The speech had started about nuclear explosions and, in a way, that was how it had ended. It could have been the fact that the blonde twit before him had attached herself to his best friend’s face for the last three days. Maybe it was that said best friend was currently eyeing off the blonde twit’s brother. Perhaps it was the little pro gay rights badge hanging off her shirt. But in the end it was the thousandth misuse of the word “literally” that ignited the fuse.
‘Jesus Christ have you ever read a dictionary?’ he exploded, stopping the girl mid explanation. ‘It’s literal, as in the sky is literally blue. Or I will literally slap you if you don’t stop saying that word! Or literally tear that stupid pin from your shirt because you’re literally a vapid moron!’
‘Anthony!’ Mrs Goldberg gasped.
‘Do you really think you can just flounce around promoting gay rights when you know nothing about it?’ snarled Ant, ignoring Mrs Goldberg’s outrage – it was too late to stop, the fuse had been lit, and the built up explosion erupted. ‘You don’t even realise that your “boyfriend” is shagging your brother behind your back. No gay kid in his right mind will take up your ridiculous rally. Not in this town. Not when all their parents attend the same church, with the same pompous, hell preaching, homophobic minister! You think it’s so easy for a gay kid to admit how they feel? Like a crush won’t look at you like you’ve grown a second head and run screaming in terror? Like it’s that easy to ignore years of rules and examples and ‘don’t do this’ and ‘don’t say that’ and the countless stories of men loving women and women loving men and my Mother telling me that ‘boys don’t love boy’s like your father loves me’ and you standing up there preaching at me while you’re making out with my, with my, my…’
The explosion petered out. Realisation crossed the girl’s red tinged face and mortification crossed his.
Red faced—in a potent combination of anger, shame and horror—he flung himself down on the front steps of the school and buried his head in hands.
Five minutes later, someone stepped down onto the stair next him, sitting in a swish of skirts and stockings and patting him lightly on the arm. ‘You know,’ said a soft, sympathetic voice. ‘you should start your own gay rally. You’re really very good at it.’
Muffled and mortified he asked, ‘Was it bad?’
‘It was quite spectacular,’ she said. ‘Although, I think most people knew about you and were just being polite about it. Except Tim. And if he doesn’t get it by now, I’ll skywrite it for you. And,’ she added, casting him a wicked grin, ‘just think how fun church will be this Sunday.’
He groaned, reburying his head and praying to whatever god was out there, to open up the ground and swallow him whole.