I get back to the house. Prissy is sitting in the living room. My aunts are giving her that look. They are giving her that judgmental look. It’s just a matter of seconds before they start talking shit about how stupid she is right to her face as though they knew something that everyone else didn’t.
Luckily, I beat them to the punch.
“Can I talk to her alone?”
I watch how my aunts react. Their faces swelling up with irritation. All except Priscilla. I look at Priscilla and she just seems devastated.
“Come on,” Aunt Priscilla tells the others.
I watch as they leave. They get up and walk out of the room going out to the porch to the hot summer weather to probably smoke and drink the 40s and talk shit with the other neighborhood ladies. I pull up a chair and sit next to Prissy. My cousin was always loud to the point where she blocked out everyone else’s voices. Now it was different though. Now she was completely quiet. It was as though she had just realized for the first time ever that there were other people that mattered besides her.
“He told me he loved me,” she whispers across the table.
A part of me is upset with her. She knew that money was mine when she took her ass out of town with my father. Now that she was pregnant he sent her back home on the first thing smoking while he was probably out with some other young dumb pretty girl. I can’t be mad at her right now. She was getting enough of that from the other women in our family.
“Of course he did.”
It’s sad that I think so low of my own father but none of this surprises me. Not anymore. I felt bad for Prissy. I push my chair closer to her. She starts crying almost immediately, throwing her hair on my shoulder and almost pissing out of her eyes. It’s so damn much. I don’t mind though.
“What do I do?” she asks.
“It’s your choice. It’s your body,” I explain to her, “Don’t let them push you into making any decision that you don’t want to make. But if you do have this baby…please. Don’t let him raise it. I’m speaking from experience here.”
“My mom would kill me if I had this baby.”
“It’s not her choice,” I respond, “Listen I get more then you know…”
“How the fuck could you possibly get it?” Prissy asks.
“Love is a weakness. It’s like you have a deck of cards and there’s one that is bent and broken. And so you build up this house of cards. And whatever direction you build it in you feel like you are going somewhere, but there is that one bent and broken card at the bottom. It’s too late to remove it so you are just hoping that it all doesn’t come crashing down.
“I know you, Desta. You and my brother are out there fucking girls not caring. It means nothing to you guys. You’ve never been in love. I thought I had someone who loved me. Someone who was going to take me out of the Bottom.”
“Prissy, I’m not fucking girls. I’m gay. And I think I do know what love is. I do know what weakness is…”
Prissy looks at me with shock. I don’t think she’s had any idea. It always blows my mind when people don’t have an idea. Her brother did have a different girl every other day. I had a lot of girls hit on me and I think Prissy probably thought I was having sex with those girls but I wasn’t.
Telling her about my sexuality hits her hard. But then she does something that I don’t expect especially from someone in the Harsh family.
“You support me. I support you. I don’t know what the fuck the last generation of this family has been doing…” she tells me, “But moving forward that ends here.”
It means the most to know that I have that support. I hug Prissy. I hug her and we talk. We laugh. We joke. We sit in that kitchen for what seems like forever and honestly in her darkest moment it seems like we’ve found a light.
And that light leads us right to each other.
She heads to sleep and I walk outside to see my Aunts. They are still on the porch, still talking. I know why they really brought me here. They wanted to talk me to talk Prissy out of having the baby. For some reason, they felt like I could do it.
“She’s keeping the baby,” I tell my Aunts, “And I’m moving back in. I’m going to go get my stuff.”
My Aunts have a look in their eyes. It’s full-on panic mode. I watch as they gather like bees swarming back into the house with Claudia leading the charge. I had enough talk with Prissy to know that it wouldn’t matter. She had made up her mind. It was her body and she wouldn’t change that no matter how many times they called her dumb or stupid. I knew I had to come back to the house. I needed to come back to be that support system for Prissy because clearly, she wasn’t going to get it anywhere else.
I walk off the porch but then I notice someone coming out of the house.
He smiles at me, “I’ll take you.”
The drive back to Santana’s house to get my things definitely is awkward. Prince doesn’t say anything to me. He doesn’t speak to me until we pull up to the house. What’s weird though is Prince has been looking at me. He’s been staring at me this whole time in the corner of his eyes. When he stops the car he looks over at me. The look he gives me is a familiar look. I’m wondering now where I’ve seen it before.
“I’ll wait here for you.”
“Thanks for bringing me man,” I state.
I am about to leave the car when he grabs me. He pulls me back in, “Wait. I heard what you said to Prissy in the kitchen. Thanks. Thanks for being there.”
“That’s what family does.”
“No. I’ve been in the Harsh family long enough to know we are dysfunctional as hell. That’s not what we do. That’s what you do. That’s what makes you special,” he explains.
He’s looking at me weird. He’s never looked at me like this. His eyes squinting down. He’s had bedroom eyes before. The stereotypical 90s light skin Rico Suave flirting that he did when we were alone that I never could resist. It’s like he’d written the book on how to be seductive. Then he signed it and handed it out to all his hoes. And I was one of those hoes…one all the way at the back. I’d known a million times what he was about to pull and I’d still let him do it. Willingly. This was different. This time he isn’t licking his lips while he looks at mine. One of his hands isn’t grabbing his dick through his jeans so that I know that he’s on swollen and ready to fuck me crazy. This time he was looking into my eyes.
“You acting weird,” I state.
He doesn’t reply. Not through words at least. He replies through his body leaning in. That’s when he does something I don’t understand. He kisses me. Not the hard, wet tongue deep down my throat wiggling around giving me a teaser of how good it would feel to get my ass eaten by him. No. There was no tongue at all. It was a tender…kiss. Lips pressed up against one another. Eyes only slightly open.
“I’m glad you’re coming back home,” he tells me.
“Prince I’m not coming back for you. You do realize that right?” I interrupt, “I’m leaving the bottom. As soon as I can.”
Prince looks shocked when I tell him that. He stares down at the ground. A few awkward seconds pass. They turn into a few awkward moments. Prince isn’t good at expressing his emotions. I want to leave the car but I know sooner or later he’s going to let it out. It just takes him longer than usual.
“You wouldn’t stay if there was someone who could give you the love you wanted…even if it’s here in the Bottom?”
I look over at Prince, “I would.”
“Good…then it’s settled.”
“I’m not talking about love with you,” I shut him down, “I love you Prince as family. You know you couldn’t give me what I wanted. Come on now. Could you really be down for just one person? You haven’t been loyal to a single girl since 4th grade when you got a gift from Yolanda O’Neil and regifted it to the new girl so that she could let you play with her pussy in the back of the school bus.”
“You are not Yolanda O’Neil,” he explains to me, “I care about you. More than family. I can change for you…if you let me…”
“I don’t want you to change.”
Silence again. Awkward fucking silence.
“You said you stay for someone who would give you the love you wanted,” he explains, “You weren’t talking about me.”
“You know who I’m talking about….”
“Fuck this shit hurts.”
Prince has broken a lot of hearts in his life. I think right now he feels what it’s like to be turned down. If I didn’t love him I would say this is karma. But I cared about Prince, even if he was a self-obsessed playa.
“I want you to support me,” I state, “With whatever happens with Santana. Get to know him. You are the only real man in my life Prince. You’ve taken care of me. I want your blessing to see what’s up with this guy. See if there is a reason to stay in the Bottom for him.”
“Fine,” I push away from him. I start making my way out of the car.
“Wait, wait, wait,” he states, “You have my blessing.”
I look back in the car. There is resistance there. But it’s enough resistance. It’s the kind of resistance that makes me smile. Just enough resistance to make me realize that maybe Prissy was right. Maybe the next generation of the Harsh family had hope after all.
I walk into Santana’s house. I find him in the dining room. Lights off and shirt off. In the darkness, I can make out his athletic figure with one arm up. He has on some basketball shorts and some sneakers. He has a smooth chest. The only hair on him is a happy trail that goes from his navel and down, down, down into his pants. He looks sexy as fuck when he turns over to me. His eyes a little low which probably is from the weed he’s smoking. It lets me know his mother and his grandmother aren’t home.
“Yes. Just came to get my things.”
“I packed them. By the door…” he tells me, “Figured you’d come back and say that.”
“I want to say goodbye to your mom and thank her.”
“Mi Abuela is sick. She’s in the hospital with her. I just got back my damn self,” he sighs.
Shit. I felt like crap. I should have been paying more attention to the fact that his grandmother was always in bed when I had come over. I walk over to him. I can see that he’s definitely down. I sit on the couch realizing that I want to be there for Santana. It’s hard being so close to him.
“I had to leave. I came home to dance. Y’know? Relieve some stress and shit. I made a routine. I want to show it to you.”
“Prince is in the car waiting.”
“Let him wait,” he explains to me, “I made this dance…for you.”
I’m confused. He doesn’t explain it in words. He walks over to the radio and the next moment he’s playing a song.
Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
It’s the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I’ve gotta let it go
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
As the music blares through the speaker he dances in the darkness. Moonlight trickles down through the curtains onto his chest. His body glistens. Santana glides. His whole body is speaking to me as he starts Waving. Waving is when the dance gives the illusion that there is a wave of energy passing through their body. He isolates certain muscle groups. Stops. Glides across the floor. Stops. He goes into wrist rolls gliding across the floor back towards me again until he’s right in front of me. Stops. He does stomach roles and he’s so precise that it seems like he’s isolating every one of his popping ass abs to move on command. I’ve never seen someone with such control.
I can’t keep my eyes off of him.
And the weird thing is…he can’t keep my eyes off of me either. He’s rolling. He’s locking. He stops and somehow he dances himself right onto my body in the chair. His chest inches away from mine. His legs separating my thighs. His breath is up against my lips.
And that’s when he stops.
And the music stops.
Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
We found love in a hopeless place
“I was having a hard time explaining to you how I felt in words,” he admits, “So I chose to dance instead.”
I laugh, “Yeah you are an amazing dancer. Speaker…not so much.”
He laughs back but then puts his hand on my face. In a minute we are serious. Real serious. There is no joking here. There is no laughing. We are friends that have realized something about one another. That something scares the fuck out of me.
“How about I stop talking and show you?”
That’s when he starts kissing me hard. He starts kissing me in a way that lets me know one thing that is very, very clear.
Desta. I’m in love with you.
The next day things are just weird. I am in my locker.
“What the hell happened to you last night?”
I turn and see Prince standing there.
“I’m sorry. I text you and let you know that you could leave…”
“You stayed over his house?” Prince asked, “Did the two of you—-”
We hadn’t had sex. I know Prince is bothered by it though and I could confirm to him that we didn’t have sex but it was none of his business. The truth was he just danced for me. Santana just danced for me all night and it was magical.
“Prince that isn’t any of your business. You said we’d be supportive.”
“I’m trying,” Prince states, “It’s just… I need something get my mind off of you. I’m just…ugh…”
With that Prince walks away. No. He storms away. I hate the fact that this is hurting him but I love the fact that I spent the night with someone who was really into me and I was really into him. I remember how Santana held me last night.
When I get to our last class of the day Santana is just looking up at me. His eyes glued on me. He smiles and bites down on his lip as he walks past.
“Hey, you…” I whisper, “I still need to come back over and get the rest of my things…”
“You can leave some stuff at my house.”
The class is about to start. Everyone is getting settled in at that moment. That’s when I notice what Santana is doing. He pulls up a seat next to me. I’m kind of shocked when he does it. I’m kind of shocked when he sits literally right beside me. This is where Prince usually sits. The other people in my crew look just as confused as I am when Santana does what he does.
“You don’t mind, do you?” he whispers over to me.
“People may start thinking things…” I tell him.
“They’d be right?” he states, “So let them think it. We’re gay. Fact. I’m trying to be your boyfriend. Facts….”
He laughs. I look over at him. Santana is being really bold right now. Ridiculously bold. I lean over. Prince hasn’t gotten to class yet. I think it was partially because of what happened earlier. I wouldn’t be surprised if he cut school altogether. The other members of the Suwoo gang are there though. The looks they are giving Santana right now are straight WILD. It’s fucking scary. I look over at Santana wondering if he knows what he’s doing even by sitting this close to me in front of everyone. I’m nervous.
But then again I’m fucking excited.
“Did you say the b-word?” I asked.
I didn’t think it was possible in the Bottom. Fucking other guys on the low…yeah, that was possible. That happened a lot more than you’d expect. But boyfriend? Seriously?
I look over at Santana somewhat amazed. Here was the finest guy in school telling me that he was interested in being my boyfriend.
“I let Rosa know before class.”
“Let her know what?”
“It’s over and I’m falling for someone else.”
Just then Rosa walks into class. She walks right into class and walks up to Santana. I’m shocked when she does something that no one is expecting. She slaps Santana. She slaps him in front of the whole class.
“Yo!” I bark at her getting attention from everyone else in the class who hadn’t heard the smack.
The class roars with ratchet shouts of “OH SHIT!” and “BURN!” I can tell it’s embarrassing for Santana and I’m pissed she would walk in here and do something like this.
Santana is so embarrassed he just sits there. Rosa looks even more embarrassed though. I watch as she turns around and runs out of the classroom. Tears are streaming down her eyes at this point. She looks completely in shock over what just went down. I feel beyond bad for her.
I don’t know why I get up and chase after her out of the class. A part of me is mad she struck Santana and I know he’s not going to go after her out of respect for me. Another part of me is just feeling sad for her.
I find Rosa by the bathrooms leaned over.
She raises her eyes and they are red with tears.
“I’m sorry,” I state.
“He wrote me a letter,” she explains, “He told me he’s in love with someone else. Then he says it’s not another girl. What does that even mean? Is he saying—”
“Listen he’s bad with words…”
“You have been hanging out with him a lot…”
“I didn’t turn him gay, but I—-”
“No not you,” she states, “It’s that boy. He approached me. He said that he was Santana’s ex and that Santana was still in love with him. I didn’t believe him. I didn’t…”
Holy shit. Santana’s ex-had tried to out him to Rosa? My mind is fucking blown.
I watch at that moment as Rosa turns and starts walking…no running somewhere.
“Rosa. Where are you going? Rosa!”
I’m chasing her down. I want to just calm her down and be there for her. It sucks that she doesn’t know I’m the guy he is having feelings for but at the same time it was Santana’s ex who was the cause of putting suspicion on himself.
“He’s in here…I saw him walk in here.”
That’s when I see her walk into the boy’s bathroom. She has all this rage in her eyes. It’s clear that she’s ready to go confront Santana’s ex.
“You can’t go in there Rosa!”
I try to stop her chasing her down into the bathroom and noticing she is stunned completely still in the bathroom. Her body is completely frozen.
I’m almost completely shocked when I see what is happening.
He has Santana’s ex-bent over on a sink and is plowing his dick into him over and over.
The class is over and I look through my phone. I try to text Rosa. I even try to call her. Nothing. Nothing at all. I send her a text asking her to meet me at my house so I can explain things to her. I feel bad about writing her a letter. I realize that was foul. I just felt as though I’d get all tongue-tied in person so I left the letter in her locker hoping that breaking up with her that way would be the best option.
I regret it.
Until I see his face.
Desta. He’s sitting outside the school. He is seeming to be waiting for me. When I see his face I know that it’s all worth it. Sure I still had to fix things with Rosa and do right by her but I didn’t regret my choice.
I was falling hard for this boy. Ridiculously hard.
“Waiting for me?” I ask him.
Last time he saw me I was getting slapped by my ex-girlfriend. I desperately want to sweep that thought under the rug.
“I can’t go with you,” he states, “I got to wait for Prince.”
I was trying to be understanding with this Prince thing but I knew this was something I was uncomfortable with. I knew they had sex. I knew sooner or later when we got in a relationship, I’d have to let him know that he would have to set some limitations with Prince. It was clear that Prince was in love with him. It was also clear that Prince would throw me under the bus and drive over me several times to get at Desta. Now that Desta was getting closer to me, Prince was bothered by it. And I couldn’t have that.
“We need to talk,” I tell him, “One on one. How about I bring your things to you later tonight. I can borrow my mom’s car.”
He looks concerned, “To the eastside.”
“If you’re going to be my boyfriend then you need to stop thinking I give a fuck about eastside or westside. Wherever you are is where I belong,” I state.
He smiles. I knew it would make him smile. I’m not kicking game to him either. I mean it. I wasn’t in M83 for a reason. That reason was that it would make things odd with Desta. They were responsible for his mom’s death and I didn’t want anything to do with them. I wasn’t a snitch, otherwise, I would have gone to the fucking cops by now about it. Truthfully, I was still considering it even though I knew Desta would probably be against the snitch lifestyle also.
“I want you to come over,” he explains, “Prissy told me she would let us use her room to hang out.”
“Wait she knows?”
“I told her about me,” he states, “I told her about you. We can trust her though. We can have some one-on-one time. There is something I need to talk to you about. In regards to your ex. He’s messing around. Maybe we should discuss that now actually…”
“I don’t give a fuck about my ex.”
“Not Matias. He was cheater and a liar.”
“He cheated too?”
He looks confused, “On YOU. Has he seen what you look like? Is he legally blind? I would never cheat on you.”
I look over at him. The way he says it makes me believe it. I can’t believe I’m putting my guard down for another guy. I remembered the hell Matias put me through. I remember always feeling like I wasn’t good enough. All these people telling me I’m sexy and I’m handsome. I’m this and I’m that. The only person’s opinion I cared about was Matias and I’d found him multiple times sucking dick or getting fucked every time I was out. And the fucked up part about it is I stuck it out with him because I thought I was so in love.
When he set me up to take the fall for him for the drugs it was the last and final smack to the face. My entire life fell apart. I lost the dance. I lost everything. I had to move to the Bottom. So yeah. I didn’t think I’d ever let another guy back in.
And then I met Desta and everything changed.
“I believe that, “I admit, “Damn I want to kiss you right now…”
Too many people. Way too many people around. Desta looks over at me, “Tonight you can have me how you want me. I promise you I will never play you like Matias. Ever. I know he’s a piece of shit. Tonight I’ll show you exactly what that means.”
Desta gives me a stare. It just hits me. Prissy was giving up her room. Things had gotten so heated last night. My dick was hard the entire night with him. I had tried to have sex with him but he said he wanted to wait. I respected his decision. It looked like he was waiting for the time to be right. Maybe he was waiting to see if I was serious about breaking up with Rosa. It’s clear that now he knew that I was very serious he really meant it.
And it was time to let him know just how serious I was.
“Desta. Will you be my boyfriend?” I ask.
“Oh shit, I’m falling.”
I notice he falls on top of me knocking me over. As he falls he quickly kisses me. Clever ass. His lips press up against me hard. It’s only for a second but it means everything when he does it. My heart is racing knowing that he would risk everything just to kiss me.
“YO DESTA!” I hear a voice call out.
“Shit I got to go,” he says getting up off the ground, “I’ll see you tonight. And the answer to your question is yes. Hell yes.”
I’m on cloud 9 as I get back to my house and start packing up his things. I know I shouldn’t be especially when I get a text from Rosa telling me that she’s outside of my house. I’m in such a good mood. I had a fucking boyfriend now. Not a cheater or a liar like Matias. But someone real. I realized now that maybe Matias was just a fluke. Maybe there was hope to find love with another guy. Look at Coach Cornelius. He managed to do it.
Maybe I could as well.
I try to wipe the smile off my face and go outside. I knew this was a conversation I had to have. I didn’t want to but I owed Rosa that much to have this conversation with her. I owed her an explanation about everything.
As I approach Rosa is already guarded.
“I’m sorry about the letter,” I immediate start, “I’m sorry about everything. I just wanted to get everything out in a way that makes sense. I’m horrible at those kinds of things—-”
It’s not like I could dance to express myself like I did with Desta. Ain’t no dance in the world going to ease the pain of someone breaking up with you especially if they were really into you. I knew Rosa was into me and I knew that I had to break it off with her. It was long overdue.
Rosa shakes her head, “You going to see him? Aren’t you?”
Him? I look over at her face. Fuck. I remember Desta chasing after Rosa when she slapped me. I was so stunned that I just sat there and let it happened. I wasn’t ready to face her so I didn’t chase after her.
I’m shocked that Desta told her about us. Then again he did tell Prissy about us as well. Maybe he was just being open. It makes me uncomfortable but at the same time, I’m so into Desta at this point that I’m willing to admit to it.
“Yeah, I am.”
“You love him?” Rosa asks.
I nod, “I’m getting there.”
Rosa shakes her head, “He’s not right for you, San.”
“Listen, Rosa, I know this is hard for you. I know that—”
“I’m saying this as your friend,” Rosa explains, “Not your jealous ex. I am not one of those hateful bitches. If being with a guy is what makes you happy then I’m glad you told me instead of leading me on like most other guys would have. And our friendship…that shit was real too. I care about you and I don’t want to see you making a mistake for a guy who isn’t worth it.”
I knew Rosa. She was one of the nicest people I knew. It wasn’t like her to talk shit about anyone. And I was pretty sure that she actually liked Desta when it came down to it.
“He was getting fucked,” Rosa tells me, “By Prince.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. My heart drops at that moment. This wasn’t happening to me. This couldn’t be happening to me. Not again. I was ready to fucking snap. All I could think about was that I couldn’t take this. I was ready to fucking snap.
“It was probably old,” I state, “He’s with me now. That’s all that matters.”
“Old? It happened today. He was enjoying it. He even kept going after saying he really didn’t give a fuck about you.”
Tears are rolling down my face at this point. Fucking tears.
This was Matias all over again.