The desks in Mr Fell’s class ran along the perimeter of the room, with a small island in the middle. That’s where I sat, mindlessly copying notes from the overhead projector or fighting with every fibre of my being to stay awake. Mr Fell had a voice that would give general aesthetic a run for its money. Today it’s where I would be frozen like a cowardly wretch.

Mr Fell was blessed with only being two doors away from the staff room, something he liked to utilise at every possible occasion. We didn’t care. A teacher leaving a class unsupervised was the school equivalent of winning the lottery. Although today I would wish I hadn’t played.

“Here James, is it true you kissed a fella last night?”

The class fell silent and I froze.

It was like I’d been clubbed with a cricket bat. I didn’t need to see my attacker; I knew who it was. It was Keith. Even at fifteen he was six feet tall and barrel chested; physically years beyond his peers but mentally a decade behind them. This was no innocent question; it was an accusation and it was designed to embarrass and belittle with a cruel efficiency.

“Did you?” Keith’s voice was already deep and authoritarian and in the silence of the class it seemed to boom forever.

I kept my eyes fixed on the notepad in front of me like it was the most interesting thing in the world. I pretended not to hear the question. I could feel my face redden as if a thousand spotlights had been focused on me alone, trying to sweat the truth from my pores.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. FUCK. On the outside I was frozen red, but my mind was in turmoil. I was in a silent distress, trying to think of something that could buy me some time. Why is everyone so interested in my private life? The novelty of being the only gay in the village.

“Well? You can tell us.” Ironically this was the only subject he wouldn’t drop. I prayed something would happen, that a bomb would go off, that his head would explode, that the ground would swallow me, anything.

“Did you kiss a guy? Are you gay?” blow after verbal blow.

I must’ve looked so pathetic, like a small animal being kicked repeatedly. My only line of defence was freezing up and pretending like nothing was happening. My hands were so wet with sweat it was a wonder I could still hold my pen.

“Fuck up, Keith.” it was a voice, but it wasn’t mine. “What if he did? What’s it to do with you?”

There was laughter. It wasn’t the response they wanted, but it was one they settled for. The heavens had opened and delivered me a guardian angel in the form of Jenny from Spanish class. We weren’t friends, we just happened to share a seating arrangement. Whatever compelled her to stand up that day and say something, I will be eternally grateful for it, for it was enough end the inquisition about my first kiss with a boy.

Writing Prompt — 500 word scene fictionalising a moment from our life. Names have been changed but everything else is true. I had originally picked a moment form earlier childhood and stretched it until it no longer served the purpose of the original exercise.