Chapter 2: Nostalgia

There was a steady pitter-patter against his window as he scribbled his name on a blank sheet of paper. He sighed. Lately, he had grown to detest homework. There had been a time when it served as an escape; it allowed him just a few moments to be free from life and its worries; yet, now that he actually had worries to avoid, it seemed to do the opposite. It turned his mind into a magnet, eager to suck in any form of self-pity or misery that it could reach.

He managed to go a minute before sighing again. The page was still blank.

"Come on…" He rubbed his temples and rested his elbows on the table. "I wish I'd gotten some more sleep." Another sigh slipped out. He didn't want to think about the night before.

The rain faded away as his pencil scratched at the paper. He wrote, on and off, for almost fifteen minutes. The end result was nothing special, but it was at least… acceptable. Mike stood up. He knew he there was a lot more to say and that he had delayed the essay enough, but he needed a break. He needed to clear his mind. Get a better perspective on things.

He pushed-in his chair and retreated downstairs. He went through the kitchen and exited through the back door. His backyard was small, but it was big enough. There was a white table, parasol, and chair sitting on the moist stone blocks at his feet. He admired the way the droplets of rain delicately clung to the furniture; it added beauty to things otherwise meaningless. He walked toward the edge of the steps and looked toward the sky. Yes, the rain had stopped.

"Mmmmm." He purred. The air smelled heavily of pine and was a perfect blend of warmth and coolness. It was a large improvement from the clammy blanket of heat and choking scent of exhaust of which the air was normally comprised. He stared at the large tree in his backyard, coated in bright, green leaves. He imagined that was the source of the nostalgic aroma.

It reminds me of when my mom would take me – and sometimes Lucy – up to the video game store. I'd take forever picking something out, and when I did, I would think of nothing else but that game until I could get home to play it. There was nothing better in the world than that feeling. To know I had hours of entertainment ahead. That I would be completely without boredom or stress.

"God…" He could barely hear his own voice.

He took deep breaths, trying to take in as much of the scent as he could. He didn't want it to leave him. It was the only connection he had to those times, and he desperately wanted them back.

"The worst things in the world were so trivial… Now, the only things in the world are trivial."

"Michael?"

He turned his head and looked back at his mom.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm just getting some fresh air. It's nice out here."

"Oh. You're okay, right, honey?"

"Huh? Yeah, I'm fine. Why do you ask?"

"You've just been acting a little odd lately… You know you can talk to me about anything, right?"

"Has it really been that obvious?"

"Yeah, I know. But don't worry, I'm fine!"

"…Okay. I'll be inside if you need anything."

"Thanks, mom."

"Love you, hon."

"Love you too." Mike turned away and looked back at the sky. He wondered if his mom was watching him from the door. Pondering what he found so fascinating about that tree, or that sky; but when he turned around, she was gone.

He returned to his room several minutes later. The page had a few paragraphs on it, but there was still a lot of work to do. He sighed and sat down at his desk. The rain started again: first, a slow pitter-patter, and soon a heavy downpour.

Mike stared blankly out the window. He could see himself, Paulo standing at his back. The Somali's long arms wrapped around him, embracing him in a warm, compassionate hug. Mike knew the thought was sick, but curiosity and exhaustion got the best of him. He didn't interfere with his imagination. Paulo inhaled deeply, taking in Mike's scent.

"I know you can do it, Mike. You're a really smart guy. That's why…" Another deep breath. " … I like you so much." Paulo's voice was soft and sweet.

Mike felt something growing in his chest as his breath picked up.

Paulo nuzzled him on the neck.

"Is it anger?"

He started to kiss him tenderly.

"Is it fear?"

His tongue started to moisten his fur.

"Maybe it's hate."

A hand was sliding across his hip.

"Could it be something else?"

The fingers touched him. The chair became a bed.

"No, it isn't."

Paulo climbed on top of him.

"It isn't one of those things."

Their lips impacted.

"It is all of them."

"I'm not gay." Mike whispered to himself. He felt his arousal hidden beneath the desk. "I'm not gay." He started stroking himself. "I'm not gay." He started going a little faster. "I'm not gay."

He stopped.

He returned to writing his paper.