The Age of Innocence

Chapter 11

I did some thinking while up in my room. I was tired of my mom thinking I was a little boy and totally under her thumb. That had to stop. The question was, how could I make that happen without totally destroying our family unit? Thinking about it, I did get an idea. Would it work? Maybe.

I also wanted to move things along with Micah. I wasn’t ready to tell him I loved him. I was ready to find out if he was gay. Could I do that without telling him I was gay? Did that matter? This was all new to me, and what was the right thing to do? It was easier thinking of how to deal with my mother than figuring this out. But this was just as important, perhaps even more important to me.

I still had my essay to write, but I was still making notes and thought that when I started, it would be pretty straightforward, pretty simple to write the thing. I still had plenty of time.

I had to continue to learn the songs in choir just by listening to them. I kept meaning to ask Micah to teach me what the hieroglyphics on the music pages meant and how to interpret them, but I never had. Good thought: I’d do that after our next rehearsal; perhaps that would goad him into asking me to his house. I’d told my mom I’d been invited to play video games, but that hadn’t been true. I’d just been trying for an excuse to get out of the house. Hadn’t worked.

My dad would be home soon. I moved from the bed to my computer and went to work. When he was home, I’d tell him my mom-plan, and if he agreed, I’d set it in action.

≈≈ ≈≈

We ate a relatively quiet dinner. We never had raucous ones, but there was usually a bit of conversation. Not that night. I’d spoken to Dad, so he knew what had happened and my thoughts about it. I’d even explained my plan to him, and he’d said it sounded like good thinking to him and that it had a better-than-average chance of working.

But the dinner was still a bit tense. My mother asked me a couple of questions, and I either answered with one or two words or simply ignored them. That raised her hackles, but she was never as stern with me when Dad was in the room versus when it was just the two of us. I could see by the way she was holding herself that my refusal to pretend I wasn’t upset with her was making her angry. I didn’t care. It might serve me better if she was.

Dad simply ate without saying anything. When she asked him a question, he told her he’d talk to her about it later.

So we finished dinner silently, and when it was over, I said, “I would like a family meeting tonight. Living room, seven-thirty. I’ll be in my room till then.” Then I went upstairs. If my parents spoke after I left, I didn’t know. Didn’t need to. This would be my meeting, and I’d call the shots, and I doubted very much Dad would steal any of my thunder in advance.

I walked into the living room on time. I’d selected the living room instead of the family room because it was more formal. We’d all be more relaxed in the family room. I didn’t want relaxed.

I hadn’t really prepared a speech. I would wing it. But I knew what I wanted to say and hadn’t needed to practice it.

They were seated in upholstered chairs, not together on the couch. One point for me. They weren’t presenting a united front.

They were seated. I’d considered that and decided it would be better if I sat, too. Way too confrontational if I were standing. I wanted this talk to be persuasive, not belligerent or dictatorial or demanding. Those wouldn’t work well on my mother. She’d fight back.

I pulled up a chair. “Mom,” I said, “there has be a change here. I don’t think you want to live in a war zone for the next four-and-a-half years. We’ve now seen how that works for the past few months. I don’t like it, and I doubt you do, either.”

She opened her mouth, and I kept talking. “I’d prefer it if you waited till I was done before responding. It’ll go much better for both of us that way. So continuing, my problem is that I’m not going to allow myself to be treated as if I were still a preteen. I’m not one, and it isn’t fair for me to be treated as one. I have to start learning independence, and so far, you’re resisting that.”

Criticizing her wouldn’t do me any favors, so I rushed on as I knew she’d react. Still, I’d had to make that point. “I’ll never learn to think for myself, act in my best interests, if I don’t learn how, beginning at this age. So I will, with you or without you. We’ll be fighting constantly if it goes the way it has recently, and eventually one of us will have had enough. That’s no way to live, and it’s entirely unnecessary. So, things have to change.”

She again started to speak, and I simply raised my hand like a traffic cop stopping the flow of cars and continued.

“I know it’ll be hard for you not to tell me what I can and can’t do. Yet you don’t need to any longer, and you probably realize that. I’ll make good decisions, just like I always have. But it’ll be very hard for you not to continue on your current path. So I’ve looked at that and come up with a way to help. It’s what I like to do, actually. I like helping people.”

I couldn’t stop her this time. “You’re not the one who’ll be telling me how to act. The very idea—”

My dad cleared his throat. That caused my mom to shoot him an angry glance, and I continued talking in the momentary silence.

“Your problem is you’re a very capable woman, smart, educated and trained, and you’re stuck at home with only me to supervise—me and a pile of your own frustrations. That is what needs to be fixed, all that frustration. Well, I have a suggestion.

“I’m perfectly able to take care of myself now, and it’s causing me all sorts of grief that I’m not being allowed to make the simplest decisions about myself for myself. Teens are famous for becoming rebellious. It’s not part of my disposition to rebel, but I’m feeling those vibes. I get angry now when I rarely did before. If it’s a teen thing, then my anger will only get stronger unless we call a truce. Here’s my idea of what to base that truce on.”

I took a deep breath. “You should consider going back to work. Getting out of the house. Finding a challenge that will give you a purpose. There’s a whole world out there, and there’s a desperate need for what you can do well. Nurses are in great demand. And you’re a trained nurse. You were a good one.”

I handed her a piece of paper. “I’ve done a little research. On the front side of that paper is a current want-ad listings of local openings for nurses. On the back side are two listings. One is for enrollment in classes at our community college for refreshing your nursing credentials. The second is the phone number of an administrator at that college. He’s looking for someone to teach some of those courses. Both sides of that paper present you with opportunities to move on with your life. It’s your decision to do what you will with them.

I gave her a moment to look at the sheet of paper, then continued. “You’ll need to relinquish your hold on me in four-and-a-half years no matter what you do in the meantime. Why not start now and make the entire family happier?”

Mom was going through all sorts of emotions. It had become standard practice for her to disagree with me, to argue with anything I said, and to be in complete control of me. Yet what I’d said had certainly resonated to some extent. Another factor was that Dad hadn’t said a word. By not doing so, it felt like he was throwing silent support behind my suggestion.

I stopped again to let her read the paper in silence for a minute or two, then said, very softly, “Whether you do what I’m suggesting or not is entirely up to you. Just as it’s entirely up to me whether to accept or not accept rules and restrictions that don’t make sense and that limit my growth and happiness. I’ll stay in this weekend. I’ll allow myself to be grounded. But we both know this punishment was arbitrary and capricious on your part, and this is notice that it’s the last time I’ll accept this sort of thing without a full-scale, drag-out war. One that will not be pretty.”

With that I left the room.

≈≈ ≈≈

I was curious what breakfast the next day would be like. Normally I had a bowl of cereal and toast, both of which I fixed for myself. Mom always cooked something for Dad: eggs, hot cereal, sometimes pancakes. She’d said I was old enough to fix my own breakfast. Yeah, sure, but not old enough to decide much of anything else on my own. Coming downstairs, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m not sure she did, either, as she didn’t say a word to me. I ate and left for school. She might not have realized it, but the silent treatment was much preferable to a lecture about something. So, as far as I was concerned, this was an improvement.

I was looking forward to what was to happen that day, to moving forward with my thoughts about Micah. This was choir-practice night, and afterwards I’d walk partway home from school with him. Which is what I did. On our walk, I asked Micah, “Do you think you could teach me how to read this?” I showed him my copy of the music we were rehearsing.

He glanced at it and then frowned. “Really? You know, you have to be really smart to understand this stuff. It’s college-graduate-level learning. I’m not sure you’re smart enough.”

So he wanted to play games. I could win this one easily enough. “Then why do the sixth-graders seem to be able to read it? They look at it while they’re singing. I’m the only one in the choir who isn’t doing that.”

“Hmmmmm. That is odd, isn’t it?”

I’d never been physical with him. I’d have liked to do something of that sort before but knew the ongoing problem I had when around him would present its ugly head if I did. Now though, this was the perfect opportunity, he was begging for it and he deserved it! Screw my problem! I gave him a shove off the sidewalk onto the lawn next to it. He grabbed me as he was falling down and I was pulled onto the lawn as well. We rolled around a bit, each establishing the upper hand and then losing it over and over again amid gales of laughter. My problem occurred on schedule. Even with all the time I’d now spent with him, my attraction to him hadn’t faded one iota and touching him, or him touching me, was all my body needed.

I thought, the hell with it. Boys in stories I’d read got boners when they wrestled. Happened all the time. If I got one and he felt it, would that be the end of the world as I knew it? Or wouldn’t it just be business as usual for two thirteen-year-old boys? After all, he’d actually seen me naked and hard. He knew I got boners, just as I knew he did. This was a case of ‘nothing new to see here, ma’am. Just move on, please.’ So I just forgot about it and went about showing him who was boss here.

That was harder than I’d thought. We were of equal size and shape, mostly, but I’d figured he was softer than I was. He just seemed that way. But he was no pushover. I was on top, then he was, and we were both laughing half the time, and yeah, even though I’d mentally resolved the issue with my boner, knowing he was feeling it pressed against him was distracting.

As was feeling his against me. That inspired me.

When I was on top, I said, “You’re hard.” I didn’t make it an accusation, just a statement of fact.

“So?” he said.

“Uh, just telling you in case you hadn’t noticed. Thought you’d want to know.”

He laughed. “Of course I noticed. Do you ever get hard and not notice?”

Okay, so now we were talking about our boners. Who’d have expected that to happen when we’d just been talking about reading sheet music?

Could I go farther with this? Could I mention I frequently had boners when I was with him? I wanted to. I really did. I wanted so badly to be open and honest with him. With honesty comes greater intimacy and closeness. That’s what I desired with him.

I couldn’t do it, though. Not without having thought it out. Spur-of-the-moment wasn’t who I was. So I just answered his question, hoping it was the first of a continuing discussion that would get us closer to where I wanted to go.

“I don’t think so.”

“You’re not sure?”

“Well, it happens a lot, more than I’d like it to. I seem to be boner-prone. Most anything, anytime, and there I am. It’s an ordeal, I tell you, an ordeal I’ve had to live with.” I grinned. I happened to still be on top of him. He wasn’t resisting, simply looking up at me with his gorgeous face. I was looking down at him and my nether part wasn’t waning at all. Looking down at him, the urge to lean down and kiss him was incredibly strong.

He gave a sudden heave and I was rolled off, and then he was on top, looking down at me. Now his boner, pressing into me, was obvious. “You probably need to jerk off more. A dick too ready to stiffen simply means you don’t exercise it enough.”

“You’re giving me jack-off advice?”

“I know, I know, you wouldn’t suppose I’d have to teach you this; it’s like having to teach a ten-year-old how to tie his shoes.” His voice was colored with ultimate patience and despair, obviously feigned and so even funnier. “He should already know the basics. He’s ten! But if he doesn’t know how to do the simplest thing and someone can help him out, he should be appreciative, even if a little embarrassed at his lack of knowledge in that area.”

“I know how to jack off!”

“Obviously not often enough!”

“Who are you to tell me I don’t jack off enough?” I tried to put outrage in my voice but failed miserably.

He just laughed, then retorted with, “I’m not the one who spouts erections all over the place at the worst possible times. I’m the other guy, that’s who.”

I sort of gulped, then said, “Do you think I do that?”

I guessed he heard something in my voice, maybe fear coming from knowing with near certainty that he’d seen me getting them for no reason when I was with him. The look on his face became compassionate, and his voice lost its humor. “We all do some of that, Scottie. And if I’ve noticed you do it more than most—remember, I said ‘if’—then to me, it’s cute. I like seeing you turned on.”

“You do?”

“Sure.” He stared up at me a moment longer, then rolled off but didn’t get up. He lay next to me on the lawn. His arm was still touching mine.

My urge to tell him what I felt was stronger than ever. I decided not to, but my voice seemed to have a mind of its own.

“I do get them too easily.” I gulped again, and then, in a moment of absolute terror, said: “Especially around you.”

He didn’t say anything for a moment but moved just slightly so our arms weren’t just brushing against each other. Now they were against each other.

When he did speak, it was in a hushed voice. “I like that, too.”

I had to wonder if I was hearing what I thought I was. Suddenly blood was rushing through my head and almost roaring in my ears. Did he say he liked me getting boners around him? Did he mean he liked me getting boners because of him?

The time for subtlety was over. “Do you . . . do I . . . are you . . . I feel . . . ” Damn! This was too sudden, too abrupt, and I didn’t do well with either. I needed to plan things, and I had no plan for this. I needed to work up to things, and this was already here, right in front of me, right now!

“Slow down, Scottie,” he said. “You’re going to bust a blood vessel. I like you. I’m pretty sure you like me. I think that’s what all those boners have been telling me. I know you, too. I know you like to go slowly and think ahead, and this is all too fast for you. Spontaneity, thy name is not Scottie. But I’ve gotten tired of waiting for you to make your move. I decided to push it along. If I’m wrong, if you don’t feel like I do about us, then we’ll deal with that. Or I will. But I don’t think I’m wrong.”

I had to ask. Had to. “If you knew, why didn’t you say something? You’re a lot braver than I am.”

“I wasn’t sure. I did hint at it several times. You never made anything of that, and so I didn’t know. I kept waiting for you to say something. Do something. I guess finally you did. You grabbed me, threw me to the ground, and rubbed your boner on me.”

“I didn’t! No way, that was just an accident. It just happened!”

He laughed. I loved his laugh. But he laughed and said, “You’re so defensive! You have to know I was kidding you.” He reached over and, as his arm was touching mine, it was easy for him to grasp my hand. “I think you wanted to kiss me a moment ago. It was in your eyes. I would have liked that. I wanted you to. Does that make everything clear?”

I rolled over on my side so I could see him. Could I tell him how much I loved him? I thought that should wait. Just telling him I felt like he did was enough. “I like you too, Micah. I have for a long time. Liked you a lot. But I’m so cautious—too much, I know—and didn’t know how to, well, do what you just managed. I was too scared of losing you.”

“You wouldn’t have done that, you know. I’ve liked you since Gym. That first time. The showers sealed it. I’ve thought I was gay for well over a year. What I feel about you confirms it. I guess you’re gay? You must be if you really like me like I like you.”

This was so easy! And I’d sweated it so hard. “I do really like you. I never thought I was gay before I met you. Now I think I probably am. I’m certainly gay for you. For other boys? Not that I know of. But I don’t need to be if I have you. I told my father I might be gay, and he said it was best not to put a label like that on myself but just to live like I want to live. That’s what I’m doing. And now I’m doing it with you, and I’m so happy I don’t know what.”

‘Yeah, I see it’s affected your vocabulary, too. ‘Don’t know what?’ What does that mean?”

“Who knows?” I said and laughed.

“You’re gay enough to want to do gay things?” he asked. I could hear his hope.

I grinned at him. This I didn’t have to overthink. “You’d better believe it!”

≈≈ ≈≈

We were in Micah’s room. He lived in a very nice house, nicer than mine. We were a one-income family and made do. Both Micah’s parents worked and at good jobs, too. His mom was a vet’s technician who worked for a clinic in town, and his dad was an accountant who had his CPA and was a partner in a small firm.

Both were still at work when we arrived at his house. When Micah explained that as we were walking in the front door, my heart began racing. Anticipation, coupled with uncertainty. What would we be doing? Would I be ready for it? As it was Micah, I didn’t see how I could say no to anything. But I didn’t think I wanted to do a lot of the stuff I’d seen on the internet. Not yet at least. Maybe it would seem less icky once I was into it a little.

Micah’s room was nice, too. Queen-sized bed, made. Bookshelves, full. Desk with a desktop computer and printer. Closet, door closed. The room was tidy. Mine wasn’t. I wondered if that was Micah’s doing or if his mom picked up after him or, well, maybe they had a maid. A live-in maid?

“Do you have a maid?” I asked.

He laughed. Roared, more like. It gave me the thought that perhaps he was as nervous as I was. When he stopped, he said, “No, no maid. We do have a cleaning service that comes in once a week. Neither Dad nor Mom want to spend a lot of time on housework as they’re pretty busy at work. But none of us are real messy, so once a week having a small crew of cleaners is enough.”

“But your room. Mine looks like a slob lives there.”

“I don’t like messy. I don’t want to live in squalor till the cleaners come on Saturday. It really takes no time at all to keep it nice. I put my clothes in the hamper when I take them off. It takes only a few seconds more than dropping them in a heap and actually saves time if you consider you then don’t have to walk around them to get anywhere. Making the bed in the morning takes me about a minute, and that makes the room look more inviting when I walk in later. So, you like messy?”

“Not like it, exactly. Just not interested in the bother of keeping it neat. The mess doesn’t bother me.”

He shook his head. “Looks like I have my work cut out for me then. This is the first thing I’ve found that needs to be fixed. Other that being a slob, you’re perfect.”

I blushed. Him, calling me perfect. Ridiculous.

He dropped his backpack on his desk then looked at me.


“Uh, I’ve never done anything. Making out, I mean. You’ll have to show me how.”

“Me?” He was crazy! “You think I know about this? That I’m experienced?”

“Well, you had a boyfriend and then a girlfriend, and you’re incredibly sexy. Of course I expect you’ve been with people.”

“I’m not sexy! And I was just friends with Troy, and Lina’s Lina. No sex involved with either. Ever. With anyone.”

“We’ll just have to go by feel then, I guess.” He leered at me, wiggled his eyebrows, and I giggled.

“Yeah, I expect feeling is part of it.”

“So, let’s?”

I could see, he was every bit as nervous as I was. Well, there was something I’d been dying to do for what seemed like forever. So, I walked to the bed and sat on it, and patted a spot right next to me. He got the hint, walked over and sat down.

I kissed him. First kiss on the lips ever for me. For him, too. I won’t even try to explain what it felt like. But it was magical. Amazing. We quickly learned there was so much more to it than I’d ever seen on TV or in the movies or even on the internet. It could be firm or soft or playful or intense, and it could move from one of those to another without our lips parting.

It didn’t take long to learn how erotic it was to get our tongues involved. We’d also learned right off that kissing and boners went together as if there was a direct cable connecting our lips to our crotches. The only reason we stopped kissing eventually was so we could rearrange ourselves, which we both did with a blush. Although, as we were both already so flushed from the kissing, neither of us noticed.

Eventually, we pulled apart. His eyes were shiny, as I supposed mine were, too. We were both more panting than breathing. I wasn’t sure I could talk intelligibly but tried and found I could, after a fashion. The panting did make it difficult.

“Are you as nervous about where we go from here as I am?”

“Yeah. I want to, but I’ve seen stuff on the internet I don’t want to do.”

“Me too! Yes!” I felt a great sense of relief. “Some of that stuff looks gross. I’ve only looked at stuff online a little, and that was more curiosity than anything else.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I saw one where a boy was licking another boy’s asshole. Can you imagine doing that? What’s sexy about that? Eeew!”

“That’s weird! And gross. No, I don’t want to do anything like that. That whole part of the body has no appeal to me.”

“Good; me neither.”

I took a deep breath, he did, too, and we grinned at each other. “I’m glad we can talk about this,” I said. “Knowing we can, that makes me feel better. Less nervous.”

“We need to keep doing that: talking. We’ll feel better, we won’t be as nervous, and I think it’ll make us closer. It means we’re not embarrassed to talk about the stuff we do. Or don’t do. That seems more intimate. I want that.”

“I want that more than anything,” I said. And the fact was, I did. Yes, I did want to, what do they call it, fool around? But I wanted to be close to him, part of his world, and him to be part of mine just as much or more. Just being in his room with him, just us, was almost a religious experience for me.