Chapter 10: (Written by: Phoenix2020)
“Take the last train to Clarksville
And I’ll meet you at the station
You can be there by four-thirty
’Cause I’ve made your reservation, don’t be slow
Oh, no, no, no
Oh, no, no, no
’Cause I’m leaving in the morning
And I must see you again
We’ll have one more night together
Till the morning brings my train and I must go
Oh, no, no, no
Oh, no, no, no”
The harmonic melodies of the Monkees came blasting from the RV’s quite impressive sound system as Guns ‘n’ Roses faded. “Well, that’s appropriate,” he observed. “I’m thinking we aim to overnight at an RV park near Clarksville, Virginia where the Roanoke River dumps into Kerr Lake. That’ll get us halfway to the Appalachians by about 9 pm and we can head up the mountains in the morning.”
Nicholas glanced over at Griffin. “You okay? You’ve seemed a little spaced all afternoon.”
“I’m good. Just … uh … didn’t really sleep well last night, I guess.” Griff knew it was lame before the words even left his mouth since he was just fine that morning.
He let it go but Nicholas couldn’t help but play back the afternoon in his mind and quickly realized that Griffin’s mood changed drastically following that awkward moment after lunch. He wasn’t sure what to make of that, though. Why would Griff be so uncomfortable? Then, again … why was he so uncomfortable?
Crossing the bridges from Dare Island to Roanoke Island and then over to the mainland, the boys were both deep in thought while the road trip playlist provided a background soundtrack.
After stopping for pizza in Warrenton, the boys found the RV park at 8:15 and, since Griffin had called ahead to ensure a vacancy, the paperwork was completed quickly and they were settled in for the night by 9.
Flopping down on the floor with their pillows, Nicholas chose ‘Alex Strangelove’ on Netflix. He’d heard good things about it. “This okay?”
“Yeah, sure. I haven’t heard of it but I’m sure it’s fine,” Griffin said.
“You want snacks or something to drink?”
“Nah, not right now. We’ve got leftover pizza for later, maybe.”
As they became engrossed in the flick … and more than a little engrossed in the slap gorgeous lead … the same odd but not disagreeable feeling came over both boys. Their proximity to each other and the nature of the movie began to have a distinct effect on them. The thoughts and images forming in both boys’ minds were astonishingly similar, though neither knew the other was riding the same train.
As the final scene played so beautifully, Nicholas turned toward Griffin. Griffin looked at Nicholas and both had tears in their eyes, as the story had, obviously, affected them both in the way it intended. As they looked into each other’s eyes, Nicholas reached over and gently cupped Griffin’s cheek with his right palm. With little hesitation, he went in and Griffin came to meet him. Sweeter than what they had just witnessed on the screen, this was exactly what both boys had always thought it should be, but never really thought it would be.
“Griff, I …”
Griffin answered whatever Nicholas intended to say by returning the kiss with all the passion he’d been repressing for so long. Neither boy had any doubt that their friendship just took a long-overdue leap forward. For Nicholas, the feeling was so surreal but Griffin felt such a huge sense of relief, as he’d been in deep turmoil over the feelings he’d developed and just couldn’t deny. He was in a bit of shock that Nicholas had actually made the first move!
As they came up for air, Griffin had to ask, “Where did that come from?”
With an adorable flush to his cheeks, Nicholas replied, “I think I realized last night that maybe I wanted … and needed … more. With you, I mean. Uh … I don’t know how to explain it.”
“What happened last night?”
“Well, I guess I was dreaming … it’s kind of fuzzy now … but when I woke up I reached over for you. You weren’t there and I didn’t like that you weren’t there. I wanted you there. I needed you there … like the night before.”
Without saying a word, Griffin slowly stood and reached down to pull Nicholas up. Hand in hand, they moved into the bedroom … their bedroom.
“Good morning, Peaches. How’d you sleep?”
“I can honestly say that I’ve never had a better night’s sleep,” Nicholas said. “Just having you beside me … holding me, cuddling … made me feel so safe. It just felt right.”
“I feel the same … and we’ll have many nights together now. At least, until I start school in August.”
“Let’s not think about that right now. One day at a time.”
“Right. So what’s the plan, man?”
“We’re gonna take Hwy 58 to hook up with the Blue Ridge Parkway near Hillsville, then head north. I’m thinking we camp a couple nights around the Roanoke area. I’ll check the RV Park Directory while you’re driving today.”
“That cool mountain air is going to feel exquisite after the hot mugginess of the past week!” Griffin replied.
“Then up and at ’em! Let’s eat and hit the road!”
As Griffin navigated westward, with Imagine Dragons and OneRepublic taking turns providing the beat, Nicholas gazed out the side window and basked in the afterglow of his first “real” night with Griff. He still felt a little stunned at the turn of events over the past 24 hours but absolutely elated nonetheless. A casual observer would probably be shocked that nothing more transpired than the physical togetherness of simply wrapping themselves into each other, cuddling and kissing until they drifted off in each other’s arms. Not exactly the way Hollywood would’ve written the script, but it was perfect. The rest will come, no doubt … but there was no rush. Then, again … August was going to be here way too soon. What then?
After a peaceful ride, the boys hit Hillsville right at lunchtime. After a Subway run, they ate their sandwiches in the RV … not saying much but speaking louder than words with their eyes while their mouths were otherwise occupied. Griffin made use of the facilities as Nicholas cleaned up and then climbed into the captain’s chair. He reset the GPS for the RV park they had made reservations with at Cave Spring and switched back to his road trip playlist.
The slow, scenic journey up the Blue Ridge Parkway was breathtaking. Nicholas had a hard time keeping his focus on the road and was very happy that the posted speed limit was only 45 which made for a relaxing journey. As they rolled into the campground, he knew he’d never felt more content. Personal history warned him that the feeling was unlikely to last, though.