I began to weave through the crowd, trying to avoid as many people as possible, shuffling my feet against the rubble on the walkway, staring at the ground as I walked. This was my first pride parade, I’d told my parents I was going to work on a school project, and besides, they were busy at work today anyway. I knew they wouldn’t find me here. I got into the queue behind a group of mates, laughing, talking, waving their blue, pink and white flags. I didn’t know what I’d expected to happen today. I suppose making a friend would be nice, somebody like me, so I didn’t feel so overwhelmingly alone all the time.
There was music playing, people holding up signs. Two teenage girls were snogging in the garden, unbothered by the cars driving by, the occasional honks they received. I wished I could be that confident. I really had to learn to stop being so affected by other people’s opinions of me. I took a seat on the pavement, leaning up against the side of the building, crossing my legs in front of me. The boy with the rainbow flag sat down beside me. I noticed for the first time a small drawing on the side of his hand: a pink, yellow and blue rectangle. ‘First parade?’
I nodded, my hands fidgeting in my lap. Was it that obvious? ‘Yeah. You?’
The boy nodded, a stud in his ear dangling back and forth. ‘Mine, too. I snuck out. Everybody here is too loud. And they talk about fucking dumb shit.’ He glanced at me, raising an eyebrow, holding out a hand. ‘I’m Avery, I like a soul, not a person, and it's stupid to put a label on it.'
This guy was slightly intimidating. I shook his hand all the same, desperate for a friend. ‘I'm Kyran, I like boys.' I’d never said it aloud before. It felt strange, but I enjoyed the feeling. I wanted to ask what he’d been smoking, earlier. I was too nervous, and it was none of my business anyway. I found I couldn’t stop staring, though, This guy’s whole demeanor was fascinating to me: the piercings, the nonchalance, the casual way the flag was swung over his shoulders. And here I was in my worn out jeans and faded tee shirt, wringing my hands together like a little old lady.
He noticed me staring. I jerked my head away, quickly, nearly giving myself whiplash in the process. Something touched my shoulder. Half of the flag dangled down my arm, the entirety of it folded around both of us. Avery pulled another slim cigarette (I realise now it was a joint) from the pocket of his shirt and lit it, letting the flames engulf us.
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