My head is low so as not to disturb the beasts. I walk quietly, my feet curved into painful ballet shoes beneath my worn out sneakers.
It doesn't work.
"Look at that--" I block out that awful word. Laughter of goblins and ghouls echoes throughout the bland hallway. I need my history binder from my locker, I see the hideous creature leaned into it. His phone is like a mini plasma screen television. His fingers tap on it with practiced speed.

I enter history class for the third time this week without my binder. They are going to call my mom. "Can I please use the bathroom?" I ask. My voice is higher than most boys my age, but just the right octave for a fa-
"You may."

I am grateful for this. I don't go to the bathroom, but instead I go to my locker.

##

I'm bitter because my family had to move to this dump. The people here are assholes of every form.
I'm late on my first day.

I walk through the empty hallway and spot a tall boy with his face in his locker. His shoulders are rattling like how my little brother's do when he cries, but he's much louder. This boy is silent.

**

Someone approaches. I don't see a small plasma screen in their hands, but I know it must be him.
I start to cry, but I'm not sloppy enough to make a noise. Silent tears are the worst kind.

"Hey." he speaks softly, a warm hand is now on my back. I flinch and hit my head on the hook jutting out from my locker door.
"I didn't mean to startle you."

I like the way his voice sounds.

**

"Look at the--" I block out the awful word.
The boy with the nice voice does not.
He looks around and then stares directly into the beast's fiery eyes, "Isn't it strange that no one laughs at your jokes?" he asks. I can't be sure that he expects an answer.

The beast does not answer his question, but instead snarls at him and threatens him. He only grins.

##

I like walking with my tall friend. He's oddly fragile.
His mouth is nice. Sometimes-

**

"Sometimes I want to kiss you." my knight speaks from beside me. We're enjoying lunch in the sun, but partially avoiding the creatures flocked into the cafeteria.
I'm very surprised.
"But wouldn't that make us fa-"
He kisses me.

I've never been kissed before, and I don't know what to do. Maybe he doesn't either but neither of us discuss it. I can only stay still and allow it to happen to show him that I don't want to pull away.

"Don't say that word."
"Why?"
"Because we will never be that."

I stare at him in confusion.
"But we already are. We just kissed."

He shakes his head and smiles.
"Trust me."

**

It's our senior year of high school when my friend tells his mom that he's a fa- a... a lover-o-boys.
He moves away. He changes his number. I stay here.

**

I move to Minneapolis when I'm 25 years old.
I hear the most familiar voice in a small corner cafe.

Him.

"Jonathan?" I ask softly, turning fully around to face the boy with the nice voice. His arm is around a dark haired woman.

"Ew." he scrunches up his nose. "Let's leave, Denise. I don't want to eat in the same room as this faggot."

I don't block out the awful word because I don't expect it.
I stare at him with huge eyes.

"Don't say that word." I mumble under my breath. He doesn't respond.

Before he leaves he turns around and glares at me with eyes full of hate.

**

I met a guy in my dreaded math class called Erin.

On our first date, we choose a corner cafe not too far from the one before. But I couldn't show my face in there again.

It's him.

"Really? This faggot again?" he asks when it is only me at the table. But between his hatred I can see a soft pang of jealousy when Erin is seated across from me.

Erin looks around, then fixes his eyes onto Jonathan and his lady.

"Isn't it strange that no one laughs at your jokes?"