in the woods

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A/N: I really loved this image, and started writing. didn't expect this, but well muses... Hope it seems realistic. Constructive feedback is always appreciated. 

Also major thanks to Amber for reading this first <3

My favorite part of that summer wasn’t working. Okay, I got some great biceps. I picked up a few women thanks to my nasty looking scars for years after that. And to be fair, the guys were great to work with. I got lucky having my best friend, Johnny, with me. It wasn’t the worst job I’ve ever had.

But I hated working at the construction site: All the dust would stick to me. I’d shower for an hour and still come out with dirt in odd, uncomfortable places. For the first few weeks, I woke up every morning with bizarre new aches and pains. For a thousand dollars, I learned that being a day laborer wasn’t for me. I learned a lot about myself that summer. A lot I wasn’t even ready for, not for years anyways.

It started and ended in the woods. During lunch, me and Johnny would sneak off to have a smoke. To be honest, I hated the way they made my lungs feel. I’d let most of the cigarette burn through my fingers. I really wanted to get away from all the noise on the site. I’ve always loved the woods, I was just too self conscious at 17 to admit it.

I don’t know when, but Johnny and I started walking to the site. We’d meet at my house and then take the mile long walk through the woods. It was peaceful, and saved us a bit of gas money (later spent on beer). At the end of the day it was great: the sun would set and we’d stroll on home, our cigarette smoke trailing behind.

It was our last summer before college. Sure we were crowing about how amazing getting out of this shitty town would be. But secretly, we knew the end was coming. It was hanging over us, waiting like the fall. And this was the last summer before everything was gonna change.

So one night, toward the end, we were walking back. The days were getting shorter and it was dark halfway back. I couldn’t see shit. One minute I was talking, then suddenly I was falling over a root. Johnny tried to catch me, and we both ended on the ground, tangled in each other.

Groaning, we both tried to get up, struggling to untangle our legs. I sat up when I realized my jeans were still stuck on a stick.

“Fuck” I said, and bent down to reach it. “Johnny can you get it?”

He groaned, “what?”

“I’m stuck man!” I said as I tried to pull my leg free.

“Jesus, alright gimme a second.”

He turned around and freed my leg. We started to get up at the same time and, well, I don’t know who grabbed who, but suddenly we were kissing. Our arms grabbed at each out, our legs were tangled again.

Years later, it’s both so vivid and a blur. I remember tasting his sweat, the feel of jeans rubbing against jeans and skin. It was strangely familiar, kissing a man. I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what girls liked about us: the hard arms, the surprising gentleness on the lips, in the tongue. And even as I was thinking about this, I wasn’t really. It was just pleasure. Sounds stupid, I know. All I knew then was I just wanted more.

Perhaps it was because I moaned or he felt a bulge below my waistline. I don’t know, but something broke the moment.

“What the fuck! You trying to butt rape me? I’m not gay!” He said, pushing me away hard. He ran off before I could even think to say anything.

The next day he came by and picked me up in his truck. We never talked about that night, but we never walked in the woods again. A week later he was going to Cal State and I left for Skidmore. We never talked again.

For awhile, I tried to think of it as just a strange night. It was an accident in the woods, fatigue, darkness, just weirdness. I wasn’t a fag. I loved women, they way their breasts curve out asking you to touch em. I dated girls.

But sometimes, I noticed men. At the gym, my eyes couldn’t help but notice men in the middle of squats, their asses so tight. If I’d had a few too many beers with the boys, sometimes, I’d notice their mouths. I’d force myself to look away, to think about anything else.

I denied it, until I couldn’t anymore. It wasn’t really about being courageous or proud, it just wasn’t worth lying to myself anymore. I just was tired of denying myself. I wanted men. I wanted them a lot. And not having them, well, just hurt me. Fucking stupid now that I think about it. But that’s the way fear is sometimes.

Just to be clear: I’m not gay. I'm just not straight. All the labels make my head hurt. I just think of myself as an appreciator of the human form. The way a woman’s thighs part when she wants you. The strong width of a man’s shoulders. I love both, but in different ways. Like sometimes you want sweet, sometimes you want salty. Sometimes I want a man, sometimes I want a woman. 

Occasionally, I’m lucky enough to have both.

As far as Johnny, well, I haven’t seen him in years. Last I heard he had married a girl from Cal State and settled closer to Sacramento. When I go for hikes in the woods, I think of him. I’m not bitter: it’s been too long to hold onto that night. But I hope he’s happy, I hope he’s honest with himself. Life’s too short not to go after what you want.

Created: Mar 20, 2014

Tags: desire, longing, want, love, introspective, looking back, memory, summer, work, sex, woods, men, transition, forest, fluidity, homosexuality, sexuality, remix, fiction, story, prose

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