todd gets home for winter break first.
he’s uncharacteristically … happy, more than eager to tell his dad how exams and the first few months at his new school went. but he’s bouncing his knee, checking the clock. tapping the table, checking the clock. “what time is jeffrey supposed to be home, again?”
“five, dear. what’s got you so excited to see him?”
“nothing.” todd answers too fast, and his mother just shakes her head fondly. “I’m gonna go read.”
nothing. nothing, except he’s got a boyfriend now.
once in his room, he pulls out a scrap of paper and reads it over, tracing the jagged side with his finger.
call me and write:
theres a number and address written below, in much neater print than the first five words. neil loves him. neil wants to hear from him. neil kissed him after handing him the note, said “I’m gonna miss you.”
boyfriend. todd doesn’t think the word will ever get old. maybe it’s silly, but he lets himself have it. four months in to his junior year, and todd anderson has got a boyfriend. he needs to tell someone.
jeff does get home at five. todd helps him settle in, and his parents do, too. then they sit around and talk for a while, all four of them, until mrs. anderson leaves to make dinner, leaving three. todd quickly gets bored of whatever his dad and older brother are talking about, and excuses himself again.
call me and write:
then it’s dinner, the family talks some more, then finally, finally, todd follows jeff to his room and asks if he can come in. he says yes, of course, and once the door is shut, “what’s up with you?”
“what? nothing’s up. i dont know what you’re talking about.” todd climbs onto his bed, sitting up and crossing his legs and trying to contain himself a bit longer. jeff looks down at him, unconvinced.
“mhm. nothing. how’s welton?”
“good. how’s college?”
“fine. i won’t miss my roommate the next couple weeks. you?” jeff sits down in his desk chair, leans back and watches as todd makes a big production of sighing, looking to the side. he looks back to jeff when he answers.
“that’s terrible. you know, mine’s my boyfriend.”
“your - what!? since when?” jeff sits up and, and todd laughs, and all his giddiness starting to bubble over.
“last week! since last week, after his show. he starred in henley hall’s show.”
“do i know him?”
“i don’t know. neil perry?”
“neil perry. junior neil perry? i do!”
“of course! shit, todd. he’s your roommate? your boyfriend?”
“you’re lucky. he’s cute.”
“what, what do you want me to say? i remember him and i hate him? break it off with him this instant?” they’re both laughing now.
“shush! shush. what about you? you find anyone?”
“no. everyone in college sucks. don’t bother looking for someone in college.”
“alright, i won’t. i guess I’ll have to stay with neil til then.”
he tries to say it as a joke, but jeff looks at him softly, and, oh no. he can feel the mood start to shift. “you really like him, then?”
todd sighs. he can’t decide if he wasn’t ready for this part of it, or if it’s all he wanted to get to. “yeah. i do. and - and i think he likes me, too.”
he absently runs a hand over the jagged side of the note in his pocket.
call me and write:
“that’s good. that’s real good. what’s he doing over winter break?”
“oh, I’m sure he’s miserable. his dad wouldn’t even like him acting. he didn’t know about the show. i don’t know how he pulled it off. and he’s an only kid, so he doesn’t have … this.” todd gestures between them. “you gotta remind me to call him.”
“i don’t think I’ll have to.”
“shut up.” todd says, but it’s soft. he doesn’t quite know what to do with it.
“well, tell me about him. about neil. i knew him as a student, but we never really talked. I’d love to hear about him. and i can tell you want to.”
todd blushes, pulls his hand out of his pocket and says, “fine. if you insist.”