Then came the night that changed everything. It was the last weekend of summer, our final summer of high school and we wanted to make it last forever.
We paid a stranger outside the little town general store to buy us a bottle of whiskey and a packet of sour mix.
Then we rode our bikes to the football field behind the school, poured the packet into the bottle, shook it up, and had our first taste of hard liquor. We rode back to his house, where we’d planned to camp out in a tent we’d already pitched in the woods behind his back yard.
Most of the rest of that night is a blur to me now. I know we became giddy and playful and there was a childish game of tag in the woods. All I can recall vividly is a moment: We’d been running and chasing each other and, breathless, we’d fallen upright side by side, backs against a huge old oak tree. Suddenly, he turned to face me, his eyes serious as they searched into mine.
“Are we … are we queer?” In that moment, with the word finally spoken, I froze in panic. If he had to ask, could I have been wrong all this time, that what we were was more than a childhood game? And then I knew what the answer had to be, if I were to keep him in my life.
“Of course not, silly!” I broke away and the chasing game continued. But my moment of hesitation had answered his question with the truth. And our childhood had ended.