Collingsworth * Andy Eisenberg MICHAEL waited for the gatekeeper to unlock and swing the wide, scrolled gate aside. He had walked from the small town to the boarding school as a scholarship day-student every day since moving to Collingsworth from Boston after his parents’ death from influenza when he was twelve. Nearly six years later, he was starting his last year of school, nearing the end of his residence with his mother’s indifferent cousin, and facing an uncertain future. Educated as a gentleman in the finer points of etiquette needed for a society to which he would never be admitted, and with no money to continue his education, he weighed his limited options. Thinking of the military career that likely awaited, he didn’t notice that the gatekeeper had unlocked the gate and was waiting for him to pass through.
Collingsworth * Andy Eisenberg summer holiday. None of them approached him, but it was something that he was used to. Barely tolerated by the majority of the student body, the day-students received little notice other than open scorn. Any positive attention they received was for their value in sneaking contraband into the school. Since Michael had refused to participate, he was largely ignored. Michael watched his fellow students, unconsciously keeping his eye out for a particular head of wavy hair the color of corn silk. He watched two fifth year men walking shoulder-to-shoulder discreetly grasp each other’s fingers in spite of the regular lectures that they received about the dangers of special friendships. Even as a day- student he saw his fellow students sneak off in pairs only to return with their navy and maroon school ties askew and their cheeks flushed. Living a sheltered life, he knew few details about what went on in those furtive encounters in empty classrooms and closets but knew instinctively that they were different than what he craved. His fellow classmates looked only for physical release; they would go on to marry and have wives and mistresses, the dark fumbling of their childhood forgotten. Michael longed for companionship, for one special friend.
Collingsworth * Andy Eisenberg His mind was brought back to the present when he saw a flash of blond hair in a group of students passing his chair. David Bennington was everything that Michael was not: gregarious, popular, well-off, destined for Harvard and a respectable career as a barrister. Michael’s cheeks pinked, realizing that he had just been thinking of pressing his body against his handsome classmate’s. Afraid that David would know his thoughts by simply looking at him, he lowered his eyes to his lap and willed his body’s reaction away before embarrassing himself.
Collingsworth * Andy Eisenberg pick out his clear tenor among the rest of the voices, and passed the time until Dr. Kennedy dismissed the choir watching David’s animated face, his blue eyes, the pink of his cheeks.
Collingsworth * Andy Eisenberg have never been caught.” Michael listened, unable to believe that his classmate was so bold. “I don’t believe this conversation is entirely proper, Bishop.” “What fun is there in being proper?” Joseph leaned in until their chests pressed together and Michael could feel warm breath against his ear. “The English classroom is empty. Come with me and we can be improper together.” Horrified, Michael was saved from answering by Dr. Kennedy. “Decorum, Mr. Bishop. That’s all for today, men. Back tomorrow at the same time.” * * * THE walk home that evening passed in fevered thought. Michael was puzzled by his own body’s reaction to Bishop’s unwelcome request, by the feel of a warm masculine body against his, by the almost unbearable yearning he felt when he looked at David. He had had the chance to spend the afternoon in David’s arms and he had allowed it to slip through his fingers, knowing that he would have disgraced himself entirely.
Collingsworth * Andy Eisenberg His heart beating rapidly, he opened the door and walked to Dr. Kennedy’s untidy desk. “Mr. Taylor, please have a seat. Tea?” “No, sir. I couldn’t.” His throat was so dry that he was having difficulty swallowing and could have used the tea if he didn’t fear that his stomach would rebel.