I slam my fist into the wall, splitting my knuckles and disturbing a cloud of the dust that coats everything in my hovel of a room. I let out a bellow of pain and frustration and my eyes swim with tears. But I wasn't crying because of my hand. I was crying because of them. I bring my non-injured hand up to my face and gently caress my swollen eye and split lip. I can feel where the bruises will form on the rest of my body. I can still feel the ghost of their feet where they knocked the wind out of me again and again and again. Still feel their punches colliding with my ribs and my stomach and my chest. Still feel the bitter humiliation as their spit trickled down my face. Still hear their sneering taunts of "fag", "queer" and "homo".
I suppose it all started with him. His name was Daniel. He was on the football team, the soccer team and the swim team. He was good at all academic subjects and was the head boy of our school. He was a real ladies man, with his curls of hair and innocent brown eyes. In reality, he was anything but innocent. He had a reputation and he was practically worshipped by the majority of the students. I always considered him too boisterous and big headed but as I had never said more than a few words to him I never knew how harshly I had misjudged him. Everyone knew his name but he didn't really have any proper friends. It was like he was too perfect to be a genuine person. Like he was a god among mere mortals. Removed from us with a divine separation. This was before me of course.
I was one of those students who no one really ever fully noticed. I always blended into the background, like an extra in movie. I was extraordinarily ordinary. People rarely acknowledged me and I would bet less than half my class knew my name. They would recognise me of course and were vaguely aware of my presence but I was essentially a nobody. But that was before Daniel.
We met properly for the first time at a swim practise and even though I was reluctant to exchange more than a few sentences with him we soon started talking more and more. He was so different than I had always imagined. He was so nice and suddenly we were meeting up outside of school. First every so often and then nearly every day after school. I guess I kinda became his best friend and he was incontestably mine. Soon people would say hi to me in the corridors, sit with me at lunch. Even though I had always considered myself above the shallow, materialistic spiral that was typically the root of every schools' social ranking, I became popular by association and I loved it.
Of course, at this point, I barely knew what the world 'gay' even meant. I had no doubts that I was into anything else but girls. The problem was I had never really gotten close enough to a girl to think anything otherwise. As a result of my newfound popularity the world of females was accessible to me in a way it never had been before. But I would feel nothing. After a while I went from feeling uncomfortably indifferent to eventually actively repulsed. I have nothing against girls, it was just the idea of being with them in the way that all the guys I know seem to be perpetually dreaming about that nearly made me gag. There wasn't a specific day when I realised the truth. I never had a great epiphany. I just knew. I was gay and I was terrified.
It happened at a party. It was soon after I realised. I was still shaken and paranoid. Convinced people could tell from looking at me what I thought of as my ugly secret. As a result I ended up consuming a lot more alcohol than I usually limited myself to. So when I found myself up on the roof next to Daniel at about 3am I was completely intoxicated. I do blame it on the alcohol. But if I am completely honest with myself, I knew exactly what I was doing.
Looking sideways at his chiselled jaw and crooked smile as he chatted about some girl he had hooked up with. A crumpled beer can in his fist. His curls falling over his forehead. He looked so perfect in the moonlight. I couldn't help myself. Before I knew it I was kissing him. Even all these months later I still can't convince myself otherwise, because I swear, in that moment, he kissed me back.
Then all of a sudden I was thrown backwards and my head snapped to the side as his fist cracked into my jaw. I looked up at him to see him scrubbing at his mouth as if to get rid of a foul taste. He couldn't get away fast enough. He only hesitated to turn and hiss "freak" in my general direction before staggering off. Tears filled my eyes and I barely made it to the edge of the roof before I was throwing up what felt like my entire inside.
And now everyone knows. I am actively avoided during school and beaten up every day after. My life has become hell. I'm treated like I'm contagious, or a freak in a show for people to marvel at with horrified fascination. I just want to escape from this place. Sometimes I can feel this tiny town closing in. I just want to get away. Suddenly my computer lights up and the familiar bing echoes through my room interrupting my agony. I feel my muscles relax and for the first time that day I feel a smile spread across my face. Everything is going to okay. I'm going to be alright. He's online.