Continued from Chapter 2.
Greyson dreamed of himself as an adult. He was standing in a locker room in front of a full-body mirror, totally naked. He flexed. He turned, taking in his athletic body from different angles, admiring it. Then, he relaxed and stood still, but somehow, his reflection kept moving without him—flexing, posing, showing off. He felt his perspective dropping. When he looked down, he could see his body shrinking, losing muscle mass, body hair, maturity. He looked back at his reflection. It had not changed at all. It was still adult, still flexing and posing. It seemed to be mocking him now, taunting him with what he had lost. He balled his young fists and thumped them against the glass that separated his adulthood and childhood. His little hands bounced off weakly, ineffectively. He pounded them again and again as his perspective fell even lower, his old body appearing like a giant to him now. Suddenly, the glass cracked. Then, it exploded into a million fragments, and he flinched away from the shower of sharp edges.
Greyson awoke with a start as his body convulsed. Panting, he checked his face for blood where the glass might have cut him, but there was no blood, no glass. It had only been a dream, he comforted himself. He was fine now. He was safe.
As he calmed down, he became aware of some things that were wrong with his body. Below, he had rock solid morning wood, but when he checked his crotch, he felt a much smaller stiffy that he had expected. Also, there seemed to be something on his teeth. He slid the tip of his tongue across the top front row of his teeth, bumping along what he recognized as a line of braces.
His half-awake mind finally remembered what had happened to him yesterday and the day before. He remembered getting younger.
“How old?” he asked himself. The soprano tone of his voice was an answer in itself. He sounded like a boy. “Oh, no,” he groaned, putting his hands on his forehead. He was even younger again.
He shut his eyes and shook his head, as if he wanted to rebel against the day. He refused the impulse to get out of bed and take in this new reality. He tried to fall right back to sleep again, to retreat back into dreams where he could be an adult again if only in his mind. Sleep would not come, though, and he soon grew bored of hiding under his sheets, while feeling vaguely horny. He had to face the day, even if it meant being a child again.
He opened his eyes and looked around his room. It seemed as though his toys had multiplied since yesterday, taking up shelf space that had belonged to trophies and sports equipment. His football posters still shared the walls with anime and video game characters, but the subjects of the posters were more age-appropriate for the types of things his little brother enjoyed. In fact, if he had not woken up in here, he might have confused it for Ethan’s bedroom.
He sat up and swung his feet over, so he could sit on the edge of the bed. He stopped there instead of standing up in order to mentally prepare himself for the disappointment of discovering how short he had become overnight.
Examining himself now, Greyson noticed that he was still wearing a T-shirt, but instead of boxers, he had on red plaid pajama pants. His little stiffy made a pathetic lump in his crotch. Despite being small, it was still fully erect. Unfortunately, he also felt his bladder begging for release. “Great,” he said, realizing he had to deal with this problem sooner rather than later.
He stood up and sighed. He was so damn short, probably only as tall as Ethan now. He walked to the door and turned the notably higher doorknob to step out into the hallway. Then, he walked to the bathroom, while sensing that the journey had gotten slightly longer today. Through some miracle, the bathroom door was open. Ethan was nowhere to be seen. Greyson entered the bathroom and locked the door behind himself.
He dropped his pajama pants and took a seat on the toilet. He tried to mentally will away his erection, so he could pee. He saw how desperately small his stiffy was and how little pubic hair there was left around it, although he was grateful for every strand that remained. As the minutes went by and his dick refused to get soft enough to pee, he started to realize he might need to take more drastic action to fix this problem. “Well,” he said. “It worked last night.” With a sigh, he stood up and found the hand lotion. He put a bit too much on his palm, and began to try to relieve the pressure. After accidentally letting himself slip out a couple of times, he switched from a full fist to just his finger and thumb. As mortified as he was that he was now too small for his own hand, he found what little he did have was particularly sensitive, even more so than yesterday. It did not take long for him to feel as though he were approaching an orgasm. But, just when he felt himself about to come, there was a sudden knock on the door.
He stopped immediately and shrieked, “What!?”
“I’ve got to ask you something,” Ethan’s voice said from behind the door.
“Not now,” Greyson said, while cringing at how similar his voice sounded to Ethan’s.
He heard Ethan sigh and say, “Fine.”
Even after the interruption, Greyson remained hard and ready to go while his bladder felt even fuller. He waited until he heard Ethan walk away and then waited a little longer just to be sure no one was outside the bathroom. Once the coast was definitely clear again, he got back to masturbating. He pumped away while old memories began to resurface in his mind. Ethan disturbing him had reminded him of his middle school years when he would sneak off to this bathroom to secretly squeeze one out just like this. He remembered how panicked he had been when he heard footsteps in the hallway outside, how he would bite his lip to remain totally silent, how he had to balance the feelings of elation and shame over what he was doing to himself.
Then, it started, he came so suddenly and so hard, that it caught him off guard. Erotic pleasure blasted into his head with enough force to leave him momentarily paralyzed. He spurted out stream after stream of pleasure as he let out a pathetic little moan. He collapsed back against the toilet, feeling so overcome by it all that he was absolutely drained of energy as the orgasm faded. He felt a stupid smile form on his face as he sat in the afterglow. That had been amazing, the most amazing orgasm he could remember having, beyond even what he had felt in the shower yesterday. His hazy thoughts tried to make sense of it. Was it just better when he was younger? He considered that it might have something to do with being relatively immature compared to the mature sensations he had experienced. Maybe he was too much of a boy now to handle that level of pleasure as well as a man would.
He looked at himself to survey the damage he had caused. Most of the semen had landed on his shirt. At least one shot had hit him in the chin. “Ew,” he said as he wiped it off his chin and onto his shirt. Then, came the shame to go with the elation. He had made an absolute mess of himself, leaving him with some clean up to do before he could leave the room. But first, he needed to empty his bladder and “clean the pipes.”
A little later, with his bladder emptied, he stood up to take off his soiled shirt and wash his hands. Finally, he had to face the mirror he had unconsciously avoided until now. There was a kid looking back at him, whose face he had not seen for close to a decade. Yesterday, he had been able to spot traces of adulthood in the teen boy reflected back to him. Now, all those traces were gone. There was only childhood looking back at him, a boy just on the cusp of puberty. He clenched his jaw and spread his lips to look at his slightly crooked teeth and the metal wire that was slowly straightening them out. His mouth was a work in progress, it seemed. His whole body was as well, what little of it there was. There were traces of muscle, but his ribs stood out visibly under his skin, and his shoulders were narrower and lacking in bulk. There was no hair on his chest, and only traces of pubic hair on his crotch and armpits. He was reminded of Ethan. If he had not known better, he would have mistaken his own reflection for one of the kids his brother hung out with.
He washed his hands and his face and tried to fight off the panic growing in him.
After toweling off, Greyson left the bathroom, holding his balled-up T-shirt in his hand. As much as he hated showing off his boney bare chest, he was not about to put on a shirt that had become basically a semen sponge. That shameful piece of clothing would be going straight into the hamper.
He walked back to his bedroom, but halted in the doorway after finding Ethan, dressed in pajamas, crouched and digging around in a low drawer.
“What are you doing in my room?” Greyson demanded.
“Oh!” Ethan said, surprised at being caught. He stood up.
Greyson took a step back. His little brother was no longer littler than him. In fact, he estimated that they were the same height, now.
“Sorry,” Ethan said. “I tried to ask you before, but you were busy.”
“Ask me what?” Greyson said. He stepped into his room slowly, approaching his brother as if he were some type of dangerous animal. He had never thought of the kid as anything other than small and harmless. The realization that Ethan might be a physical match for him was unnerving to say the least.
“Well, you see…”
Greyson noticed what drawer his brother had been looking through. “Hey,” he said. “That’s my underwear.”
“Yeah,” Ethan said. “I need something to wear. All of my undies are in the hampster.”
“No way,” Greyson said.
“Just put on an old pair while you do some laundry.”
Ethan looked a bit embarrassed. “I’ve… already re-worn them all.”
Greyson did not even try to hide his disgust. “That’s just gross,” he said. “And, no.”
“But,” Ethan said. “You’ve let me borrow clothes before. I was wearing one of your shirts yesterday.”
“Maybe I have,” Greyson said, feeling a bit grossed out by the idea of sharing clothes with his brother. “But, lending you my shirt and lending you my underwear are not the same thing.”
“Why?” Ethan asked, sounding genuinely confused.
“I’m not going to spell it out for you, but the answer is going to keep being ‘no,’ no matter how many times you ask.”
“You never minded when I did it before,” Ethan said.
“Um,” Ethan said, nervously. He had just revealed too much. “Nothing. I didn’t…”
“You’ve borrowed my underwear before without telling me?”
“M-maybe,” Ethan said. “I didn’t think you would mind so much.”
Greyson looked in his drawer, feeling an impulse to burn everything in it.
“I made sure to wash everything before I gave it back,” Ethan said.
“Get out!” Greyson said, pointing to the door. “Now!”
Ethan sighed and said, “I’m sorry.” He walked towards the door, but stopped just when he was next to Greyson. “Hey,” he said. “Why aren’t you wearing a shirt?”
Greyson felt himself blush and tried to hide his balled up shirt behind his back. “N-none of your business.”
Ethan gave Greyson a knowing look. “Oh,” he said. “Maybe… I don’t want to borrow your clothes after all.” He left the room.
Greyson just stood there alone for a while, his face glowing red.
A short time later, Greyson was dressed in what he hoped were clean clothes and was carefully making his way down a seemingly taller staircase. Strangely, each step down made him feel a bit less sure of his footing instead of more. He realized it must have been because his new proportions were strange to him, making every movement of his limbs harder to calculate. If he had only gotten smaller, then he probably would not have struggled as much. The problem was that only parts of him had changed relative size and only slightly—an inch more or less, here and there, maneuvering seemingly larger feet at the ends of comparatively shorter legs. It felt as though he had to relearn how to walk down stairs. To be safe, he held the railing with both hands all the way down.
Back on level ground again, Greyson walked more steadily to the kitchen. Ethan was already seated at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of cereal. Their mother was nowhere in sight. Then, he heard the sound of the mirror cabinet closing in the bathroom. He saw that the bathroom light was on for a moment before it was flicked off. Then, his mother emerged from the bathroom, wearing her work uniform.
“Morning, Greyson,” she said when she noticed him staring at her. She walked up to him and kissed him on the top of his head. He just stood there, stunned at seeing how much taller than him she had become. “My shift is starting soon, but you can have some cereal like Ethan.” She walked past him to grab her purse from the counter. “I’ll be back this afternoon, so feel free to make some sandwiches with the lunch meats in the fridge.” She turned to Greyson and asked him, “Got any big plans for today?”
“Uh,” he said, realizing for the first time that day that he had no idea what to do next. Everything he had tried to get back to normal had done him no good, and he was not sure what to try next. “I don’t know.”
Ethan asked him, “What? Did you forget?”
“Forget what?” Greyson replied.
“We’re playing football at Stephen’s house. We were going to do it yesterday, but there was too much rain.”
“Oh,” Greyson said. “I see.”
“Is anyone going to be there watching you?” their mother asked.
“Stephen’s big brother will be home,” Ethan said.
“Okay,” she said, sounding less than thrilled about the idea. “But, be careful. You kids don’t have pads or helmets, so, only touch, no tackle. You hear me?”
“Yep,” Ethan said.
“Sure,” Greyson said.
“Good!” she said and headed for the door to the garage. She opened it and said, “Take care of each other, call me if there’s an emergency, and… have fun. Bye!” She waved at them, and they waved back. Then, she left and shut the door behind herself. Greyson stood there and listened as the garage door opened, the car drove off, and the door shut again.
“What’s up with you today?” Ethan asked him.
Greyson chuckled a little. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Oh-kay,” Ethan said and added a sarcastic “Thanks for clearing that up.” He turned his attention back to eating his cereal.
Greyson decided that he would think better on a full stomach, so he poured himself a bowl of cereal and ate silently across from his twin brother.
With their cereal done, the two of them prepped to leave, grabbing keys and shoes and everything else they needed for the day. As they laced up their shoes on the floor next to each other, Greyson realized he was only reluctantly following Ethan’s lead. He had no desire to play football with a bunch of middle-school kids, especially not when his life was disappearing more and more every day. He needed to do something practical to fix what was happening to him.
“Hey,” Greyson said. “I think I’m going to stay home, after all.”
Ethan gave him a curious look and said, “You know, I don’t care what you were doing in the bathroom this morning. I won’t tell anyone. Promise.”
Greyson blushed again and said, “No, it’s not about that.”
“What is it then?”
Greyson sighed. “I’ve got a lot of stuff on my mind. I need to try to figure some things out. Important stuff.”
“So…” Ethan said, trying to translate what his brother had said. “You’re planning on staying home alone, moping, while I’m out having fun?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“But, that’s what you’re planning on doing, right?”
“Not exactly,” Greyson said, but he had to admit his brother was mostly right.
“Well,” Ethan said as he finished knotting his shoelace. “I’m not going to stop you from doing what you want.” He stood up and looked down at Greyson. “Here’s the thing, you can stay home and think, or you can go out and play with your friends. If you stay home, do you really think you’ll find an answer to your problem?”
“Maybe,” Greyson said with a shrug.
“So, you might just end up with nothing from staying home, except for getting into a bad mood. On the other hand, if you hang out with your friends, you’ll probably have a fun time, and you might just figure out something while you’re doing it.”
Greyson could find no flaws in that logic. “I guess.”
“So,” Ethan said. “Let’s go. Come on.” He walked towards the garage.
Greyson finished tying his shoes and stood up. He went to catch up to his brother while wondering when the boy had become so mature.
Minutes later, they rode their bikes up a driveway Greyson had seen many times before. He had spent countless days at this house during his original childhood. It was the house in which James, his best friend, had grown up. To be here while being back at it in the body of a boy gave him intense feelings of nostalgia. He half-expected an 11-year-old James to come running out of the front door to greet them.
Instead, it was James’s 11-year-old brother, Stephen, who ran out. Greyson knew Stephen only as Ethan’s friend. Of course, Greyson realized that, in his current situation, Stephen was his friend now as well.
“Hey, guys!” Stephen said. “Come on. Everyone’s in the backyard.”
They followed him through the house while Greyson looked around for James, wondering what it would feel like seeing his old friend as a grown up from a kid’s perspective. They stepped through the open sliding glass door onto the patio. After surveying the yard, Greyson did not spot James around anywhere.
“Hey, Stephen, where’s your brother?” Greyson asked.
Stephen gave him a confused look and then exchanged a look with Ethan. “What are you talking about?”
“I thought he was going to be here.”
“Bro,” Ethan said. “I told Mom he was going to be here, so she wouldn’t be worried. Stephen is supposed to be hanging out at our house with our dad watching us. None of our parents knows where we really are or what we’re doing.”
Again, Greyson was amazed by his brother. He had never known Ethan to lie like this, to their own parents, even. “Oh!” he said, realizing that his brother was even more of a stranger to him than he had thought.
“We talked about this yesterday,” Ethan said. “Don’t you remember?”
“Uh,” Greyson said. “I suppose I forgot.”
Stephen asked Ethan, “Is he all right?”
“I don’t know,” Ethan confessed. “He’s been acting weird all morning.”
“I’m fine,” Greyson said. “Come on. Let’s just get the game going, huh?” He walked past them towards the boys already standing in the wide backyard.
There were half a dozen of them tossing around a junior-sized football to each other. At first, Greyson was confused why there were so many different ages represented by the boys. Then, after listening to their banter, he started to realize that, actually, they were all classmates in Ethan’s 6th grade class. Some of the boys were at least a head shorter than Greyson, and at least one was a full head taller than him.
“Puberty,” he muttered to himself, shaking his head.
It seemed that the lucky ones were already hitting a growth spurt, making them look almost ready for high school. Meanwhile, the unlucky ones appeared as though they were still too young for middle school. Greyson was just thankful that he and Ethan were somewhere in the middle of the group as far as development went.
Suddenly, the ball flew at Greyson. Muscle memory kicked in, and he caught it instinctively, despite it being thrown particularly hard. “Whoa, take it easy,” he said.
“Sorry,” the tallest of the group said. “I guess I don’t know my own strength.” He did not even try to hide his smug smirk.
Greyson found the laces with his fingers and took aim and threw a speedy pass right back at the tall boy. The ball dug into his gut, and he barely caught it while doubling forward and grunting. Shanking out a sore hand, he said, “Hey!”
“Sorry,” Greyson said, with a cocky shrug. “Don’t know my own strength.”
The tall boy tossed the ball to one of the smaller boys and approached Greyson.
“Blake,” Stephen said. “Take it easy.”
Blake, the tall boy, ignored the warning and squared up in front of Greyson. At this distance, Greyson realized that he had been wrong. Blake was so much taller than him that Greyson doubted that the top of his head would even touch the bottom of Blake’s chin.
Still, Greyson was not in the habit of being intimidated. Years of being tackled by much bigger men had driven that kind of fear out of him. He stood his ground and stared back up at Blake.
“Come on, Blake,” Ethan said, trying to defuse the situation. “We’re just playing around.”
“Want to wrestle?” Blake challenged Greyson.
“Sure,” Greyson said, ignoring the fact that Blake probably weighed at least one-and-a-half times as much as he did. There was a definite size disadvantage, but Greyson had something Blake did not: years of experience. Greyson had wrestled in the off season all through middle school and high school, and he felt confident he could beat a sixth grader, even if it happened to be a relatively giant sixth grader.
They prepared, crouching before each other. Before Blake could come at him, Greyson charged in and got an arm wrapped around Blake’s waist. Blake took a step back, but then he recovered and began to push forward into Greyson, which Greyson had been expecting. He shifted his stance backwards, letting Blake get off balance. Then, Greyson threw Blake over his hip, using momentum to send the larger boy flying in the air and landing on his back. Finally, Greyson dove in for the pin.
Ethan yelled, “Yeah, Greyson!”
Realizing he had lost, Blake groaned and said, “Get off me!”
Greyson stood up and backed off as Blake got to his feet. For a moment, it looked as though Blake might throw a punch at Greyson. Then, Blake softened and smiled and said, “I’ll let you have that one.”
Everyone relaxed and Stephen stepped in to say, “Right, how about we quit fooling around and get a game started.” He turned to Blake. “You want to be a captain, right?”
Blake nodded. “Of course.”
“Fine,” Stephen said. “I’ll be the other team captain. Let’s pick our teams.”
They took turns picking boys for their teams. Naturally, the taller boys went first. Greyson was picked up by Stephen, and Ethan joined their team the next round. Once they had divided up the remaining little boys, Stephen removed his shirt and the other boys on their team did the same. Realizing that they were the “skins” team, Greyson took his shirt off as well, even though he was less than thrilled to be showing off his bony chest.
“Who wants to be quarterback?” Stephen asked his team as they got into an informal huddle.
“Greyson’s got it,” Ethan said, confidently.
“Yeah,” Greyson said. “No problem.”
They broke the huddle and set up the goal lines on opposite sides of the yard with orange cones. Then, the teams lined up facing each other, and Stephen said, “Remember, we’re playing tag. Not tackle. I’m going to be in deep shit if someone gets hurt.”
Everyone nodded. Then, Stephen kicked off the game, sending the ball flying to Blake’s team.
Blake played quarterback for his team, his height giving him a distinct advantage when passing. It did not take them long to score their first touchdown. Blake was full of jeers and taunts, mostly directed at Greyson. Of course, Greyson did not let any of this faze him.
When the ball switched to his team’s possession, Greyson felt more comfortable than he had been in days. The smell of the damp earth and grass, the feel of the ball in his hands, the team of men (well, boys) surrounding him: he knew it all so well. This was where he was most at home. He could not help but smile.
Greyson began calling simple plays that he knew the boys could follow. After some of his teammates dropped passes, his brother volunteered to be a receiver. On the other side, Blake had started out on defense, playing center to chant out the blitz count after each hike. When it was clear that Greyson was not intimidated by his size or hindered by his pass defense, Blake started to guard Ethan. Blake kept getting closer and closer until he tripped up Greyson’s brother in what might have been pass interference or a simple accident.
Ethan sprang to his feet and shoved Blake back with both hands. “What the fuck?” he said. “That’s a foul.”
Greyson just stood there watching the confrontation, trying to remember if he had ever heard his brother swear before.
Blake shoved Ethan back, sending the boy falling to the ground. “Fuck you. That was no foul. You tripped.”
Ethan got to his feet again, his teeth gritted and fists ready, but before he could throw a punch, the rest of the boys got between them and separated them. Stephen stepped in to calm everyone down.
“Cut it out!” he yelled. “No fighting, no contact. If you guys want to fight, then you can leave right now.”
Blake said, “Eh, fuck this. We’re playing like a bunch of pussies. We ought to be playing street rules, not baby rules.”
“No,” Stephen said. “Someone’s going to get hurt.”
“Come on,” Blake said. “We’re big boys now. We can handle a little tackling.”
Some of the other boys chimed in to support Blake.
Realizing he had been outvoted, Stephen sighed and said, “Fine. We can tackle, but no hits. You drag people down. If anyone gets hit, that’s it. We’re done.”
“Fine with me,” Blake said.
The teams huddled up again, and Greyson noticed that Ethan was fighting back tears. Greyson looked over at Blake, towering over his team with arms crossed, while looking back smugly at Greyson. Clearly, he was looking forward to breaking that last rule.
“Hey,” Greyson said, putting his hand on his brother’s shoulder and looking him in the eyes. “You want to get back at him?”
Ethan nodded and sniffled.
“Here’s the play,” Greyson said. “You line up on the left, sprint downfield until he’s chasing you. Then, cut right quick. He won’t be able to keep up. I’ll hit you with a pass before he realizes what’s going on.”
“You sure you can?” Ethan asked.
Greyson smiled. “I’ll hit you. You’ve just got to catch it. You got it.”
Ethan nodded, a look of determination on his face. “Yeah, I got it.”
They lined up. Greyson called the hike and Ethan took off running faster than Greyson had ever seen him move. Ten yards down, he cut right, leaving Blake running down the field away from him. Greyson shot a bullet pass Ethan’s way. It hung in the air for a couple of seconds that felt stretched out to a whole minute. Then, the ball hit his gut, and his arms wrapped around it. As soon as he had a good grip on it, Ethan took off down the field straight to the endzone. No one on the other team even bothered to chase him. They just stood there dumbfounded by what they had just seen, a college level play from a pair of middle school twins. Even Blake looked more impressed than angry.
Ethan spiked the ball and Geyson’s team started cheering for him. Seeing the triumphant smile on Ethan’s face left Greyson feeling proud enough to cry. “Way to go, Ethan!’ he yelled and wiped away an actual tear.
After that, the game got a lot rougher. Jeans picked up grass stains as elbows and knees developed scrapes and bruises. Blake was surprisingly restrained. It seemed that he was enjoying the game enough that it overrode his desire to push the other boys around. He was thirsty for a fair win, but so was Greyson. The game was back and forth for close to an hour, when Stephen announced that they needed to wrap up soon as his mother would be home in a little while. They set a timer on a phone and agreed that they would stop the game when it went off.
The score was tied, and the ball was back in Greyson’s hands. Ethan managed to make some progress downfield, but Blake was pushing back hard, blocking a couple of passes going for Ethan. Everyone was feeling worn out and sweaty, and Greyson realized they would need to pull off something big to get to the endzone before time was up.
In the huddle Greyson said, “Everyone go long. Let them think I’m going for a Hail Mary. I bet Blake will go in for a blitz. I’ll get around him and go for a touchdown. Block for me if you can.”
“You got this, bro,” Ethan said, putting an arm over Greyson’s shoulders.
“Thanks,” he said, feeling genuinely touched by the gesture.
They lined up, and the ball was hiked to Greyson. As he had expected, Blake realized what was going on immediately. He waited at the line of scrimmage and began counting down his blitz. The two of them stared at each other and shared an unspoken agreement that they would go all out on this play.
Blake finished his count and started sprinting at Greyson, apparently not wanting to be taken off guard again as he had been when they had wrestled. Greyson stood and waited as Blake built up momentum. At the last moment, Greyson cut right and felt Blake’s fingertips swipe his ribs. Then, the race was on.
Greyson started with a distance advantage, but Blake quickly closed the gap with his longer legs. The older boy’s arm wrapped around Greyson’s body, but Greyson spun out of his tackle. The next time, he was not able to get free. He felt the weight of the boy start to pull him down, but he kept pushing forward with all the might his little legs could muster. Then, he felt other hands and arms on him. His teammates had come to help carry him to the endzone. The other team was there as well, and Greyson found himself surrounded by boys pulling him around in a tug-of-war. Still, he pressed forward, only a few yards to go. He let out a yell and fell forward, stretching his arms out to lay the ball down in the endzone. As he hit the grass, the rest of the boys tumbled on top of him.
“Touchdown!” someone yelled. Then, the alarm went off. The game was over. They had won!
Lying in a heap on the ground, exhausted, Greyson’s teammates started cheering. They patted him on the back and started untangling their limbs. Greyson felt himself blush as he realized how much contact he was making with their bare skin. There was nothing unseemly about what anyone was doing, but Greyson was reminded of the time he had first discovered the feelings he had for other boys, back when he had originally been this age. He had found he wanted them in a different way, something more than friends. Now, being back at that age of discovery, he tried to keep himself from getting excited by the contact.
Still, there was so much warmth in their triumph. It was the pure excitement of victory, not tainted by any concerns about records or careers. They had won, and that was reason enough to feel like heroes for a little while. It felt great. Greyson sat up and smiled.
When the other boys noticed his smile, their own smiles faded.
“Your mouth!” Stephen said, pointing.
Greyson brushed his fingers across his lips and looked down at them. They were red, wet with blood.
“It must be your braces,” Ethan said.
Greyson nodded, not feeling particularly concerned about cutting his lip. He had suffered and seen worse, but some of the other boys looked ready to faint. Blake had gone white and looked like he was about to puke.
“Uh,” Blake said. “I think I gotta get going.” He turned his back on Greyson, apparently too squeamish to even look at a few drops of blood.
“Hey, Blake,” Greyson said.
“Yeah?” He did not turn around.
“Good game, man.”
“Good game,” Blake replied, tersely, and walked away.
“Shit,” Stephen said. “I’ll get some paper towels.”
As Ethan helped Greyson to his feet, the other boys started to drift away with quick goodbyes. Soon, it was only Ethan and Greyson left in the yard.
“Bro,” Ethan said, getting under Greyson’s arm and letting it rest across his shoulders to help support Greyson’s weight. It was not necessary, but Greyson appreciated the help. “Thanks for coming out,” his brother said.
Greyson patted Ethan’s hand and replied, “Thanks for making sure I did. I really needed this. You have no idea how much.”
They walked back up to the house together and joined Stephen inside.