Where Every Boy Is Known and Loved

By Dennis Norris II

The classroom had no windows and every day one of the boys would close the door. Another hit the lights. In the darkness, they surrounded me, wanting to become men. In their eyes, I was nothing but the closest thing they could get their hands on. 

My name dripped from their lips. 

The blonde boy broke the circle, moving to the front of the classroom where I sat. He turned to face me. He leaned against the wooden desk where the teacher always sat. He spread his legs. He slowly unbuttoned the white shirt he always wore. His pupils never left my body. Then he cupped one hand six inches in front of his crotch, moving his hips back and forth, as though holding my head where it should have been. From him my name came loudest. I hated the way he made it sound—as though I serviced him. As though I was only there for his pleasure. As though he had every right to do whatever he wanted with me. He thought my very existence gave him permission: my skin, my voice, my softness.

I also loved the way he said my name.

Other hands, as pale as his, crawled toward me. They climbed my legs and arms, petting me, poking me, stroking me—telling me I wanted it, telling me they owned me. There were only so many hands I could swat away; but they swarmed me, telling me to let it happen. I also loved the way their hands felt—good, and right. I liked the strength and power in the way they touched me, the skin at their fingertips, at times translucent, going pink when they pressed against me. I feared them knowing this. 

Sometimes they howled like wolves or barked like dogs. They dropped to the floor and humped the brown carpet until they tired themselves, gasping for me, growling and chanting my name. I froze, staring at them—victim to their power. Enamored of it. 

Some days, the teacher would sit with me during free periods at a table in the upper commons grading papers, silently by my side. I wondered what he knew, whom he felt obligated to protect. 

Because before class he would knock on the door, announcing his arrival, pausing, giving the boys time to scramble to their seats. They posed, waiting as though they’d been born like that, sitting in those seats, their eyes on the blackboard, pens poised for note-taking. Once we were silent, he entered the room. By then I was invisible, just another boy with eyes on the blackboard. The teacher waited, silent, in the dark. Then, with his right hand, he flipped the light switch. He walked to his desk and took his seat. He pulled a book from his briefcase. He licked his finger, opened the book, and said, “Alright, boys. Let’s begin.”

Originally appeared in paper nautilus.