I love them. I don’t know why, but they are the characters who keep poking my brain, demanding to have their story written. Unfortunately, their story comes to me in flashes, flashes that I have sudden urges to write. So, I will eventually get their complete back story done, but it’s likely never going to be more than a collection of short stories of varying length, never a novel.
Here’s a story from their freshman year, when things begin. I posted Shane’s coming-out-to-Ryle scene already.
Ryle Salvador had spent the last six months trying to figure himself out, ever since his best friend since third grade, Shane Knight, came out to him. Ryle had casually asked Shane numerous questions about how he’d come to decide what his sexuality was, and he wondered if Shane was having suspicions about him. If he wondered about Ryle, he didn’t say anything, though.
But, it was watching Shane date a guy one year older than himself that really helped Ryle face the truth. He couldn’t fight the wave of jealousy that hit him every time he saw them together, and he was ashamed of how hard it was to hide his smile when Shane told him he’d been dumped after only two weeks.
“High school sucks,” Shane grumbled while they did their homework at Shane’s house a few days later.
Ryle glanced up from the English book he wasn’t really reading. “Yeah, too much work.”
Shane shook his head and threw down his pencil. “No, everything about it sucks. The homework, the classes, the people… Some idiot in history is calling me names now. And Joe’s a bitch.”
“I told you not to date him,” Ryle replied, glancing down at his book again. “He’s not your type.”
“How would you know?” Shane demanded. “I mean, sure, we’ve known each other for six years, but you’re not -”
There was a long pause, during which Ryle stared at page 57 of Lord of the Flies and took nothing in. Why was he so scared? Shane, of all people, should understand him.
“What?” Shane finally asked.
“Why did you think I asked you so many questions?” Ryle’s throat felt like sandpaper as he spoke.
“I guess I wondered… I just thought you were curious, since we’d known each other for so long…”
Ryle finally set the book down. “No. I had been wondering about myself before that. I just wanted to find out how to know for sure.”
Shane nodded and picked his pencil back up to play with it. “So… back to my point. What is my type?”
Ryle shrugged. “I’d say someone like me.”
“Someone like you,” Shane repeated, a frightened expression on his face.
“Yeah,” Ryle said, blushing.
“We could ruin what we have,” Shane pointed out quietly. “I don’t want that.”
Ryle nodded and looked away. “I know. I don’t want that to happen either. But what if…” He shook his head and got up from the kitchen table. “I’m sorry,” he stated as he gathered his backpack and his books. There were suddenly tears in his eyes, and he didn’t know why. He started for the door.
“Wait!” Shane jumped to his feet and cut him off before he got to the front door. “Ryle, please,” he begged. “You didn’t give me time to let it sink in. You just surprised me with two really big things.” His green eyes gazed into Ryle’s, and he suddenly shook his head. “You’re right,” he agreed quietly. “What if? I can’t lose this chance. But we’ve been friends for so long…”
“We’ll always be friends,” Ryle assured him. “If it doesn’t work out, we’ll know we were only meant to be friends.”
Shane nodded and took Ryle’s books away to set them on the floor. Then he pulled Ryle into a tight hug. Ryle put his arms around Shane, resting his head against his friend’s shoulder. He loved the feeling of the tender hug; the last time Shane had hugged him this tightly, they had been ten years old – best friends for only a year – and Ryle had been coping with his father’s sudden death. Ryle had felt devotion from Shane then, and he felt it now.
After a while Shane took a step back, and Ryle leaned close, giving Shane a light kiss on the cheek. Shane responded by giving Ryle a soft kiss on the lips. Ryle smiled, so glad to finally be giving them a chance at something more than friendship.
I’m aware of how much of a slacker I’ve been. It’s just that school has taken a major chunk of my time lately. I’ve hardly been doing any writing, and that is sad. I can’t read very much more than a few pages a day, either, which is even more sad.
But I’ve written some short stories about Ryle and Shane – sort of back-story short scenes, not really stories, I guess.
Anyway, here’s one short scene I wrote a few months ago. Enjoy.
Ryle Salvador stared at the map of Madison High School, trying to read the slightly smudged numbers that told which lockers were located in each hall. He checked the other sheet of paper he was holding, the one that told him his locker number and combination, but held no other clues as to how to find it.
“Want to look for mine or yours first?” his best friend, Shane Knight, asked, looking up from his own map and locker assignment.
“Whichever,” Ryle replied. “Why didn’t they point out what hallways had what lockers during orientation yesterday?”
Shane shrugged. “I thought our tour guide sucked. She was too concerned with running into her boyfriend leading that other group every five minutes.”
“I hope when I’m a senior I don’t have a stalker like that.”
His friend snorted. “Come on, I think I know where mine is, at least.”
Ryle followed him up the stairs, silently complaining about how useless their freshman orientation had been the day before. By the end of it they had both just wanted to go home and save finding their lockers for another day, unlike the rest of their classmates. That meant no one was there to point them in the right direction now.
They walked up and down several flights of stairs, found a few dead-ends, walked in a few circles, and made several wrong turns, but finally Shane held his papers up in triumph. “Found it!”
Ryle waited patiently while Shane tried the combination, and swung the locker open with a satisfying whine of metal hinges. At that moment, Ryle had a mental reality check.
“We’re in high school,” he stated. “It’s the real thing. Real classes and tests that actually matter. And a totally different social atmosphere, with bullies and cliques and all that.”
Shane looked up at him from the dial on his locker, a serious expression on his face. “Ryle, I have to tell you something.”
Ryle was startled by his friend’s tone. “Okay.”
“I’m telling you because you’re my best friend and I trust you more than anyone else in the world.” He took a deep breath. “I’m gay.”
Ryle stared at him for a moment, not sure how to respond. He was sure he was supposed to be surprised, shocked, upset, or something like that. But he wasn’t. In fact, he couldn’t see how it could possibly change anything about how he looked at his friend. And that was just it.
Shane looked like he might be sick. “Are you going to say anything?”
Ryle shrugged. “I don’t care, Shane. Well, I mean, I care,” he amended, seeing Shane go pale. “I’m just not bothered. You’re my best friend, and I want it to stay that way.”
Shane smiled and Ryle could see the relief on his face. “Thank you, Ryle. I knew I could trust you.”
Ryle returned the smile. “Can we go find my locker now?”
As they started back through the maze of hallways in search of his locker, Ryle found himself wanting to question Shane. How had he figured it out? Was he sure? When did he know? Had he told anyone else?
That was the first time Ryle ever admitted to himself that he wasn’t quite sure of his own sexuality.