This week I've decided to introduce you to my friend - Jacob. I met Jacob almost two and a half years ago when I finished my first year at writing school. I fell in love with him instantly, and knew I wanted to tell his story.
This is the first chapter of the manuscript I've been working on the last few years. I hope you like it. Lucy X
Last week, I fell in love. Dad always told me that when it happens, you just know. He also said it was unlikely to happen when you were eleven and I should ‘relax’, so I guess he doesn’t know everything. Because I’m in love. I’ve met the girl I want to spend the rest of my life with. My heart races when she walks in the room. I go to sleep thinking about her and I dream about her and when I wake up I jump out of bed because I know it’s nearly time to see her.
But then I see her and get too nervous to speak. My face goes red and my hands start to shake and I look away because she’s cool and pretty and I’m boring and lame. Like on Wednesday Pap tried to give me a kiss goodbye but I didn’t want her to see and I jumped out of the car and didn’t even say goodbye to him. I’ll have to say sorry later. Pap’s pretty sensitive. He says things like he ‘can’t sleep without a kiss and a cuddle goodnight from his best boy’. I’ve told Pap I’m too old for him to keep talking to me like that but he doesn’t listen. Pap’s getting pretty good at ignoring all my requests lately. Like when I asked him not to wear sparkly scarves to my parent/teacher night, or not to call Sally’s mum ‘darling’, or not to wear too many of his ‘glam’ rings to my school concert. Dad’s different than Pap, he’s more like a regular dad, but Pap can be totally embarrassing. He talks high and gets squealy and excited sometimes.
I’d wanted to talk to Pap in the car about my girl, but I didn’t know what to say. He doesn’t think I need to have a girlfriend until I’m at least like, sixteen. But I can’t wait that long. Someone might steal her from me.
Here’s what I know about love:
1. You can love all different kinds of things. For example: I love my cat, Shaun. I think he’s going to die soon, and I heard Dad and Pap talking about getting me a puppy, which I would also love. If it’s a boy I think I’ll call him Dylan. If it’s a girl (I hope it’s not a girl, but I will still love it if it is) I’ll call it Carrie, after the girl from channel ten who reads the news.
2. You can also love certain types of food, like chocolate and ice cream and you can also hate different types of food like salmon and tomatoes. I love going to the movies with Uncle Tristan and I love when Grandma comes to visit and brings me a new video game. I love video games.
3. You can love people in different kinds of ways. My dads are gay, so they hold hands and kiss and stuff. My grandma and my auntie and uncle love me and I love them too, but we don’t hold hands and kiss and pat each other’s bums when we walk past.
4. You can love someone you’ve never met. Like Carrie from the TV and my mum and Poppy. They both died when I was a baby and never met them. Well, like I did but I can’t remember. Mum died just after giving birth to me and Poppy died a week later because he was hit by a car because the driver was drunk. My dads say you should never drink and drive and it’s illegal and bad and I’ll never do it. Pap said my parents loved me so much that’s why they asked him and Dad to be my new family. Like, they wanted me to live in the best possible house and have the best parents. Once when I was having a fight with Dad, I told him that Mum would be angry at him for talking to me like that because she trusted him with me and he got so upset he couldn’t look at me for the rest of the day. Pap was really mad when he found out. I was grounded for a week and couldn’t go to Sally’s and couldn’t play Xbox. I’ve never said anything like that again.
5. It’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. (I don’t know what this means, but when I asked Auntie Amy what she thought of love she told me that, and like, she’s never been married or had kids so she probably doesn’t know what it means either.)
That’s it. Not a lot but I’m only eleven and I’m still learning about stuff. But I know enough to know I’m in love.
I sat on the bench and waited for Sally. Someone called out ‘homo’ as they walked past but I ignored it. I’m used to it now. How stupid can some people be? Like, you can catch gay from being around it?
I think I’m pretty lucky with my dads. They let me watch whatever I want on TV and if I don’t eat all my dinner I still get dessert. Sally only has a mum because her dad left. These kids with their mum and dad and big brother and dog who think they have it all make me sad. I saw this kid from school, Derek Coleman, at the supermarket. His dad hit him over the head for knocking something over. It was an accident, and he hit him. My dads only ever smacked me if I said something really rude. And never over the head. And never since I went to high school.
Sally’s car pulled up outside school and I watched her kiss her mum goodbye and hop out of the car. Sally never worries about what anyone thinks of her. I reckon that’s brave. I’d never be that brave. She’s pretty too, like, she could be in a Kmart catalogue or something. Some guy went up to her mum at the supermarket and told her. Apparently he was a kid modeling agent, but it still freaked Sally’s mum out. She does have nice hair though. It’s blonde and long and straight and mine’s short and dark and a bit curly. She spotted me straight away and skipped over.
‘Sally, I saw her.’
‘Good morning, Jacob,’ she said, rolling her big brown eyes at me. I didn’t care.
‘I saw her. She’s so beautiful. I’m in love.’
Sally told me I was being stupid, that you’re not allowed to love your teacher. But I can’t help it.
‘I’m going to tell her how I feel.’
‘Sure, Jacob. And what do you think that’s going to achieve?’ Sally is always so logical. I think it’s because she’s a year older than me. She reckons she’s smarter and sees things in black and white, where as I see things in technicolor. I met Sally in third grade. I’d skipped grade two and she was the only person who was nice to me. Everyone else called me a show off. She’s the only one in the class who can beat me at algebraic equations.
‘I don’t know. But I have to.’ ‘Do you want to kiss her?’ ‘What? No way.’ ‘Do you want to date her?’ ‘Date her? What does that even mean?’ ‘You know, go to the movies and stuff.’ ‘I don’t think she’d be allowed to go to the movies with me. Would she?’
‘See?’ said Sally, enjoying my discomfort. ‘There is absolutely no point telling Miss Mackey that you love her.’
I hate the way Sally says ‘love’. All sarcastic and stuff. Like I don’t know what it means.
‘You told Billy Black you loved him.’
‘Shut up,’ she spat. I’d broken our golden rule – never talk about Billy Black.
Billy was in eighth grade, and was in Sally’s advanced science class. She thought he touched her hand on purpose when they were dissecting a mouse. Apparently, he was just trying to grab the knife back off her. But she didn’t know this until after she wrote him a letter telling him how her heart started beating really fast when she felt his hand on hers and after he photocopied it and put it in everyone’s locker. Sally didn’t come back to school for a week, until her mum busted her hiding out at the museum. Her mum was really angry because she caught the bus to the city on her own and the principal was really angry because she didn’t go to her classes when she was supposed to and Sally got grounded and detention. She’d never been in trouble before and she cried for hours. I did detention with her, because she was so sad. And because detention was with Miss Mackey.
That was before I knew I loved her. Back then I just knew like, I wanted to be around her.
I know Sally is right. Miss Mackey is my teacher. I can’t be her boyfriend. But want to tell her, because I want to know if she loves me too.
But I won’t write a letter. I learnt from Sally’s mistake. Never say anything you can’t deny if you change your mind or someone is teasing you. This is high school after all.
I decided I’d better apologise to Sally, or she’d sulk all day, and I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to until PE. Grade seven and eight are combined for PE and my neighbour, Sam, is in the class. He doesn’t mind talking to me, even though I’m younger than him. Sometimes I bug him when I talk too much about science or video games. He gets bored and tries to talk about sport, but there’s only so much I know about sport, so I get bored then and we have to try and find something else to talk about. Sometimes, we don’t talk at all. We just walk home together, listening to our iPods. People think Sam’s my brother, ‘cos he’s got short, dark, curly hair too. He looks heaps older than me. He looks sixteen, at least. Pap said it’s his ‘strong jaw’. I don’t have a strong jaw. I don’t have a strong anything. I’m the smallest boy in my class. But that’s ‘cos I’m the youngest. I wasn’t the smallest when I was in class with kids my own age. But at least I’m bigger than Sally. She’s really tiny.
‘Sally, I’m sorry. Of course this is a different situation and you are much smarter and more mature than me and I was wrong and you were right. Please forgive me.’
Dad always says my mum was the queen of sarcasm. She would say exactly what you wanted to hear while really saying ‘you’re a total twat’. I try this technique on Sally sometimes because she is really smart at Math and Science but she only ever hears what she wants to hear.
‘Of course I forgive you,’ she shrugged. ‘We got time for a coffee before home room?’ ‘Got fifteen minutes.’ ‘Perfect.’ And she linked her arm in mine and skipped me off to the canteen.
In case you’re worried, we don’t really drink coffee in high school. It’s just what you say because ‘have we got time for a warm milk with chocolate on top?’ sounds seriously lame. Sam plays hockey with this kid from a private school who reckons they serve real coffee. Sam reckons he’s full of it. You can’t serve kids coffee, even if their parents are rich.
I’m lucky I’ve got Sally as my friend. She says she likes hanging out with me more than the girls in her class ‘cos they always talk about lip gloss and boys and she couldn’t care less about lip gloss or boys.
‘Hey, gayboy! Didn’t your mummy pack your lunch today?’
Pap tells me the best thing to do with boys like Derek Coleman is to ignore them. He says they only pick on me because they’re jealous of what I have. But he always teases me about the things I don’t have, like a mum too, so I’m not sure if Pap’s right.
‘Hey, Derek! Steal your dad’s jokes again?’
Sally was a good mate; she always came up with a comeback before I did.
‘Least I’ve got a dad,’ Derek smirked. ‘Hey, why don’t you borrow one of gayboy’s?’
‘Why don’t you get a brain?’ I mocked. Like I said, Sally was better with comebacks than me.
I’ve never actually been in a fight. I’ve heard about them happening, but like, we never get three sentences in before a teacher pops their head around the corner and breaks it up. Today it was Mr Morris, from the science department. He likes me and Sally the best because we always stay back to help clean up the lab. I know; it’s lame. But we get As, and we don’t want that to change.
‘Alright, what’s going on here?’
I panicked. I hate getting in trouble. I used to get in trouble in primary school for climbing the fence to get the ball back but I hit it over and I’d get yelled at by the other kids if I didn’t get it back so I couldn’t win. The principal told me to be careful, getting in trouble was much worse in high school.
‘Jacob was calling me dumb,’ Derek blurted out.
‘Only because you called him GAYBOY,’ Sally spat back.
‘Alright, that’s enough. Derek is that true?’
‘That he called me dumb?’
‘Yes, Sir,’ he answered, kicking his heel into the carpet.
‘I’ll see you in my office at lunch thanks, Derek. Off you go now.’
Derek muttered under his breath and stormed off. We’ll see him again after recess anyway, he’s in Miss Mackey’s religion class with us. But he never plays up in front of Miss Mackey. Come to think of it, no one plays up in Miss Mackey’s class.
‘You all right, Jacob?’ he asked me.
I nodded. I actually hate when teachers ask me if I’m okay. They treat me like I’m a baby and I’ll cry if anyone says something mean about my gay dads. But I’ve never cried. I don’t feel sorry for myself. And I wish no one else did. But I was really glad I wasn’t in trouble.
I felt sorry for myself once. I was in fourth grade, and we’d just been taught about homosexuality in Life Ed. They brought someone from outside the school to talk to us about it, like it was too full on for any of the existing schoolteachers to handle. But they’d obviously not told this lady about my family, and she was a bit of an idiot. Seriously, if she was the ‘specialist’ on this topic, I’d hate to see her working in another profession, like medicine. She’d probably kill everyone.
The class was awful, everyone was making pointed questions at my expense and she just kept answering them, not realising they were all winding her - and me - up. Eventually, I just walked out of the classroom and out of school. But I didn’t go home. I waited next door for Sam.
Sam was good to talk to. He just let me sulk about it all, how sometimes I wished I had a normal family. When I was done whingeing a good hour later, he asked me the best question anyone has ever asked me:
‘You wanna go live somewhere else?’
And I didn’t.