Authors: Charlie Winters
was intimidated. The walls seemed longer. The classrooms seemed larger. I stood at the helm instead of behind one of the chipped wooden chairs in front of me. Luckily, there were only ten seats; music classes never filled. It also didn’t hurt that the entire graduating class was made up of fifty-two students.
After the bell rang, I cleared my throat and stood.
“My name is Finlay MacAuliffe. Welcome to beginning piano. I realize that some of you are taking this class as an elective while all of the rest of the suckers are down in art. However, I still expect participation while you are here. This class is fifty-five minutes. All I need is fifty-five minutes of your time each morning. Are any of you experienced?”
A few mumbles and a little laughter rose from the back.
?” I amended.
One girl in the front shyly raised her hand.
I studied the call sheet in front of me. “Miss Anderson?”
She nodded. “I took a year.”
“Oh, wow. That’s great,” I answered.
“In second grade.”
“Well, that’s alright. Anyone else?”
“Let’s start with the basics. I’ll start with how I was taught. Get out a ruler and a pencil. We’re going to draw a piano.”
“You must be Finlay. Wait; is it Fin-
?” A petite woman with wild red hair stood in front of my table, her hands cupping an oversized mug of cream-filled coffee.
“It’s pronounced Fin-lee, but you can just call me Fin,” I responded with an outstretched hand.
“Fin MacAuliffe. What a cool fucking name. You Scottish or something?”
“Irish. I mean, my dad is. My grandparents still live in Cork.”
“Wow,” she breathed. “Now you’re even cooler. Mind if I sit?”
“No.” I cleared my throat. “Please.”
“I’m Eden Broyles. I teach English Lit.” She fisted her hand into a masturbatory gesture and jerked it a few times.
I cleared my throat again. “How long have you been here?”
“This is my third year. I’m twenty-six. Luckily, I look like one of the students.”
She didn’t. She looked closer to forty. But if there was one thing I had learned from my father, it was that you never guessed a woman’s age. Take how old you
they were and then deduct ten years from that. In Eden’s case, I still would have been over.
I nodded and chewed a piece of salad. “Mm hmm,” I mumbled.
“So, who have you met? Radcliffe? Pearson? DiFiore? Jesus, Matt DiFiore is the reason why gym class was invented. He’s our phys ed guy. I think he’s a doctor or something. I mean, like sports medicine or whatever. Not sure what he’s doing here, but I’m not gonna start asking questions. Most of the time, I spend my lunch period watching him work out. He runs laps on the track.” She shoved a few potato chips in her mouth. “He wears those shiny shorts, you know? The winter sucks because he runs indoors. Not like I can take my chips and park in front of his treadmill.”
I smiled at her, but remained quiet.
“Fuck… there he is. Don’t look, don’t look.” I turned instinctively and she smacked me on the shoulder (hard). “I said don’t fucking look.”
It was too late.
If there was a God, he made Matt DiFiore personally. Disheveled, straight black hair which appeared to be self-cut. Chiseled cheekbones. Tanned smooth skin. A white henley stretched over massive, broad shoulders which only covered as much of him as it could without tearing at the seams. It was an inch too short, riding north of his waistband when he reached into the refrigerator.
I knew I was staring. His lower half was covered by track pants with side snaps, but I knew that beneath those snaps housed the most glorious legs in existence. He put an apple into his mouth and bit down, using both of his hands to open a bottle of mineral water. As soon as he turned, a smile formed around that bite and he turned to walk… my… way.
He drew the apple out of his mouth and set it on the table before extending a hand toward mine. “Hey. I’m Matt. Sorry… DiFiore. I’m the—”
“Phys ed guy,” I finished, placing my clammy palm in his. “Hi.”
“You’re… MacAuliffe? I probably butchered that.”
“No,” I stammered. “It was perfect. You can call me Fin.”
Eden crunched on her chips and stared at both of us. I could feel her eyes searching the side of my face, but I ignored her, saving my attention for the man in front of me.
“May I join you?” he asked, already pulling out a chair.
“Please.” I cleared my throat for the fifteenth time that morning and squirmed in my seat, desperate to find a position that said
yes, I’m comfortable
“You never sit,” Eden responded with another crunch.
“There’s never anyone new,” he replied with a smile aimed at me. “You teach piano?”
“I do. I’m also helping in the theatre department – not that there’s much of one, from what I hear. I think they made that position up for me. Looks like they had one play last year.”
He took a bite out of his apple and chewed as a drop of juice dribbled off of his lip. Using the sleeve of his henley, he quickly wiped it away. “I know. I make the sets. I’m kind of good with my hands.”
I could hear Eden let out a quiet moan. Matt obviously did as well, glancing in her direction for a split second.
“So, we’ll be working together then. I mean, maybe. I mean, if they have a play this year.”
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
“You like football?” he asked, blowing his overgrown hair out of his eye with a single puff of breath.
“Um… I guess. It’s okay.”
“Okay? You came from Notre Dame, right? Come on, man.”
I shrugged. “I was a music major.”
He smiled and took a long swig from his water. “Well, I coach an intramural league. There’s a game Friday. You should come.”
“I have a thing on Friday.”
“Ah… hot date?” he whispered, glancing at Eden.
“With my mother.” I felt a flush of embarrassment creep over my pale skin. “Just dinner.”
He stood with a wide grin. “That’s really nice. Anyway, I’ve gotta get back. It was great to meet you again, Fin.”
I stood like an idiot, learning only then that Matt DiFiore was at least six-feet-four. Staring up into those blue eyes took effort; suddenly, I felt smaller. Weaker.
He shook my hand, holding it longer than necessary. “See you around.”
When I sat back down, the look on Eden’s face was priceless. “Hot damn. I thought you were, but now I know.”
“Now you know
?” I said quietly.
“That you’re gay,” she whispered back, not so quietly.
“And you, my friend, share my man crush. If we’re lucky, we can still catch the end of that workout. Let’s go.”
“Hey, Mom,” I said, pulling out my chair.
“You’re late,” she responded, tapping on her wrist at a nonexistent watch.
“You look so handsome. Did you wear that to school today?” she gushed, complimenting my shirt and tie combination. I knew the fitted vest was probably overdoing it for my first week, but I also knew that Matt liked gray. He had commented on a gunmetal colored dress shirt the day before.
“Yeah. Too much, you think?” I asked, suddenly self-conscious.
“Never. You look great. Even this messy hair of yours,” she teased, pulling at a long, caramel-blonde lock. “I love this color. God, why do I have to pay for that color when you get to be just naturally beautiful?” She threw her hair back dramatically over her shoulders.
I gave her a close-lipped smile and placed my napkin in my lap. “You
“Gosh, we are so complimentary tonight, aren’t we? Tell me,” she responded, clasping my fingers in hers. “How was your first week?”
I didn’t want to tell her about Matt.
“Nice? That’s it? How are the other teachers? You like the class… the students? Come on, Fin.”
“The teachers seem nice. I haven’t met everyone yet, but they’re all friendly so far. The English Lit teacher is very outgoing. We sit together at lunch.” I shrugged. “She’s okay.”
“You hate her.”
My shoulders slumped. “I
of hate her. But God, I don’t know. I need a friend. I can’t just sit by myself every day, you know?”
“I know, baby. Anyone else you could sort of glom onto? Maybe another teacher that she hates? That way, she might stop coming around.”
“Ugh. Because it’s prep school, I feel like the teachers are all like Mrs. Hughes, you know?” I replied, referencing our favorite British soap.
“I may not be a woman of the world, but I don’t live in a sack,” she squeaked with a flawless Scottish inflection.
“There is this one man.”
Mistake, mistake, mistake.
“Oh?” she whispered, leaning in close. “This one man? What’s his name, this man?”
“Matt. He’s the sports guy, basically. If there’s a sport, he coaches it, I guess. We only have basketball and soccer really, but he teaches the phys ed classes too. Oh, he also coaches an intramural football team.”
“Huh.” She took a slow sip of her white wine, a smile growing on her face. “Matt the sports guy, huh?”
“He’s a doctor, I believe.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I think so. That’s what Eden said.”
“And Eden is the horrible Lit teacher?”
Just then, the server came around to take my drink order. I ordered a mineral water, the same brand Matt drank every day for lunch. I smiled to myself, forgetting that I had company before snapping back to reality.
“What are you grinning at?” she asked.
“Nothing. I like him. He’s very nice.”
“And very nice looking?”
I sighed. “Yes, Mom. Very nice looking.”
She squealed and sat up straight in her seat. “Start from the top.”
“Can I have anything to myself?”
“No. What color’s his hair?”
“Black. Will you stop?”
“Black like dyed or natural? God, he doesn’t do that Just for Men thing, does he?” she asked, sucking in a breath.
“Yes, Mom, he does Just for Men. No… God. It’s just – I don’t know – black. Like really dark. He’s Italian, I think. Maybe. I don’t know. His last name is DiFiore.”
“Nice face. Blue eyes. God, this feels weird.” I picked at my cuticles.
“Stop that disgusting habit, Finlay. Body?”
“He has all of his limbs, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“That is not what I’m asking and you know it.”
I avoided eye contact with her. “He’s tall. Way taller than I am. Way bigger than I am. Are you quite done?”
“Yes.” She took another sip of her wine. “I can’t wait to meet him.”
I hadn’t seen Emily since Christmas break. It was time. She was my oldest friend, the one who knew all of my secrets. She oversaw my crush on Tom Garcia in seventh grade; making elaborate attempts to be sure that we were in the same place at the same time. She knew my weaknesses, my fears, my self-doubts.
When I had called and told her that I’d moved back (failing to mention that it was a month earlier), she was desperate to go out.
“Gay bar. Now. Tonight. Which one? What are you into? Muscle-bound leather daddy? Bear? Twink? What?”
I sighed. “I don’t have a type.”
“Yes you do. Everyone has a type, Mac. For example, I like my men small. Not like in the cock region, of course, but I like ‘em compact. Tom Cruise. Tom Hardy. Basically, men named Tom.”
“I don’t know. More Tom Brady than Tom Cruise, I guess.”
She laughed. “I’m shocked to shit that you know who Tom Brady is.”
“Duh. He’s married to Gisele. Anyway, I don’t know what my type is. I’ve been to a gay bar once and it was the worst experience ever. It was in some shady fucking neighborhood in Mishawaka and had a shower on stage. A shower and one guy practically jacking off for the crowd.”
“Did he soap up?” she joked.
“I didn’t hang around long enough to find out. I was embarrassed and left. I thought the clubs were supposed to be like… clubs. Like what you see on TV. Most of them are just gross hole-in-the-wall dives for cruising. I’m not into that.”