This morning I saw two boys kissing and I had to say these words

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This morning I saw something I’ve never seen before.

When I pulled into the parking lot at the park where I walk, two high school-age boys were playing basketball. At one point one of them lay down on the court while the other continued shooting hoops. Then he came over, lay down beside the first boy, and the two of them kissed. It was a long, soulful kiss, a lover’s kiss.

Then they got up and continued playing basketball. A minute later they went to their car, popped the trunk and put their stuff inside. One boy wrapped his arms around the other from behind and hugged him, laying his head on the other boy’s shoulder. Then they got in the car and left.

I honest to God almost cried.

At first, I couldn’t figure out why. Was I happy for them? Well, yeah, but not THAT happy. Was I envious of their happiness? Of course, but not to the point of tears.

Finally, I decided it was grief I was feeling – for all the boys I never kissed when I was their age. For the proms I didn’t go to, the homecomings I missed, or the simple joy of staring into the eyes of another human being.

For the life I didn’t live, because the world hated people like me, and I was terrified of that hate.

I realize by posting this I’m breaking the Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows rule, where never is heard, a discouraging word. I no longer care. To the people who’ve told me I’m gloomy, or negative, I want them to know I can’t be happy because I’ve lost so much, and now I’m afraid it’s too late.

I’ve gone to the events and attended the meetings. I’ve waved the flags and worn the T-shirts. I’ve even tried those ridiculous apps. People are polite but not interested, not in friendship or anything more than friendship.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I overshare. And yes, I have regrets. That’s me. Feel free to take it or leave it. But let me leave you with this parting thought:

If there’s a person in your life who’s like me, for God’s sake, tell them it’s OK. Let them know you love them. Tell them not to be afraid.

I should’ve been like those two boys, who’ve clearly told the world to eff off. I should’ve risked happiness.

I really am happy for them.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .

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