

“I think so. I’m all by myself. With a computer. And none of the sites are blocked. I like the ones featuring boys the most.”

“I look at boys, too. Live ones. Those sites are blocked on my computer. Dad says they’ll give me an entirely distorted view of sex. He says sex just for sex’s sake feels good, but is shallow and misleading. He says sex with someone you care about is special. I, uh, I haven’t known you for more than an hour, but I know this is true: I care about you, Liam.”

I move my hand from his shoulder to his leg. His isn’t bare, but he still sort of jumps a little, then ends up sitting closer to me, our legs now touching.

“Doesn’t seem fair,” I say, “one of us basically naked, one clothed.”

No hesitation. He stands up and strips. Everything except what I have on.

It doesn’t take much longer before we’re both similarly unclothed in the entirely. Neither of us has any experience with another person. We learn how together. There’s no question that when I leave his house, it’s fair to say we’ve bonded. I’ve so hoped for this, and it’s come true.


I now have a friend, someone to talk to. Someone to bounce things off. Someone that makes me feel whole. The sex things we do are wonderful, but just having someone my age in my life transforms me. I felt like just a loser. I don’t feel that way any longer. I’m not Aaron the Cowardly Loser. I’m Aaron with a boyfriend. Aaron who can hold his head high walking around school and outside school. Aaron the normal 13 year old.

Oh, I’m still afraid of things that anyone with an ounce of sense should be afraid of. But it’s no longer crippling me.

Having a boyfriend was as significant for him as it was for me.

It seems likely that some of our timidity came from a lack of self-confidence. And if another person, the one you love, loves you back, one thing that does is increase the confidence you have about a hundredfold. You must be worth something if a boy as special as the one you love loves you back. You don’t have to hang your head meeting someone new. They’ll look you in the eye and say hello, and you can look them in the eye right back, because you know someone loves you, and that makes you something; there’s substance in you, you’re not no one, you’re someone, and meeting their eyes tells them that.

It takes a lot of work, but I get Liam to go outside. We stay close to home but go to a nearby park, go to local stores, I even get him to go to the movies with me, which is farther from home. He’s nervous, he keeps looking around him, but I am right next to him, our upper arms brushing each other as we walk, our hanging hands touching briefly, and we are together outside. A minor miracle, but a miracle of growth.

We’ve been doing this for about a month. This isn’t the first time we’re in the park. Liam is actually less nervous, more relaxed, every time. It’s mid-afternoon on a Saturday. The kids who came for morning games are all gone, and only a few people are around, twos and threes, mostly. I tell Liam I have to use the restroom, that I’ll be back in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. I leave him in an area of trees. The restroom building is just a short walk away.

I take care of business and hurry back. I know he is more comfortable when I’m with him. It shows how far he’s come that he didn’t follow me when I walked away. He stayed to watch a woodpecker busily bouncing its head off the tree we were standing by.

When I get back, I about freak out. Doug Fannon is there, and Liam is backed against a tree.

Doug’s right hand is in a fist, and his left is holding Liam against the tree. Doug’s face is red, and he is saying something.

I scream. Really truly scream. And I run. I run at Doug as fast as I can. I’m not that far away. My scream doesn’t stop the fist from swinging. Doug looks at me but swings anyway.

Liam sees the fist coming and jerks his head to the side. The fist hits the tree, and the tree wins. I’m not the only one screaming then. Doug joins me. But his scream doesn’t stop me at all. I am on him, and both my fists are flying.

I have no idea how to fight, how to set up properly. What stance to take, how to maximize my blows. It doesn’t matter. This fucking freak was going to hurt my boyfriend, and I am going to stop him. Forever, I hope. I swing and hit his face and then his body and then his face again. I follow him down as he hits the ground under my attack, and I keep swinging. He isn’t fighting back. He is half sprawled on the ground, and I am hitting him with every ounce of strength I have.

Liam pulls me off. I don’t realize till then that I’m crying. Liam holds me, and I sob. Doug isn’t moving. If he had, I’d go after him again. But he doesn’t.

Liam has his phone, and he calls 9-1-1. He tells them he thinks there was a fight in the park, that he thinks someone’s lying there by a tree, maybe hurt, and maybe an ambulance should come. Then he disconnects.

He turns to me. “Aaron the Astonishing,” he says. I don’t say anything.

We walk back to his house. I don’t know what to feel. Mostly, I’m numb. We get there, and I sit on the bed, out of it.

Liam looks at me, and I raise my head and look back. “Your scream saved me,” he says. “I’d frozen up, but your scream brought me out of it just in time to see his fist coming, in time for me to jerk my head away. He probably broke his hand on the tree. Then you broke I don’t know what all after that. I don’t think you’re afraid of a fight any longer.”

“I didn’t fight,” I argue. “I just stopped him from hurting you. That’s different.”

Liam just looks at me, and I drop my head again.

“I know what to do,” Liam says. “Something we’ve never done. Come on.”

He takes me into the bathroom, strips me and puts me in shower. Then he gets in with me.

“This is where it all started,” he says—and almost laughs.

The water brings me out of the fog I was in. His wet body up against mine awakens my libido. We end up replicating the solo job he’d performed before we’d met, and the process entirely dissolves the funk my attack put me in.

Liam is good at doing that. Liam is good at doing so many things. I’m trying to get him to come back to school next year. He says he’s learning more on the computer than he would at school. I tell him there’s more to life than an excellent online education. I think I’m wearing him down. I do have my wiles.