Take me back

Stuck08-14-2021, 1300 words

High school
Coming out

When Chet turned to him and said, “I have something to tell you,” Sol knew he was in for it.

It was after school and they were stuck in the closet. The sports supply closet to be exact, because Chet had dragged Sol into getting balls for the soccer team. 

Unfortunately, the moment the door slammed shut, the lock had also clicked shut. And it was the kind of door that locked from the outside, so the two of them were out of luck until someone came to get them. 

Leaning against the wall, Chet twisted his fingers and said, with the most nervous look on his face -

“I’m gay.” 

Sol blinked, stared at Chet, and blinked again. 

“But we’re stuck in the closet,” he said like an absolute idiot. 

It seemed Chet shared the same thought because he looked at Sol with eyebrows raised so high, they were going into his bangs. “Really? A closet joke?” 

“Um, yeah. Sorry,” Sol mumbled and looked away. 

Sol was supposed to say more, he knew that. Chet had just come out of the closet and that was a big deal. Surrounded by cones and balls, he’d said he was gay. Chet Chester was gay. 

It was the sort of life-changing, character-defining moment that deserved something better than a closet joke. Standing there in silence, Chet probably felt terrible.

“You’re not gonna say anything else?” 

Sol dared a glance at Chet and wished he hadn’t looked. Chet wasn’t leaning against the wall as much as he was slumped over, face turned resolutely away. The tips of his ears were red, jaw clenched so hard it had to hurt.

“I -” Sol tried and had to take a breath. “I think it’s… cool?”

The thing was, he wanted to say a lot of things. Sol wanted to be happy for Chet, the perfectly accepting straight guy with a gay best friend.

But it wasn’t like that.

The words wouldn’t come out of his mouth because they were words he wanted to hear himself. Because Sol sometimes thought about boys too, and never about girls.

Chet coming out made Sol self-conscious in the nervous, swooping, anxiety-inducing sort of way. It dug up something he tried never to think about because examining it would make everything crumble like a pile of bricks. Justin Bieber made him feel things and he wasn’t ready for that. 

So Sol stared at the ground and said again, “Yeah. It’s cool.”

Immediately, he knew he’d messed up.

“Oh, so it’s just ‘cool,’” Chet said, voice tight. He made air quotes with his fingers, motions quick and tense. “Chet’s gay and that’s ‘cool.’ Come on, Sol, is that it? I thought we were friends.”

“Best friends,” Sol said, quietly enough that Chet couldn’t hear. Two lukewarm reactions, one after the other, and Chet was thinking the worst of him right now. Sol let out a shaky laugh and rubbed his face with his sleeve. “Please, Chet, I promise it’s not you. It’s really not.”

“What?” Wide-eyed, Chet bent down and pulled his hand away from his face. “You okay?” Letting go of Sol’s wrist, he stood up and scuffed the floor with his shoe. 

Sol took a deep breath, head falling back against the wall. “Sorry,” he said. “Um, if it helps. I remember you confessed to me before.” 

Actually, it was the confession that made Sol question a lot of things, back when he’d made up an entire scene of them holding hands and eating ice cream. He shrugged helplessly. “Not that I, um, minded. But that was also sort of gay?”

“First of all, don’t bring that up. I never want to think about it again.” Chet ran a hand over his face, then gave Sol a look that was oddly searching. “But you didn’t mind?”

“Not really,” Sol said. When he remembered that day, it wasn’t awkward or painful or anything like that. It was just a thing that happened, Chet sitting in the nurse’s office, saying they should date with an ice pack over half his face.

They’d laughed it off as a joke, the result of Chet’s unfortunate concussion. But truth to be told, when Sol thought back on it, the only thing he regretted was that Chet took it back before he could respond.

He tightened his hands around each other and squeezed. “I was okay with it.”

There was a long pause before Chet spoke again. It was a relief when he did, bending down to sit on the floor next to Sol. “Whatever. It was a joke, you know it was a joke, right?” 

Sol nodded tersely. 

“Right,” Chet said. “But I guess a guy asking out another guy is kinda… yeah. You wouldn’t be surprised he’s gay.”

“I’m a little surprised,” Sol admitted. “It’s different putting it into words. Liking boys and saying you like boys… it’s different.”

“Oh?” Chet said. He shifted, crossing his legs, and stared at Sol with sharp eyes. “Is that how you feel?”

“No,” Sol got out before his voice failed him. His eyes flicked around the room, staring at the balls on the shelf before he could speak again. “I’m not talking about myself.”

“Okay, sure.” A smile was beginning to form on Chet’s face, slow and indulgent. Sol didn’t like how it looked, as if Chet thought he knew more about him than he did. 

Hands behind his head, Chet leaned back against the wall and hummed thoughtfully. “So like, you’ve thought of it before. What’s your type?”

“Gingers,” Sol snapped because he didn’t know how to lie. 

Chet blinked and Sol felt a rush of satisfaction at throwing him off guard. Then Chet reached a hand out to touch his hair self-consciously, so blatant that Sol found himself blushing too.

“I’m ginger,” he said like it was the first time he had realized.

“You sure are,” Sol muttered. Then, because he was great at self-sabotage, “Are you going to confess again?”

“What?! No!” Chet pulled back, leaning away from him. “You’re the one who said I was your type! Stop making it weird!”

“Well, you’re the one who asked,” Sol said sharply. Something about the way Chet drew back had stung. “What does you coming out have to do with my type?”

“I dunno, maybe you’re in the closet too!” Too late, Chet’s eyes widened and he winced. “Nevermind, pretend I didn’t say that…” He got up and fumbled for the door, yanking at the handle until it rattled.

Sol sat there, quiet as Chet laughed nervously. His fingers clenched, pulling at the sleeve of his uniform and yanking the thread that came loose. “You don’t have to leave,” he mumbled. 

He was dangerously close to an epiphany he was trying to avoid, but all Sol wanted was for Chet to let go of the handle and sit next to him again. 

“It’s alright,” he said, heart clenching. “I… I’m sorry. This was important and I ruined it by being dumb.” Before Chet could say anything, he continued. “Thanks for coming out. Thanks for telling me. I think it’s really cool you can say it and I’m glad I’m your friend.”

It came out in a rush of words he wasn’t sure made sense, but Chet seemed relieved. His hand had stilled, a small smile on his face. “You’re the first person I told,” he said softly.


“Yeah. Best friends, right?”

“Right.” Smiling at each other from across the room, the tension inside Sol finally started unraveling. “If… if someone’s mean about it, I’ll kick their ass,” he said. 

Chet paused like he couldn’t believe what he heard. “Sure, Sol,” he said with a grin, eyes lighting up. “You’ve got my back.” Then, almost shyly, he added, “And I got yours. So whenever you wanna talk about it…”

It made Sol feel warm and fuzzy inside, the fact that Chet was saying something so nice. “Thanks,” he said softly.

“Duh.” And with that, Chet turned around and started banging on the door, yelling at the top of his lungs.