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Poem: "Straight as an Arrow" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Straight as an Arrow"
This poem is spillover from the August 5, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from technoshaman and DW user Helgatwb.  It also fills the "romance freestyle" square in my 6-11-14 card for the Fanbingo fest.  This poem belongs to the Antimatter/Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: starcat_jewel, Anthony & Shirley Barrette.

176 lines, Buy It Now = $88
Amount donated = $23.50
Verses posted = 13 of 58

Amount remaining to fund fully = $64.50
Amount needed to fund next verse = $1
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2

Straight as an Arrow

On Sunday, Stan invited Lawrence
over to his house for studying and supper,
and Lawrence -- somewhat hesitantly -- accepted.

They sat in Stan's bedroom,
going over his math homework
and Lawrence's social studies,
books spread all over the bed.

Stan's three little sisters
shared the master bedroom,
their giggles floating in
through the open doors.

In the kitchen below Stan's room,
his parents were making lasagna,
voices rising and falling as they worked.

Lawrence couldn't get over
how strange it sounded,
a house full of happy noises.
His was either quiet or fighting.

He finished his last assignment
and looked up to see that Stan
had also completed his math and
was flipping through a photo album.

Stan's blunt fingers traced over
images of Angelica laughing,
tumbling in her cheerleader uniform,
hanging all over Stan at some sporting event,
waving from a float in the homecoming parade.

There was one of Lawrence, too,
darkly brooding at that stage,
wind sweeping his hair over his face.

The look on Stan's face as
his fingers hovered between them
was indescribable.

"Hey ... you okay?" Lawrence asked.

Stan startled out of his reverie.
"Yeah, I guess so," he said.
"A little confused maybe."

"You did fine with the math today,"
Lawrence assured him.

"Thanks," Stan said,
giving him a sidelong glance
that swiftly flicked away.
"I meant us, though. Me.
What we talked about in the park."

Lawrence had felt certain,
when he blurted out his love for Stan,
that it wouldn't -- couldn't -- be returned.
After all, Stan had had a girlfriend
before she dumped him.

It never occurred to him
that Stan might be bisexual, always
seeming like the all-American boy idol.
Apparently it never occurred to Stan either.

"Yeah, that was a surprise,"
Lawrence said. "Good though."

"It surprised me too," Stan said.
"I just ... always thought of myself
as straight as an arrow."

Lawrence blinked at him,
and then cracked up laughing.
He laughed so hard that
he almost fell off Stan's bed,
laughed until he could barely breathe.

Stan looked at him with a nervous little smile.

Lawrence waved a hand. "Sorry. I'm sorry,"
he said. "I didn't mean to laugh at you, but
what you said was hilarious from my perspective.
Stan, you are straight as an arrow."

"I'm not getting it?" Stan said.

"An arrow only looks like it flies straight,"
Lawrence explained. "The flight is actually
curved, both vertically and horizontally."

"How do you even know that?"
Stan asked, staring at him.

"I've always known I was gay,"
Lawrence said with a shrug.
"Some people just do.
Some figure it out later."

"I meant the arrow-wiggling thing,"
Stan clarified with a wavery gesture.

"Oh, that," Lawrence said.
"I looked it up. Math is fun.
Besides, plenty of soups use arrows
because you can do more with them
than you can with bullets -- grapnel hooks,
line cutters, pinning something to a wall --
so I wanted to be able to control that."

"You are such a dork," Stan said.
"I love that about you."

Lawrence's heart stumbled then,
like a cat suddenly knocked off its feet.

"I wondered why ... how ..." he said.

Stan fingered the ends of Lawrence's silver hair.
"There's a light in you," Stan said quietly.
"I could see it even when you tried to cover it up."

Lawrence felt his cheeks heat
as all the blood rushed to his face.
Stan was surely the shining one
out of the two of them.

"Thanks," Lawrence said, because
if he tried to deflect compliments,
Stan tended to pile on more of them.

"This is all so ... hard to grasp," Stan said.
"I thought I knew myself, I really did,
and now I find out there's all this other stuff
in me that I didn't even suspect was there.
It's not the sort of thing I expected to change.
I'm not sure what I like, only who I like.
What if I can't give you what you want?"

"Stan, listen to me," Lawrence said seriously.
"If all you ever do is cuddle with me and
pet my hair, I will be happy with that.
I will be happy with you."

"But don't you want to ... I don't know,
do anything else?" Stan asked.

"Sure I'd love to try other things,"
Lawrence said, "but we don't have to."

"I have no idea what boys even do together."

"Pretty much the same things
boys and girls do together,"
Lawrence said with a smirk,
"just with a few logistical differences."

Stan's blush began at his shirt collar
and washed over his whole face.
"I feel like an idiot," he said.
"You know so much more about this."

"I've had my whole life to explore it,"
Lawrence said. "It's new to you."

"Yeah," Stan said, frowning a little.
"How do you figure out stuff like this?
Where you've got some wiggle room
and where you don't, where to start,
what you can do and how?
It's all a muddle to me."

Lawrence thought about Stan, then said,
"You earned the Personal Health badge --
didn't it cover the whole range of sexuality?"

"Uh yeah, there were options for that,
but I didn't think they applied to me, so I
filled most of my qualifications with other stuff,"
Stan said. "Guess I should've branched out more."

"So go back and do those now," Lawrence suggested.
"I could recommend books and websites and such,
but this would put you on familiar ground with scouting."

Stan's eyebrows went up. "That's a great idea,"
he said. "I'll look it up when I have time."

"If you get stuck, you can ask me,"
Lawrence said. "I've got books and all.
Better yet, ask Hefty. He's older and
knows how everything actually works."

"Yeah, maybe I will," Stan said.

"That's a start then,"
Lawrence said with a nod.

Suddenly a mouth-watering aroma
wafted into the room.

"Lasagna's out of the oven," Stan announced,
just as all three of his sisters stampeded
out of their room and down the stairs.

"Supper time!" Stan's father
hollered from the kitchen.

Lawrence slipped off the bed and stretched
while Stan hastily stacked up the books.
Then Lawrence held out his hand, palm up.

Stan looked at it, then shyly
slipped his hand into Lawrence's grasp,
letting the smaller boy pull him to his feet.

They went into the hall, and
the smell of food intensified.

Stan hesitated at the top of the stairs.

"Will your parents flip out
if we walk downstairs like this?"
Lawrence asked, swinging their hands.

"Nah, they're smooth with it,"
Stan decided. He took a step down,
with a gentle tug on their joined hands.

Lawrence followed him willingly.

* * *


Stan's house looks like this.  When Stan is 16, his sisters are 11, 9, and 7.  The three girls share the master bedroom, which has its own big bathroom, which makes for less competition.  Stan has the bedroom next to that, and his parents have the one on the opposite side of the hall.

In a functional family, people learn very different rules than in a dysfunctional family.  No wonder Lawrence feels a little lost here.  He has minimal idea what "normal" is actually like.

In archery, the path of an arrow curves along the vertical and the horizontal axis. Watch a video.  Even in modern times, a bow can do things that no other tool or weapon can do.

Understanding and exploring their own sexuality is a natural thing for young people to do.  Stan just hasn't done it because he assumed he was straight -- an easy mistake to make.  Take care of your sexual self.  Think about your orientation.

Compliments are a common part of human interaction, but they can prove challenging.  Know how to give a great compliment, how to compliment people who are reluctant to accept, and how to accept a compliment gracefully.

There are reasons why people deflect compliments, especially abuse survivors like Lawrence. Fear and low self-esteem often contribute to this.  This can complicate relationships. Self-bullying is a related issue in which people pick on themselves with negative self-talk and resist more positive portrayals.  There are ways to reduce self-bullying and overcome negative self-talk.

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5 comments or Leave a comment
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: September 21st, 2014 04:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Stan's parents sound like good ones. They even cook together, the way Colleen and I used to. (It's gotten harder now that she has mobility issues.)

Negative self-talk. Yeah.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 21st, 2014 05:40 am (UTC) (Link)


>> Stan's parents sound like good ones. <<

They are indeed. It's a very healthy family. Sometimes things get a little crazy but they know how to cope.

>> Negative self-talk. Yeah. <<

The inside of Lawrence's head is still not a fun place to be. He's getting better, though, and being around Stan is helping.
starcat_jewel From: starcat_jewel Date: September 21st, 2014 07:33 am (UTC) (Link)
"Pretty much the same things
boys and girls do together,"
Lawrence said with a smirk,
"just with a few logistical differences."

I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read that!

I can see some interesting balance-shifts in the future here. Stan is normally the leader between the two of them, but Lawrence is going to have to take that role if/when they actually decide to experiment.

(BTW, I have a scenario developing in my head about that. If you'd like to discuss it, and you'd be open to me writing "fanfic" in your universe here, let me know and I'll drop you a note.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 21st, 2014 09:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read that! <<


>> I can see some interesting balance-shifts in the future here. Stan is normally the leader between the two of them, but Lawrence is going to have to take that role if/when they actually decide to experiment. <<

Yes. That ability to rock back and forth is part of what makes them such a strong couple.

>> (BTW, I have a scenario developing in my head about that. If you'd like to discuss it, and you'd be open to me writing "fanfic" in your universe here, let me know and I'll drop you a note.) <<

I have some ideas of my own, but sure, fanfic is cool.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 22nd, 2014 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> *beams*

Oh, my. Gorgeous as ever! <<

I'm glad you enjoyed this so much.

>> I, too, love how Lawrence is getting a chance to be the one with the knowledge and experience. Reciprocity is adorable. <3 <<

Yay! That ability to switch lead makes them more flexible.
5 comments or Leave a comment