This story was written in response to homophobic comments made by a certain writer. The story features characters with names featured in the famous work by said writer, but the characters are unrelated (unless you’d like to headcanon them that way, in which case, my control dies here). Enjoy.
He’d always had one of those smiles—so bright it was as if he’d kidnapped the sun. Carla used to joke that it was all those tic tacs, tiny cut outs of a burning star that fed his ever-present joy. I just nodded along because the year was 1969, and boys like me, boys who liked other boys, were just as new as those sun-bright breath mints Johnny seemed to live off of.
That didn’t stop me from getting close, attempting to bask in just enough heat so as not to get burned. I lent Johnny my books because he loved to read and my notebook because he was too busy reading to take notes. I walked home from school with him, our sneakers scuffing up gravel and our backpacks thumping our shoulder blades in a syncopated rhythm. He’d whistle and I’d hum along, our heartbeats the metronome to keep the tempo consistent.
And then his mother would be waiting at the door, a sharp glint in her eye like a violent meteor with its course set to tear a hole between us. She always kept her hair tidily in a bun, her lipstick soft and pink, the color women were supposed to wear to please their husbands, boys like Johnny who would never like boys like me.