The secret was out of my body. So what if he saw. So what if he caught me. So what, so what, so what.
On my way from his room to mine I wondered if I’d ever be mad enough to try the same thing again.
That evening I caught myself keeping careful tabs on where everyone was in the house. The shameful urge was upon me sooner than I’d ever imagined. It would have taken nothing to sneak back upstairs.
While reading in my father’s library one evening, I came upon the story of a handsome young knight who is madly in love with a princess. She too is in love with him, though she seems not to be entirely aware of it, and despite the friendship that blossoms between them, or perhaps because of that very friendship, he finds himself so humbled and speechless owing to her forbidding candor that he is totally unable to bring up the subject of his love. One day he asks her point-blank: “Is it better to speak or die?”
I’d never even have the courage to ask such a question.
But what I’d spoken into his pillow revealed to me that, at least for a moment, I’d rehearsed the truth, gotten it out into the open, that I had in fact enjoyed speaking it, and if he happened to pass by at the very moment I was muttering things I wouldn’t have dared speak to my own face in the mirror, I wouldn’t have cared, wouldn’t have minded—let him know, let him see, let him pass judgment too if he wants—just don’t tell the world—even if you’re the world for me right now, even if in your eyes stands a horrified, scornful world. That steely look of yours, Oliver, I’d rather die than face it once I’ve told you.