Birds and Bees

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Story of Nathan

Domenica is seventeen and she feels weird. Out of touch. She knows she's weird, but she doesn't know what to do about it. The only one she could see understanding her is Aaron Goodman and that's because he is even weirder.

He's been in town for a couple of months now, going to school like every other kid, except he's not. He's brushed off social interactions from the beginning, bringing with him a sort of heavy atmosphere that prevents anyone from wanting to invite him to a party.

He's sort of dull and silent. He should look like your typical lonely nerd (Domenica included) but he looks like a stranger. More mystery. More handsomeness. She's sort of crushing on him, sort of not. She's noticed for a while that she likes girls better. She thinks it means she probably won't have a real and meaningful relationship in her life, like heterosexuals do in movies. She doesn't know how wrong she is.

His attitude is not the only thing that makes him strange. Rumors have sprung around him fast, describing him like a sort of wizard. He gets the weather to turn from a beautiful sunny day to a misty dimness. Frogs follow him. He speaks in weird tongues sometimes, to no one in particular.

By chance, or maybe because that's a job no one else in high school wants to do, they start running the Library Committee together. They help sorting books, making policies and posters, all things adults consider "learning experiences" which usually means anything someone is not being payed to actively teach you. From up close, Aaron is not that weird, mostly silent. Strange things don't happen nearly as much as they said around him.

They get quietly closer over the passing months of their last year. The alchemy is a bit off, not that strong, but it's there. Domenica decides they're gonna have sex and chooses a day when his parents are out. He has a bigger bedroom and he risks less because they're often away.

"Didn't you say you were gay?" says Aaron when they get to his room. She's sitting cross-legged on top of his bed, he's stretching on the carpet. This is not a mood for love but for curious exploration. It fits them well.

"What, I can't do both?" says Domenica.

He shakes his head. "It's not me you're interested in, but it's OK. I don't mind." He gets up, sits on the bed and leans in to kiss her. It's a chaste, timid kiss. He looks at her the whole time with a smile. She doesn't know what they are exactly, but certainly not lovers.

That afternoon, they enjoy sex and each other's bodies in a slow, gentle way, really listening to one another. Neither of them ends up in an orgasm and it's OK. Remembering that moment a few years later, Domenica will think that it's probably a better first experience than for many other girls, apart from the fact that it's not safe sex at all. They are young, they have too much time on their hands and they just don't care. There isn't a bright future lined up for any of them. There's a slow now, mildly unsatisfying but still rich in emotions and perspectives, but any kind of tomorrow is out of the picture.

They keep having sex once in a while like they would have a sleepover or a game of cards. It feels good, there are always new things to try and they both feel that the other deserves their trust on that matter. They don't know yet how rare that level of trust is.

Once in a while, the leaves dance around while they're doing it outside or the sun starts shining right on them, giving their skin a strange glow. One time a rabbit comes from under his bed and curls up against the bedside table. They have to stop and catch it. No idea of how it came to be here, but it's not frightened in the least.

One day though, while Domenica is in class, someone from the administration building comes looking for her. She is accompanied by a police officer. They go and sit down in the office of the administration lady at the cop's demand.

The officer speaks first. "Ms. Solune," he says, "I'm officer Doughs." He has a long face and a scrawny reddish beard. He looks like he's not used to worrying about a case. It's Brooding Heights: what could ever happen here?

Domenica, however, is starting to get pretty nervous. While she knows she hasn't done anything wrong, she did just get pulled out of class by the police. They haven't cuffed her, though. Did something happen to someone in her family? To Aaron? She hasn't seen him around school in a while. It's pretty normal for him as he wanders around and he still gets OK grades, but that's definitely a way to get in trouble, hanging out in the middle of the day when all the reasonable kids are away. It could be her grandma, always saying whatever she pleases, never backing down. What if she had met someone who didn't mind beating the elderly, this time?

"It's about you friend Aaron," says the officer. "Aaron Goodman? You know him, right?"

Domenica nods. What's going on? What did he do? What happened to him?

"From what his father says, he hasn't given any news in over a week. Do you know where he is?"

Time stops for Domenica. Somehow, she knows what happened now. He's gone, gone for good and he's not coming back. Without answering, she starts crying. It takes a solid hour for the police officer and the administration lady to gather the facts and conclude that she knows nothing. She last saw him 9 days ago and he seemed fine. She has to explain about him missing classes on a regular basis. This situation is nothing like the usual: if he goes away for awhile he always has a place to stay, and he always calls home. According to officer Doughs, Aaron hasn't called anyone and hasn't been seen at his usual hangouts.

But apart from that, Domenica has a gut feeling, something strong washing over the little clues. He's gone for good. That's what she's been crying so much. They weren't a couple, but they still spent a lot of time together and they liked each other. Somehow she knows she's seen the last of him. What happened? What made him leave?

As she dries her tears, she is asked a lot more questions she can't answer. She doesn't know other friends of his, or where he could have gone all these times he was skipping. He didn't seem any different, he didn't say any sort of goodbye, he wasn't preparing anything that she knows of. When they let her go school is over and she goes home.

She lays down on her bed, her head spinning. She's just starting to realize how much of an impact Aaron has had on her the last few months. Before he came around she wasn't feeling this only, but now there's a void. Is it even worth going to school tomorrow? Her mother and grandmother both come by and ask if she she has something she wants to talk about. Domenica hasn't been subtle with her pain and confusion. Locking yourself up in your room tends to be quite noticeable. Still, she's not in the mood to talk yet and she sends them away.

She drifts into sleep. Immediately, she's met with a strange dream: a centaur with red fur shows her the way to the garden, where her own tree has grown. It has no flowers yet, but a blueish fruit hangs from a low branch. It glows. It's warm to the touch. Domenica wants to pick it but the centaur, who is now a man in a red suit with a matching hat, stops her arm and tells her in a low-pitched voice: "Not yet".

When she wakes up she's crying again but for a very different reason. Just like she knows Aaron is gone for good, she knows for a fact that she's pregnant.


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