The Wishing Jar

A soft breeze from the harbor made the sheers at the bedroom window dance gracefully. Their lethargic movement emulated the mood of the unusually warm February afternoon. An overture played only in Ian’s mind as he watched the billowing ballet. Ian always heard music; he called it his life’s soundtrack. He laid on top of his neatly made bed with his head hanging over the edge. The soundtrack stopped momentarily as a sudden gust caused his father’s wind chimes to play. The wind chimes were in the garden below Ian’s window. His father loved that garden, spending every weekend weeding and pruning the small walled-in Eden. Ian gave the wind chimes to his dad as a Father’s Day gift when he was eight. He made his mother buy the chimes because they were much larger than ordinary wind chimes, the largest in the store display. Ian told his mother since they were the biggest they had to be the “daddy” chimes. He wanted his daddy to have the daddy chimes. The long metal tubes made a deep, almost mournful sound. The tone seemed so appropriate now. Listening to the chimes, Ian thought he saw the image of his father forming in the swirling curtains. He had been seeing him in the strangest places lately. A smile formed on Ian’s lips. How he missed him.

“I’m leaving for my church meeting now. I should be home by seven.” Ian’s mother walked into his room putting on her modest hat and white gloves looking every bit the proper Southern lady. “You sure you don’t want to come sugar, Reverend Leeds would be delighted to see you.”

Ian shook his head no, “I have school work.”

“Yes, I can see how busy you are. Have you worked on your book today?” Ian just gave an annoyed look. “Sorry, I guess I’ll never understand the creative process of a genius. But the next time your editor calls you can explain it to him.” She bent down and kissed her son on the forehead before she turned to leave. “Dinner’s in the slow cooker. Make sure you eat. You’re too thin.”

“Bye, mom” Ian shouted as his mother disappeared from view. Ian did have school work, but it was just a simple charcoal still life. He could easily create one of those in 5 minutes and still get high praise from the professor. He could have gone to the meeting, but he found his mother’s church friends a little too Stepford for his liking. Ian sat up and scanned the room for something to sketch. Everything was so ordinary. He bounced off the bed to search the rest of the house for an item of interest.

He leisurely roamed from room to room humming to himself. He enjoyed the feeling the house evoked deep within him. This was truly his home, his haven. Whenever he crossed the threshold instantly he was enveloped by warmth and safety. In the den, he stared at the photos of his father scattered on the mantle. He studied his handsome features trying to permanently scorch the image into his brain. He never wanted to forget his father’s face. He was so energetic and strong, with an ever present smile. Everyone told Ian he looked just like him, but Ian didn’t see it. He left the den to continue his search. He surveyed the entire house without finding inspiration. The closest thing was an old top hat from the hall closet. He remembered his father wore it whenever he did his magic act for the neighborhood kids. Ian was so amazed when he pulled a quarter from someone’s ear or made the chosen card rise from the deck.

The smell of dinner drew Ian into the kitchen. He stood at the kitchen counter, wearing his find, carefully selecting the vegetables he liked out of the Brunswick stew. The phone rang; Ian saw from the caller ID it was his editor. Ian let the machine answer the call. After plunging a piece of buttered bread into the pot, he replaced the lid and headed upstairs.

Ian was a child prodigy. He started writing stories when he was six years old. By the time he graduated from high school he had several short stories published in regional literary magazines. In his freshman year of college he had his first book published. It was a children’s book, he not only wrote the story but did the illustrations. The book sold well enough to spawn a sequel. In the first semester of his sophomore year, he wrote a short story about a man who only felt safe when he was under water titled, Under the Quiet Surface. His professor said it was one of the best stories he had ever come across. The professor read it aloud to the class. Ian cringed in his seat when he got to the part where the main character was described. The sensual language seemed more erotic when read aloud. Ian was sure every would know whom the character was based by the detailed portrayal. The professor encouraged Ian to submit the story to his friend who worked at Vanity Fair magazine. Ian acquiesced to his teacher’s pressure. The magazine bought it. The story was then read by a major publishing house, which optioned it for a novel. For the last 3 months, Ian had been working on expanding the story. But he was suffering from writer’s block. The story needed a love scene, not having any experience in that department, Ian was lost for words. He could write a generic love scene to explain the physical act, but was unsure of the emotions involved. He knew he was behind schedule and didn’t need to be reminded by his mother or editor.

Ian was still humming as he walked down the hall to his bedroom, but the tune had a more serious tone. He felt something graze his new head wear. It was the rope to the attic’s flying staircase. “I’m bound to find something up there worth my while,” Ian said out loud. He pulled the rope and unfolded the wooden steps. Dust particles scattered in the warm air spewing out of the black hole. Ian ascended into the darkness feeling for the string of the spaces only light source; once located he pulled it to illuminate the room. The attic held few items; several plastic containers marked holiday decorations, a cardboard box of old record albums and a large trunk. Ian opened the trunk and found it almost filled with his father’s clothing. He gingerly went through the neatly folded garments only stopping when he came to his father’s favorite sports coat. Ian held it up to his nose and breathed deeply. He could still smell traces of his father’s cologne through the strong odor of moth balls. Ian slipped it on; surprised it fit so well. He took it off and gently refolded the garment. He placed it back inside the trunk. He collapsed the top hat and put it in the truck beside the jacket. “This belongs in here too,” Ian said softly. He tried to close the lid, but a sleeve was sticking out over the rim of the trunk. Ian opened the trunk and pushed the sleeve back inside, then he heard the sound of something hit the floor and roll across the room. It was a button from the jacket. Ian followed the sound of the button; barely glimpsing the small object before it disappeared into a dark corner. He got on his hands and knees to feel around for the item. He felt it, but it was behind some duct work. He stretched his long fingers; his hand barely fitting in the narrow gap. He put all his bodyweight against an adjacent wall to get leverage. He reached the button and removed it from its hiding place. Ian let out a sigh of relief: he then felt the wall he was leaning against move. He scampered away and watched a panel slowly swing open. It was a hidden door. Still on his knees, Ian moved closer to the door. Behind it was a small storage area under an eave of the roof. Inside the space was only a trunk very similar to the one holding his father’s clothes. But it was smaller, like they were parts of a set. Ian pulled out the heavy trunk and opened it.

The smaller trunk contained many strange and wonderful things. There were little bottles of unidentified fluids. A collection of tins with dried plants and what looked like petrified bugs and small amphibians. The largest item was an iron pot about the size of a large mixing bowl that filled half of the trunk. Resting inside the pot was a small jar made of crockery with a cork stopper for the lid. Ian lifted the jar out of the pot. The rattle from the multitude of wooden, metal and crystal charms adorning the jar echoed throughout the attic. Ian stood on his feet, hitting his head on the sloping roof. Rubbing his injury, he walked closer to the bare bulb lighting the attic. Ian studied the small charms that hung from thin strips of leather. The strips were wrapped around the mouth of the jar. Each charm carefully knotted into place. The jar itself was embossed with an intricate, but primitive design. A rather dull, reddish-brown glaze took away from the jar’s otherwise beautiful shape and design. Ian thought it was like nothing he had scene before, definitely worth immortalizing in his sketchbook. He turned off the light and went down the temporary flight of stairs leaving the room a little more cluttered than how he found it.

After closing the staircase, Ian returned to his room and held the jar near the window to get a better look. Its embossing consisted of strange shapes that looked like hieroglyphics. “So beautiful” he whispered. He twisted the cork lid; with a snap it was loose. A sudden breeze rushed through the open window causing the chimes to ring out. The pungent odor of unknown botanicals filled the air. As Ian peered inside the jar he could tell it was the source of the strange aroma. He could see a few stems and leaves mixed within the gritty unidentified powder. Ian shook the jar and noticed a strip of paper buried inside. He reached in with two fingers and pulled it out. It had something on it, handwriting that looked like his father’s. Ian read it out loud, “May this house always keep my family safe.” Ian shook the jar again and found a second strip. It read “May my son always be healthy and happ.” The end of the strip was dark as if from a chemical reaction with the oil or herbs making the last letter, that Ian assumed was a y, illegible. “That explains a lot,” Ian joked before he shook the jar looking for more paper. With no success, Ian looked at the notes and wondered why his father had done this. He put the paper fragments back into the jar and replaced the lid. He positioned the jar on the wide sill of his bedroom window making sure the light was captured by several of the crystal charms. He took out his sketch pad searching for an clean sheet. The tablet contained a multitude of sketches and doodles of one particular subject; JaredDonahue. There were sketches of Jared in different poses and states of undress. Sketches meant for Ian’s eyes only. Ian stopped momentarily to look at his latest Jared sketch, a finely detailed portrait he did from memory. He traced the exquisite contours of Jared’s face and gave out a heavy sigh. “No time for this, I have school work to do.” He found a empty page and started to sketch the jar. It took him a little longer than 5 minutes, spending the extra time to get the highlights and shading exact.

The next day Ian was sitting in class waiting for the professor to arrive. He talked casually to his classmates; the three girls with whom he shared his work station. The conversation stopped when Jared walked in and crossed in front of their desk. All the quartets’ eyes quickly scanned his long, powerful physique. His tight jeans and sleeveless shirt made it obvious he was an athlete. Ian moved his gaze down to his desk quickly before anyone would notice he was staring at the jock. All the women continued to stare hoping that Jared would acknowledge their presence with a smile or a nod. But Jared was oblivious and quietly went to his desk and organized his supplies. The girls didn’t focus back on their own desk until the teacher appeared. Ian kept his head down pretending to be putting the final touches on his sketch. Ian was glad that Jared sat on the other side of the room and behind him, so not to be more of a distraction.

Each student was asked to display their artwork around the perimeter of the room. The teacher studied each sketch briefly before asking the artist to come up and describe his work. As usual Ian’s was clearly one of the best and Jared’s one of the worst. Ian didn’t understand why he was taking the class. He was a business major and Ian knew he had taken more than enough liberal art electives. He had been in several other classes with him already. When the teacher called on Jared everyone was looking at the artist and not his work. Being the star of the school’s water polo team he was used to being the center of attention. His soldier perfect posture contradicted his casual attitude. Jared’s exposed Atlas-like shoulders and tanned arms looked golden in the shaft of sunlight that lit his body. The light reflecting in his blue-green eyes made them sparkle like a mountain lake on a summer day. Ian kept his eyes down, just glancing momentarily in Jared’s direction. He didn’t like the way Jared made him feel. That was a lie, he loved the way Jared made him feel, but Ian wasn’t ready to accept it. His mother had always told him those kinds of feelings were wrong; a sin against God and nature.

Ian absentmindedly began to doodle again in the corner of his pad. He was drawing Jared’s arm. The light causing shadows around his carved musculature. The thick vein from his bicep divided into many thinner versions as it reached his large hand. Ian imagined those strong hands cradling his face as Jared lowered his lips to meet Ian’s in a kiss. Ian heard rumors that Jared was bisexual or even gay, but he thought that was just wishful thinking of the college population. That way everyone could have a chance to be with Jared. Ian snapped out of his daydream when he felt his cock fighting for more room in his underwear. He looked to make sure the bulge wasn’t obvious. He pulled the oversized black, fleece jacket he always wore over his lap. He heard the teacher’s criticisms. Jared just stood there listening, smilingly when the teacher tried to be amusing at his expense.

The teacher kept Ian for last. He came up to explain his work. As usual he was extremely nervous standing in front of the class. He kept his hands in his jacket pockets with his shoulders slouched forward. He started speaking in broken sentences but soon the words began to flow as he stared at the sketch. He lost himself in the art, using terms that most of his peers did not know. When finished the room was still. “Damn, I went into the art geek zone again,” Ian thought. From the back he heard someone say, “What a dork.” There was nervous laughter from several people. Ian put his head down and raised his eyes to quickly scan the room. He noticed a strange smile on Jared’s face as he looked right at him before quickly dropping his gaze.

“I think its great your passion for art runs as deep as your talent. Your perspective and technique are flawless, Ian. The way you used the light shows an eye of a true genius. It’s just wonderful,” the instructor gushed. “The subject is very unique. What is it?”

“I don’t know. I found it in the attic. I think it belonged to my father,” Ian said softly embarrassed by her words. He hated getting praise in front of others.

“Well, your father had a good eye, now I know where you get it. Another job well done,” the teacher said before checking the clock and dismissing the class. Ian went to his desk to collect his belongings. The girls at his desk congratulated him, he saw Jared approach as if he was going to say something. He hurried out of the room not wanting to hear Jared’s words. They never spoke directly to each other. He couldn’t bear to hear anything negative from him.

He finally stopped moving when he reached the quad and sat down on a bench. When he looked up he could see Jared was following him. Ian’s heart started to pound as he got closer. A group of Jared’s fraternity brothers came from the other direction; they surrounded him. Their greeting filled the air like thunder. Jared changed direction and joined his friends. Ian gave a sigh of relief closing his eyes.

“Hey Ian,” the pleasant voice startled him.

“Hey, Amber. What’s up,” Ian replied with a smile. Amber was an art major and had many things in common with Ian. She wore black, baggy clothes and her hair appeared unkempt, hanging in her eyes. But unlike Ian, she was into the Wicca religion and was known as the campus witch.

“I wanted to talk to you about your sketch of the wishing jar” Amber said as she sat down next to Ian placing her very large, raggedy purse/book bag on the bench first. The bag took so much space she was forced to sit very close to Ian, as she planned.

“Wishing jar, what’s that?” Ian asked. He tried to put more room between them but he was already sitting at the edge.

“It’s a vessel used by Wiccans for casting wish spells. We sell them at the shop where I work. But of course they don’t come with all the charms already attached. Each charm makes its more powerful and that jar has a lot of charms. You never told me your father was a witch,” Amber said excitedly.

“My father?” Ian said with surprise. “I’m sure it was a gift from someone. I remembered a lot of strange people coming and going from the house all the time when I was little. Not that witches are strange.” Ian quickly added the last comment after seeing the look on Amber’s face.

“Whatever, I don’t mind if people think I’m strange. Actually I prefer it to being thought of as one of the perky Barbie coeds that populate this bourgeois place.” Amber commented her voice getting louder so the passing group of sorority girls could hear.

Ian chuckled then held up his hand, “I promise never to think of you as perky.”

Amber smiled brightly and playfully slap Ian’s arm. “You are so cute,” Amber said putting her hand on Ian’s bicep, where she slapped him. Ian heard that a lot from girls. He was sure they meant it as a compliment, but Ian didn’t take it that way. Cute was what you call a puppy or a little boy, not a grown man. It made him feel small and weak. That’s the reason he always wore dark, oversized clothing, he thought it made him appear larger, when in reality it did the reverse. He looked like a little kid wearing his big brother’s hand me downs. Amber tightened her grip gently. She was curious what kind of body he had under those baggy clothes. The size and hardness of the muscle she felt surprised her. She slid her hand up to his shoulder and rested her head there. She waited for Ian to make a move, but Ian didn’t respond. After a few awkward moments of silence, Amber removed her head. She stood up, threw her bag over her shoulder. “Well, I’ve got to get to my next class.”

“Me, too,” Ian stammered looking briefly at Amber before turning his gaze to the ground at his feet.

“I’ll see you around. Take care of that jar of yours. It’s some strong mojo.” Amber waved goodbye before turning to walk away, looking over her shoulder once to see if Ian was watching her leave. He wasn’t, he had gotten up and was walking in the opposite direction.

Ian had finished his last class of the day and was in the library doing research for a Russian literature paper. As he scanned the shelves, he saw Jared sitting alone at a small table in the back corner. The desk was piled high with books and scattered paper. Ian had seen him many times working in the library. It had to be a quieter place to work than the jock infested frat house he lived in. Ian never saw any other athlete work and study as much as Jared. In fact he rarely ever saw any other jock spend so much time alone; they always seem to travel around campus in noisy packs. Jared went against type; he was quiet and a loner. Just like me, Ian thought.

Ian walked home from school traveling down the narrow streets of his picturesque neighborhood enjoying the early spring weather. The campus was located downtown and only a few blocks from his house. He was offered scholarships from colleges all around the country, but decided to stay in Charleston to be near his mother. She seemed so lonely after his father died. She needed to be needed, to take care of someone and Ian was all she had left. When Ian got home in found a note on his bedroom door saying his editor had called again. Ian sat at his desk and turned on his laptop. He stared at the blinking cursor on the screen for what seemed like hours. “Fuck this,” he said as he slammed the computer closed. He changed into his running clothes and shoes. He only wore shorts when he ran. He thought his legs, like the rest of him were too skinny to be in public view. He yelled to his mother he was going for a run and would be back later. His mother replied, “be careful” and shook her head. She knew he ran when he couldn’t write and he had been running a lot lately.

Ian ran several miles, his body on automatic pilot. His mind was cluttered with random thoughts, but he kept returning to Jared. He found himself at BritlebankPark. When he came to an empty bench he stopped and stretched out his legs. He sat watching the traffic slowly progress on the river. Other runners passed by him. He saw a group of men his age approaching. All were handsome and well conditioned, their matching outfits and short haircuts made it obvious who they were: underclassmen from the Citadel. The military college was a big reason why his college had two females for every male student. Seeing the fine collection of An Officer and a Gentleman wannabees he understood the women’s motives. The standard issued tight shorts and shirts hugged their powerful frames, the sweat soaked fabric clinging to every engorged muscle. Their leader was one of only two without a shirt. He was one of the tallest and by far the most muscular of the group. His regulation haircut, rugged features and stern expression radiated confidence. His glistening, tanned torso was a work of living art in fluid motion. His broad shoulders, massive chest, chisel abs, and strong arms all worked in perfect unison with his powerful legs to propel him effortlessly forward. His superb conditioning evident was he moved at a good clip without having to gasp for air, his mouth barely open. The large metallic wristwatch and thin coating of dark hair on his chest and forearms made him the definition of virility. There was no mistaken he was the top dog among this pack of alpha males. As he passed he gave a quick glance at Ian; clenching his jaw, flexing his facial muscles to match his toned body. Ian felt his cock twitch. A sudden release of adrenaline made him feel strong and alive. He wanted the military man to take him then and now; quickly, roughly and primal like an animal. All other thoughts were pushed out of his mind. Ian could almost feel the stud’s strong hands touching him, conducting their union like a maestro. He leaned forward to camouflage is aroused state. He watched as the group disappeared down the broad walkway. “Wow, I bet no one has ever called him cute” Ian thought.

On his run back home, Ian kept thinking about what happened. How could another man take control of his mind and body with just one look? No man had ever made him react like that, not even Jared. With Jared it was different; it was more emotional than instinctual. Jared made his heart flutter and his knees weak. Endorphins flooded his body making him feel content and safe. He wanted their time together to be tender and last hours, days, years, a lifetime. Ian now understood the difference between lust and love.

Ian arrived home just in time for dinner. He quickly ate his meal and went upstairs to shower and change. Tonight there was a special off-season exposition match between Jared’s team and another local team. Ian didn’t really care who Jared was playing, he just like seeing Jared in his nature element; the water. Ian never missed a home game; he always sat in the back so not to be seen. But Ian’s eyes never left Jared. Ian loved watching him strip off the team’s warm-up outfit and then admiring his beauty in his tightly packed Speedo. It was obvious Jared was physically superior to his team mates when he stood on the pool deck with his peers. Ian also enjoyed seeing Jared pull himself out of the water, rivulets cascading down his body; the waterlogged swimsuit clinging to his gravity-defying round ass like a mold. Studying the beauty of Jared’s body, Ian realized how it differed from the military man he saw earlier. The runner’s body looked as if it had been carefully carved from a block of granite. It’s innate strength apparent in the final sculpture. He was powerful, massive and supremely masculine. Jared looked as if God had started with a languid armature and delicately applied clay to it, layer upon layer, building up his body to perfection. The mounding muscle in his arms, chest, ass, and legs all individual components but flowing harmoniously together to embody the athletic male. Ian stared at Jared as he talked with the coach. Then Jared did the one thing that always made little Ian stand at attention. Jared nonchalantly adjusted his cock within his molded suit. It took less than a second, and Jared probably wasn’t aware he even had done it. But Ian’s body reacted like he had just made the most erotic gesture known to man. Ian realized lust was a component in the complex feelings he had for Jared too.

After the match, Ian walked home down the quiet dark streets trying to sort out his feelings for Jared. As a writer he needed structure to his thoughts, order to his emotions. This could be the key to breaking through his writer’s block and finishing his book. He knew Jared was a physically beautiful man, but what about his personality. He thought about how Jared was always the first one to comfort a team mate when he missed a play or yelled at by the coach. Ian couldn’t hear the conversation, but the body language said it all. Jared spoke softly and put his hand on the other man’s shoulder or back, the talk always ending with a smile or a loud grunt to get the team focused on the game. Jared showed real compassion when he didn’t have to. Maybe the real Jared was just as honorable as the man he created in his story.

Ian sat at his desk, the glow of his computer the only light in his room. He stared at the screen, not seeing the blank screen but images of Jared. Feeling frustrated, he reached for his sketch pad and went to his drawing of Jared in his swimsuit. His lay down on his bed and lowered his shorts. He started to stroke his growing hard-on. Ian couldn’t come. He turned to another drawing and rubbed his cock faster. Nearing climax but unable to cum, Ian threw the pad across the room. He knew the fantasy Jared would no longer satisfy him. He needed the real thing. He had to take a chance. Even if it meant Ian had to face the truth about his own sexuality. He had to be truthful with himself before he could evolve and progress as a writer and a man. But how? Ian sat up on his bed. He heard his father’s chimes ring out from the garden below. He looked at the window and saw the wishing jar. He thought for a moment; then he picked up his pad and ripped a strip of paper from the bottom of a page. He wrote on the paper, “I wish Jared would fall in love with me.” He put the paper in the jar and set it on his desk. He sat in the chair and looked at the jar. After a moment, he tore several more strips of paper and wrote the same thing again on each. He pushed the strips into the jar and said, “Better not take any chances.”

The next day was Wednesday and Jared wasn’t in any of Ian’s classes. Ian sought Jared out on campus, getting in close proximity several times. Ian didn’t walk up to him since he was always surrounded by his hunky fraternity brothers or team mates. Ian felt so insignificant when he was around men like that. Ian and Jared made eye contact briefly just once, but exchanged no words. He overheard the jocks talking about a casual football game planned for the afternoon. Ian thought that would be a great way to get near Jared. But that was Jared’s area of expertise, not Ian’s. He didn’t want to be a skinny kid looking foolish playing a game with real athletes. Only if there was a way to look like one of Jared’s friends, to be the kind of man Jared was used to being with; a man worthy of Jared’s love.

He hurried home and removed his clothes. He stood in front of the mirror above his dresser. His lanky body was extremely defined. His mother had enrolled him in martial arts classes a year or two after his father died. She was concerned his interest in culture and the arts were too feminine; she wanted to make sure he had masculine influences too. The four years of training showed in his broad shoulders and well developed musculature. His love of running kept him lean. But Ian only saw a skinny boy; not the handsome, ripped man everyone else saw. He tore a piece of paper and wrote, “I want to look like the kind of man Jared could love.” He put in the jar and stood in front of the mirror with his eyes closed. After taking a deep breath he opened his eyes. Nothing had happened. Ian let out a sigh and sat on his bed. Then he thought about the difference between love and lust. Love takes time and he didn’t have time. But lust is instinctive and instantaneous. “I need Jared to lust after me first. I need to look irresistible. He could fall in love with me later.” Ian tore another piece of paper and wrote “I wish to look like the military man I saw running along the river.” Placing the paper in the jar, Ian held the canister between his legs as he sat on the bed. He closed his eyes, after a few seconds he opened them and looked down at his body. Nothing had changed. He stood up and placed the jar back on the desk; he looked up into the mirror and was startled. Looking back at him was the hunky runner. Ian looked down again at his trim waist; it looked like it always had. He looked back into the mirror and ran his hand over the corrugated steel midsection he saw. He crunched down slightly and he could feel the muscles harden and expand, but when he looked down at his hand the muscles were gone. He raised his arms and flexed, the man in the mirror did the same. His arms and shoulders exploded with strength. He took his left hand and felt-up his still hard right bicep. It felt so large, hard and powerful. He tore his gaze from the mirror once more to look directly at his arm and saw a ball of muscle about a third smaller. He explored the rest of his body as he watched the mirror. It was like the runner was miming his every move perfectly. He ran his hands over his chest, feeling the expansive slabs of muscle hanging over his six pack. The fine coating of hair felt so soft and sensual. He turned slightly and brought his hands to his ass, the large globes snapping to attention with Ian’s command. He caressed his thighs, flexing them to make them swell with power. His cock was now expanding. “I knew you would have a huge set of balls,” Ian commented as he observed the hunk’s nut sack. It had to be nearly twice his real size. However the stud had maybe an only inch advantage when it came to the length of his cock: though he definitely bested Ian in its girth. Not surprising, everything about his guy was thick. Ian leaned closer to see his image’s rugged face while stroking his hard cock with one hand. Up close he was even more masculine looking than he remembered. His face looked as muscular and sculpted as his body. Ian thought, “Fuck, this is what a real man looks like.” He was now Jared’s equal if not bigger and stronger. He imagined it was Jared stroking his cock. Ian struggled to keep his eyes open so not to loose the fantasy. Ian felt his balls spasm and he released a load of cum. It spurted toward the mirror most falling onto his dresser. Ian stood there for a moment catching his breath, watching the muscle hunk’s muscles expand with each deep breath. He tore himself away from the virile vision and blotted up his spunk with several tissues. Now that he had dealt with his primal urges, he could think more clearly. What was happening? Why did his reflection look so different from what he saw with his own eyes? Did the jar’s magic have limitations he didn’t know? Maybe it only changed his image, like an optical illusion. How would other people see him? He had to find out.

Ian opened the drawer of his dresser and searched near the bottom of the pile. He pulled out a pair of medium sized shorts his mother had bought him. He never wore them because he thought they were too tight, even though they were his correct size. He pulled them on. They felt slightly confining compared to the oversized clothes he preferred. But when he looked in the mirror, the shorts looked painted on. The material clung to his meaty thighs and ass. The bulge of his manhood tested the fabric forming a pouch he didn’t see when he looked down. He took his barely soft endowment in his palm, lifting up; forcing the tight material under his package. The adjustment made the bulge between his legs higher, larger, and stand-out further from his body. The man in the mirror smiled his approval. Next Ian searched for another never worn item his mother had bought. It was a spandex muscle shirt. He pushed his arms and head through the small openings and lowered the cloth over his torso. Ian could feel the stretchy material hugging his frame. He looked in the mirror and smiled again. He looked like such a jock. He appeared even more muscular with clothes on then when naked. His pecs stood out from his chest causing a shadow underneath. Without any sleeves, his shoulders looked wider and more massive. His arms hung like powerful weapons even relaxed at his side. The tight shirt showcased the V shape of his torso, making him look more manly and athletic. Ian focused on the reflection’s thick, fuzzy forearms and wrists, something was missing. He snapped his fingers and opened the top right side drawer. He pulled out a small box and placed it on top of the dresser. He opened the box and put his father’s large wristwatch over his left hand. He snapped the metal clasp close and let his arm fall back to his side. With a slight shake of his wrist, Ian smiled at the man before him. “No one can resist this.”

Ian walked to campus nervously. He studied his reflection in the store windows along King Street to make sure nothing had changed. He noticed people staring at him as he passed. Whenever he returned the stare, people either quickly looked away or gave him a smile. An attractive girl was coming towards him quickly writing something on a piece of paper. She stopped in front of him, looked up into his eyes. “Hi, I’m Sara. Call me.” She held up the paper with her phone number and name on it for Ian to see in one hand. She then ran her fingertips over Ian’s chest and down his arm, stopping momentarily to squeeze his bicep with the other. Ian reached for the paper causing his arm to bulge. Sara cooed her approval as she squeezed harder, unable to dent the formidable muscle. She stepped around Ian scanning his body while licking her lips before continuing along her way. Ian watched her leave. Then a car passed with the young man hanging out the passenger side window. The guy yelled, “You are so fucking hot.” Ian turned and saw the man staring directly at him. Ian just smiled and the guy howled like a wolf. Ian continued his way to the campus more confident that his plan might work with every step. He started to hum a cheerful tune as his pace quickened.

When he reached the quad he didn’t see Jared, but he did see two sorority girls that often hung around him and his friends. They sat on a large, wheeled ice cooler and looked as if they were waiting for someone. Ian walked up behind them and said hello. The girls turned around and quickly scanned the hunk before them. They smiled brightly when their eyes finally met Ian’s. “It’s a beautiful day today isn’t it, ladies,” Ian said putting his hands on his hips, feeling a little uncomfortable with the girls checking him out so unashamedly The girls eagerly responded and soon the threesome were engaged in small talk. Megan was a pretty brunette and Katy was a similarly featured red-head. As he chatted Ian kept looking around for Jared, but all he saw was six of his friends approaching.

“Hey guys, we have someone we would like you to meet,” the girls said each caressing one of Ian’s arms. “This is Brock,” the girls continued using the pseudonym Ian gave them. The jocks reacted to Brock immediately. Most straightened their posture to look taller and puffed out their chests to appear bigger. Ian shook each of their hands firmly. Most of the men lowered their eyes after saying their names to show Ian he was the dominate one. Only one of them, Randy, tired to overpower Brock by tightening his grip as they shook hands. Randy was the shortest of the group but had the most muscular physique. “We thought maybe Brock could join in your game today,” the girls remarked, their hands never leaving Brock’s arms.

The guys looked at each other and shrugged their well toned shoulders. “Fine, okay” the men mumbled. “Sure thing, Brick,” Randy said purposely getting the name wrong, “when Jared gets here that will make eight of us; four to a team. But you should know sometimes the game gets a little intense.”

“Oh I think he can handle it, Randy,” Megan said pulling herself closer to Ian as if to make the other man jealous. “And his name is Brock. It’s easy to remember, just think of his body: Big and rock-hard.”

“Whatever,” Randy said not hiding his anger over the girl’s behavior very well. Ian was trying to figure out what was going on between the two when his attention was distracted by the loud greeting for Jared as he appeared.

Jared was all smiles as a couple of his friends ran over to greet him, tossing him the football. One man jumped onto his back playfully and Jared carried him back to the group. The smile left Jared’s face when he saw Ian. He looked uncomfortable standing next to Ian and only looked into his eyes for a second before averting his gaze. Ian thought even Jared was intimidated by his new appearance. One of the girls introduced Brock to Jared. “Brock?,” Jared asked.

“Yeah, Brock” Randy said with a mocking tone.

“He’s going to play with us so we have an even number of men,” one of the other athletes said.

“You play football?” Jared asked again with the same strange expression.

“Doesn’t he look like he plays football?,” Katy remarked moving her other hand to Brock’s chest. Megan followed the other girl’s lead and put her hand on Brock’s other protruding pec. Both girls giggled.

“Sure, I guess so,” Jared answered. By the expressing on his face, Ian could see the gears in Jared’s brain working. He squeezed the football in his hands nervously. Then his posture opened up and the smile returned to his lips. “That’s great; you can be on my team.”

“Hey that’s not fair. The two of you on the same team,” another man said in protest. The other men shook their heads in agreement. Jared didn’t understand their concern.

“No, that’s fine. I’ll take Darin, Zach, and Linc” Randy said before removing his shirt. He flexed his torso and clapped his hands indicating he wanted Jared to throw him the ball. Randy started to walk backwards to the far side of the grassy field.

“Okay, so Dave and Nathan are with us.” Jared responded to Randy’s request and passed the ball to him with a solid, flawless throw. “You can have possession first.” The men pulled off their shirts and tossed them on the ground, along with their wallets, cell phones and keys. The decided upon teams went their separate ways. They girls waited for Ian to take of his shirt. After removing his peripherals, Ian pulled the covering over his head, slowly lowering his arms to prolong the girl’s pleasure of seeing his thick pecs fall into place. Megan bit her lip and Katy purred at the sight. Ian smiled and turned to join his team on the field. When he turned he saw Jared standing there enjoying the show too. Jared gave Ian a fast once over with no expression on his face, then turned and jogged to where the rest of the team waited. Ian took a deep breath and followed behind.

The game progressed and Ian proved to be an agile, strong player. It made it easier that the other men were afraid of his perceived larger size. He noticed when he joined the team huddle the other men gave him a wide berth. His team decided to switch positions at the end of each quarter. It was Jared’s idea, saying every member of the team is of equal importance. Even though it was obvious he was the best natural athlete on the field, he never took himself or the game too serious. He kept the team morale high and jovial, telling jokes and praising everyone’s play. Ian was becoming even more enamored with each passing minute. Jared was the quarterback in the first quarter. Ian found it difficult to focus on Jared’s plays as he drew them because he used his own torso as the field diagram. Ian stared as Jared’s long fingers traced the moves over his well muscled, sweat covered body. He ached to feel the slick, hard contours for himself.

At the end of the first half, Ian’s team was leading by a touchdown. During halftime the guys took a break, eagerly gulping down the sport drinks the girls had brought in the cooler. Megan spent the entire time at Ian’s side telling him what a strong and gifted athlete he was. Ian noticed she grew more affectionate whenever Randy was near. Randy said nothing but the anger in his glare was obvious.

The men returned to the field for the second half. Randy was yelling at his team mates to get their head in the game and stop goofing off. It was decided that Ian would be the quarterback. One of his team mates commented, “With guns like that, he shouldn’t have any problem throwing the ball into the end zone.” Ian nervously drew out his play, using the ground as his canvas instead of his chest. The team grunted as they broke out of the huddle and went into position. The ball was snapped, and Ian moved back looking for an open player. Randy blind-sided Ian, throwing his entire hydrant-like physique into Ian’s exposed flank. Ian was lifted off his feet by the force of Randy’s attack. He landed shoulder first into the ground, the extra weight of Randy’s body compounding the force of the impact. Ian felt excruciating pain then his arm went limp. Randy stood up and looked down at Ian. He smiled seeing the amount of pain the bigger man was experiencing.

Jared ran to Ian’s side, “Are you okay?”

Ian sat up, breathing through clenched teeth trying to cope with the pain. “I don’t know. I can’t move my arm, I think it’s broken.” Jared started running his hands over Ian’s arm and shoulder trying not to cause Ian more pain.

“Don’t worry Brock, Jared knows what he’s doing” Nathan said kneeling down on the opposite side of Ian. “His father’s an orthopedic surgeon and his mother’s a chiropractor. He’s fixed us guys more times than the team doctor.”

“I don’t feel any broken bones, I think you’ve just dislocated your shoulder,” Jared said in deep thought.

“Linc dislocated his shoulder at a game once” Nathan commented and looked up at Linc.

Linc nodded affirmatively, “Jared snapped it back into place before the medics showed up. Didn’t you Jared?”

Jared looked at the crowd, then Ian. “Yes, but I think it’s wise for you to go to a doctor. I don’t want to cause any more damage to your shoulder.” Ian could see the deep concern in Jared’s eyes.

“It’s okay, I trust you” Ian said still looking into Jared’s aqua eyes.

Jared held the stare for what seemed like an eternity before realizing ever one was staring at him. Jared grabbed Ian’s arm and stood up. “Nathan get behind him and support his back.” He looked at Ian, “Brace yourself, this is going to hurt like a son of a bitch.” With a deep breath, Jared pulled on Ian’s arm in a swift, forceful jerk. Ian let out a agonizing groan, then gasped for air. Jared let go of Ian’s arm and felt around his shoulder once more. Ian could feel the pain fading from his battered joint. Jared walked over to the pile of t-shirts on the ground and grabbed his own. He took some ice from the cooler and wrapped in the garment. He placed it on Ian’s shoulder, “This should keep the swelling down.” He motioned to Nathan to hold the ice bag in place. Jared stood and turned to face Randy. “What’s the matter with you? This is supposed to be a friendly game not the fucking Super Bowl.”

Randy stiffened his body, puffing out his chest in a defensive posture. “It’s not my fault if G.I.Joe here can’t take a hit. Maybe he should have been paying more attention to game instead of the girls on the sidelines.”

“You’re such an asshole. You’re the one worried about who the girls are watching” Jared yelled.

Randy looked at everyone gathered around for support. No one said a word; he was alone in this fight. “Why are you getting so upset anyway Jared. Is he your boyfriend or something?’

Jared walked up to Randy. Randy prepared himself for an attack. His muscles flexing as he tensed them. But Jared just grabbed Randy’s thick upper arm and pulled him away from the crowd. They walked about 15 yards before Jared released his grip. Randy rubbed his arm where Jared held him as Jared talked to him visibly angrier than he was before. The two men were far enough away that their words could not be clearly heard.

Ian, like everyone else, watched the two powerful athletes interact. Ian used his other hand to hold the ice bag as Nathan helped him to his feet. “The entire baseball team is full of egomaniacs, but Randy’s got a real Napoleon complex. Usually Jared lets him think he’s the BMOC. That kind of stuff never mattered to Jared. But it looks like what Randy did to you was the breaking point. Jared’s finally going to put him in his rightful place,” Nathan said with glee.

Randy stood there listening for a long time trying not to appear frightened by the larger man yelling at him. Then suddenly he started to yell back, raising his hand and pointing a finger into Jared’s face. Jared grabbed Randy’s wrist and forced his arm down; both men’s muscular bodies flexing in the contest of strength. Once Jared had Randy’s hand down by his side showing who the dominate male was, he let go and started to walk back to the watching crowd. Randy screamed out “wus,” Jared just ignored him. Randy turned and walked away in the opposite direction.

“Game’s over guys. Let’s call it day,” Jared said in a calm voice. Ian thought he looked a little embarrassed by what had just happened. Jared looked at Ian, “Why don’t you come with us to the House? I want to check your shoulder again.” The men picked up their belongings. Jared grabbed Ian’s stuff. Megan got Randy’s. They said goodbye to the girls and walked the short distance to the Frat house. Ian followed Jared upstairs to his room still holding the impromptu ice bag in place. Jared took his ice filled shirt from Ian’s hand. “I’m gong to dump this ice into the sink, I’ll be right back. Make yourself at home.” Jared walked out of the room, closing the door behind him.

Ian looked about the small, but neatly kept room. He saw a collection of athletic trophies high on the top shelf above a desk. There were two framed items hung at eye level when seated. Ian walked over to get a better look. One was a picture of Jared with two people Ian assumed were his parents. Ian thought they were as beautiful as their son. The other was a certificate indicating Jared made the Dean’s list last semester. Ian thought it was very poignant that it was the certificate Jared placed so prominently, while the trophies were put up high, out of the way. Ian found one of Jared’s bathing suits drying on the back of the desk’s chair. Ian picked up the slightly damp Speedo and placed it under his nose. He inhaled deeply. The scent of chlorine and Jared caused the image of him in the suit to appear in Ian’s mind. He held the skimpy piece of clothing and couldn’t believe it was capable to containing a man like Jared. Ian could feel his cock swelling. Just then Jared returned, closing the door again. Ian quickly put the suit back on the chair and sat down at the foot of Jared’s bed.

“How’s the shoulder feeling?” He asked as he stood in front of Ian still without a shirt.

Ian was leaning forward to hide his slightly inflated rod. He realized he was also half naked and sitting on Jared’s bed. He became uncomfortable and couldn’t look at Jared. “It’s feeling much better. I’m sure I’ll be back to normal in a couple of days.”

“I’m sure you’re right, but you should still see a doctor,” Jared said in a serious tone. He walked to his nightstand and pulled out a tube of ointment. “I’m going to apply some of this heat rub into the shoulder to improve the circulation, which will help it heal faster. You can take this home with you and use it yourself. Alternating hot and cold is the best thing for an injury.” Ian shook his head to show he understood. Jared kicked off his shoes and kneeled on the bed behind Ian. He applied the gel and massaged it into Ian’s shoulder, upper back and arm. Ian had never had another person touch him like this.

“I’m sorry I caused you and your friend to argue” Ian said trying to take his mind off the sensations he was feeling.

“Randy and I aren’t what you call friends. I don’t think Randy can be another man’s friend. He sees us only as rivals.” Jared commented while continuing to work on Ian’s sore muscles. “I do regret going off on him like that. I don’t know why I got so angry. He’s an asshole, but it wasn’t totally his fault. Megan was using you to make him jealous. They used to date, then Randy cheated on her, she got mad and let the mind games begin.” Jared’s strong fingers kneaded all the tension out of Ian’s body. Ian found Jared’s voice as soothing as his touch. Jared moved his left hand to Ian’s left shoulder and began to massage his neck, his thumbs going high into Ian’s hair line. Ian had never felt so relaxed. He started to hum the song, Sympathy-Tenderness from the Broadway show Jekyll and Hyde. “That’s a nice song,” Jared said with a slight laugh.

Ian woke out of his meditative state embarrassed by his reaction to Jared’s massage. “Uhmm, thanks. It’s from a show I saw in New York with my father.” Ian couldn’t stop talking. He was suddenly filled with nervous energy. “We used to go to plays and museums all the time when he was alive. On that trip, I think we saw three different shows. But that was my favorite.”

“Are you a big fan of the great white way?” Jared asked making his way down Ian’s lower back.

“Definitely, sometimes I wish real life was like a musical. We could all sing and dance our way through life. Our emotions explained in thoughtful lyrics and beautiful orchestrations. And when we fall in love; the music crescendos and dazzling lights, like fireworks, surround us as we embrace in a passionate kiss.” Ian realized he had slipped into geek mode again. “Listen to me, how cliché. A faggot you likes show tunes.” Ian froze. What did he just say? He had never admitted to anyone, not even himself, that he was gay. He realized that Jared had stopped his massage. Ian didn’t breathe trying to think of some way out of this. Suddenly he felt Jared’s hands on his shoulder again.

“When you saw the show, which one did you identify with Jekyll or Hyde?” Jared asked.

Ian finally exhaled relieved the awkward silence had passed, “Jekyll of course.” After a pause, Ian felt compelled to explain. “He was the good one, but I understand the appeal of being some one else for awhile. It can be so freeing, allowing you to do things you would never dare in your own skin and not worry about the consequences,” Ian thought about his own transformation. “Being able to fool others and even yourself into thinking you’re something you’re not.”

“But did Hyde really fool the person that really counted,” Jared stopped massaging Ian and sat at the edge of the bed next to Ian, their naked thighs touching. “Didn’t Lisa see Jekyll when she looked at Hyde? You can’t hide who you really are from the people who love you.” Jared talked excitedly, almost like he was on a debating team. Ian had never seen this side of him before. He was so much more than just a pretty face.

“That’s a good point. I never thought about it like that before. Of course Hyde was a part of Jekyll’s real persona..” Ian stopped and looked at Jared. “How did you know the song was from Jekyll and Hyde? I never said that.”

“You’re not the only one who loves show tunes” Jared answered. He slowly leaned over and kissed Ian gently on the lips. Ian did not react, just stared into Jared’s eyes. Jared then reached around Ian placing one hand on his back and the other on his opposite hip and gently lowered Ian onto the bed. Ian felt the weight of Jared’s hard body on his, its warmth melting away any apprehension. Their eyes never leaving each others; Jared lowered his mouth to meet Ian’s once more. This time the kiss was more forceful and passionate; Ian could feel Jared’s tongue graze his own. Ian’s cock was as rigid as a flag pole. Jared’s hand moved from Ian’s hip slipping underneath the waist band of Ian’s shorts while still kissing him. Jared squeezed Ian’s balls and began to stroke his shaft. Ian’s body was in sensual overload, this was want he had long dreamed about. Ian’s body exploded, he came in Jared’s hand. Jared leaned to one side, lifting his body off of Ian. He pulled his hand out of Ian’s shorts. “That was fast” Jared said looking at his cum covered fingers.

“I’m sorry” was all that Ian could think to say.

“No, it’s okay. I was excited too.” Jared rolled over onto his back and wiped his hand onto his shorts.

Ian swallowed the accumulating salvia in his mouth with a powerful gulp, “You don’t have to stop if you don’t want to.” Ian kicked off his sneakers and removed his shorts before rolling onto his stomach, arching his back to lift his ass. Ian wasn’t sure if he looked sexy or like a baboon offering itself to the dominate male. Ian soon got his answer as he felt Jared hand caressing his ass cheeks. Jared leaned over Ian and pulled a condom out of the nightstand drawer. He asked Ian if he wanted to put it on him. Ian shook his head no and buried his head into the pillow. After a moment, Ian felt Jared grab on to his hips and reposition his body. Ian felt like a model being manipulated by an artist. Ian felt something cool and wet between his ass cheeks. Jared was spreading lubricate around Ian’s hole, his fingers entering virgin territory. Jared removed his fingers and then Ian felt something larger invading him. Ian gasped for air. He heard Jared whisper, “Relax, if you want me to stop just let me know and I will.” Ian did his best to release his muscles, fighting every natural instinct to clench. Ian kept breathing in the deeper Jared went. Ian couldn’t exhale his body was racked with unknown pain and pleasure. He could hear Jared’s soft moans. Just when Ian couldn’t take anymore, Jared stopped and withdrew slightly. Ian finally released his lungs, the hot air caught in the pillow making his face sweat. Jared thrust forward, then withdrew and advanced again, this time faster. The movements were increasing. Ian felt Jared’s hands caressing the sides of his torso and back. His breathing was becoming louder as were his moans. Then Jared stopped moving and Ian could feel his cock spasm inside him. Jared was silent for about twenty seconds before he exhaled and pulled out of Ian. Jared fell onto his back next to Ian in the bed. Ian looked at Jared’s face; it was flushed and sweaty too. He fought to catch his breath. Jared turned to look at Ian and smiled. He put his arm up over Ian’s head and pulled him closer. Ian moved his body next to Jared resting his head on Jared’s shoulder. “Give me a minute and you can have a go. I’ve got another condom in the drawer.” Jared said as he pulled the latex cover off his rod and wrapped it in his shorts. He used the shorts to squeeze the remnant cum out of his shrinking tool before throwing them onto the floor.

Ian watched intently, he had never seen another man’s naked body this close up before. Ian heard Jared’s breathing return to normal. He felt Jared’s fingers trace small circles on his back. Ian’s nose rested close to Jared’s nipple. He inhaled deeply relishing Jared’s scent. It felt so natural lying next to this man. Ian felt warm and protected, like he was home. He then brought his hand onto Jared’s chest. Jared grabbed it with his free hand and kissed Ian’s palm before placing it back onto his hard chest. Jared moved his hand to brush the hair away from his face and Ian moved is hand down to Jared’s abs. Ian followed the groove between the muscles that stood in high relief, the muscles becoming more defined with each breath. He had never felt anything so amazing before. He moved his hand down to the deep wells over Jared’s hip bones and down to his pelvis. The lines of Jared’s body were so beautiful he understood why great artists love recreating the human male form. It had to be nature’s greatest work of art. Ian cautiously lowered his hand to Jared’s cock; the length and size still impressive in its flaccid state. He gently held it between his fingers, thinking while it looked so much bigger than his own equipment; it didn’t feel that much bigger when in his hand. He looked at Jared’s face before continuing. Jared had his eyes closed and appeared to be enjoying Ian’s touch. Ian continued his exploration by cupping Jared’s ball sack in his hand. This definitely felt bigger. Ian rolled the large balls in his fingers and squeezed them.

Jared’s body shuddered, “Hey go easy there. They’re attached to me and I’ll like to keep it that way.”

“Sorry” Ian said.

“It’s okay. It’s usually women I have to remind how sensitive a man’s balls are” Jared joked as he hugged Ian tighter.

“Have you been with a lot of women?” Ian asked.

“A few,” Jared answered.

“And men?”

“A few more,” Jared said coyly. “But I’m not the campus Casanova some people think I am. How about you?”

Ian hesitated. “This is my first time with anyone.”

Now it was Jared who hesitated. “Well then, it makes it even more special for me too. Is there something you want to do to me or want me to do to you? I want you to see those fireworks you talked about earlier.”

“No, I just want to lay here in your arms” Ian pulled his body closer to Jared’s so he was almost lying on top of him. “You are so incredibly beautiful. And as Keats wrote A thing of beauty is a joy forever, and you make me very joyous.” Ian could feel Jared’s body tense as he let out a sigh.

“But wasn’t it Wadsworth who said, The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor touched. They must be felt with the heart.”

“Actually it was HelenKeller. Even a blind woman would know you’re beautiful if she could touch what I’m feeling right now.” Ian turned his head to look at Jared who had a frustrated expression. “Don’t worry, no one expects a man who looks like you to be smart too.”

With that Jared pushed Ian off him and got out of bed. He walked to the dresser at the foot of the bed. “I may not be some kind of a genius and maybe athletics come easier to me than academics, but I’m not a dumb jock. I work my ass off in the class,” He stopped for a moment trying to control his temper, he pointed to the certificate hanging above is desk. “I was on the Dean’s List last semester and will be again this semester. And I’m not taking some joke, muscle-head classes either. I’m going to graduate with a business degree and hopefully go to Wharton for my MBA.”

Ian could see Jared was really upset. Ian got out of bed and stood in front of him. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean what I said. It was a really poor attempt at humor. I’m the dumb one in this room. When I look at you I do see a gorgeous athlete, but not a dumb jock. You don’t need a certificate to proof you are intelligent. You’re gentle, kind and considerate. I admire you more than you will ever know.”

Jared saw the sincerity in Ian’s eyes as he spoke. He grabbed him and kissed him, putting his hands on Ian’s shoulders. “You know my favorite song from Jekyll and Hyde comes right after the one you hummed earlier.” Both men smiled then sang together poorly, “Nothing would ever be the same.” They chuckled, and Jared wrapped his arms around Ian and hugged him tightly. “I think I love you” Jared whispered in Ian’s ear. Ian heard the words he had wished for. He opened his eyes and saw the reflection in the mirror above the dresser. Jared wasn’t holding Ian in his arms, it was Brock. Suddenly Jared’s words lost all meaning. He let go of Jared. Jared dropped his arms to look into his lover’s face. Jared happy expression disappeared as he saw the pain in his eyes. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s getting late. I have to go” Ian said as he reached down for his shorts and pulled them on.

“Okay, I understand Remember to see a doctor and alternate hot and cold.” Jared instructed as he watched Ian get dressed. “When can we see each other again?”

“I don’t know. Soon,” Ian said as he quickly walked out the door. He left the campus ignoring the stares and comments of his admirers. He took side streets and alleys to get home, avoiding the busier streets. Arriving home, Ian walked through the backyard gate startled to see his mother sitting at the patio with her back toward him. Ian remembered the change to his appearance and started to back out of the yard. He didn’t want to frighten the lady of the house. “Where are you going, Ian?” she asked without turning around. Ian didn’t respond. She turned and looked directly at him. “I asked where you were going.”

Ian did not see any confusion on her face, just anger. “No where,” he mumbled.

“I’ve been waiting to talk to you. I found this in your room while I was putting away your laundry,” his mother said as she stood and turned to face her son. She was holding the wishing jar. “Who is Jared and why would you want him to love you?” She said with disgust in her voice.

“You have no right invading my privacy like that” Ian barked back, his anger overcoming his embarrassment.

“I have every right in my house; especially when my son is playing with the tools of the devil. He took your father away from me and I’m not going to let him take you too.” She raised the jar high above her head and threw it onto the concrete patio. The jar disintegrated into dust on impact. Ian screamed “no” and dropped to his knees in front jar’s remains.

A sudden breeze created a whirlwind lifting the paper strips high into the air. Ian watched them scatter. Defeated he dropped his head. He saw a single piece of paper being held down by the jar’s cork top. Ian picked it up. It was the one his father wrote about him. As Ian read it, his father’s chimes rang out. Ian looked up at his mother and asked “Why? All I wanted was to be loved.”

“You are loved Ian, by God and me,” she bent down and grabbed his shoulders, helping her son to his feet. “And our love will save your soul. Come with me to church right now. We’ll pray for God’s forgiveness.”

“Why do I need to be forgiven?” Ian continued trying to make his mother understand, “If you met Jared you would see he is a good and kind person.”

“You need to repent for your sins. You are going against God’s wishes.” his mother yelled defiantly.

Ian looked into his mother’s tear filled eyes. “You’ve always told me we are all God’s children. And a parent’s love is unconditional. I would think that both God and my mother could love me, the real me.” Ian’s mother just shook her head no. Ian backed away, then turned and left through the back gate. As he ran down the alley, he heard his mother screaming his name. He just quickened his pace to escape her calls.

Ian looked into the window of the occult shop. He caught his real reflection in the glass. The jar’s magic must have ended when it was destroyed. In one day his life had been changed forever. He had no regrets, but felt so alone. He needed to feel safe again, if not in his mother’s home, then in Jared’s arms. If he loved Brock, then Ian would be Brock again. He needed another wishing jar. The bell attached to the store’s door rang when Ian entered. The occult shop was dimly lit and overstuffed with odds and ends. The middle-aged man behind the counter greeted Ian and asked if he could help him find something. “I’m looking for Amber”

“I sent her home. A pretty, young girl needs time to prepare for tonight’s romantic festivities,” the man said with a big smile. “Is there something I could help you with?”

“Yes, I’m looking for a wishing jar” Ian answered.

“Oh, we have a good selection of vessels you can use for wishing jars.” The shop owner moved from behind the counter and walked to a shelf in the center of the store. Ian followed closely behind. “They range from $8 for the smallest to $32 for the largest.” The man handed one of the larger jars to Ian. He looked at Ian and squinted. He reached for his glasses and put them on. “You look just like someone I used to know. Are you related to MalcolmIves?”

“I’m his son” Ian said proudly.

“My goodness, you’re Ian?” Ian shook his head yes. “I remember you when you were just a little boy. I’m BenAtkins. I was a friend of your father’s. You have grown in to such a fine young man. Your father would be so proud of you following in his foot steps. He was a powerful witch; he had a real gift for the craft.”

“My father was a witch?” Ian was dumbfounded.

“Yes and your mother too; but I understand she gave it up after your father died. She blamed the coven for his death.” The older man continued.


“He died when we were celebrating the summer solstice upcountry, near Table Rock. We were in such a remote area; it took forever to get him to a hospital after his heart attack.” Ben said with regret. “it was such a shame. Your father was a good man and a good friend.” Ian didn’t say anything; he stared at the jar in his hand trying to comprehend this new information. “Do you have everything you need to inculcate the jar?”

“Inculcate?” Ian asked.

“It takes repeated rituals to infuse the jar with magic. The more rites the more powerful it becomes. And it binds the jar to its owner, so it works only for him…or his direct descendants” The store owner could see the confused look on Ian’s face. “Have you not been practicing long, Ian?”

“No, not long” Ian answered. “Do you have anything that I can use that will work today?”

“I have many potions and amulets that can assist you. What kind of spell are you casting?

“To make someone fall in love with me” Ian answered softly.

Ben laughed, “Oh, the power of St. Valentine’s Day. Everyone’s thoughts turn to love. Sadly, there’s no such thing as a real love potion. This time of year I sell dozens of love candles to the general public, but they do nothing but give hope. You can make someone want you, obey you, or worship you; but not love you. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. No witch or wizard can conjure up true love.”

“How about changing my appearance to make someone fall in love with me?” Ian inquired.

“Sure it’s relatively easy for a powerful witch to change his physical appearance, but the irony is when the person you are trying to attract falls in love with you, the illusion is broken. And then they feel you tricked them into loving you. Deception is not a good way to start a relationship. You can’t hide who you really are from the people who truly love you” the store owner informed Ian.

“Just like in Jekyll and Hyde” Ian said under his breath. Now he understood why his mother saw through his illusion earlier. Regardless of what she said when upset, Ian knew she really did love him.

“Why would such a good looking guy want to change his appearance? If you’re anything like your father, you have all the ladies chasing after you. I was happy when he got engaged to your mother. When he was off the market, it gave me rest of us a chance.” Ben said slapping Ian on the back.

“Yeah, well thanks for your help. It was nice meeting you…again” Ian said deep in thought.

“My pleasure, please stop by again and say hello to your mother for me.” Ben said waving goodbye.

Ian left the store walking absent mindedly down the street. He decided he needed to go home and settle things with his mother. He better understood her reaction to the jar now after talking with Ben. Ian’s cell phone started to vibrate. It had gone off several times since he left his mother. He ignored it not wanting to talk to her. But now he saw he had a text message. Ian knew his mother didn’t know how to send a text message. He took the phone off his waist band and read the message. “You, let’s have dinner tonight and talk, Me.” Ian hit the delete button. Obviously it was sent to him in error.

He was about a block from his house when he stopped by the coffee shop to get a shot of caffeine before the big maternal showdown. Ian ordered a double espresso and waited for his name to be called. He saw two college aged girls at a nearby table checking him out as he waited. He realized he was still wearing the form fitting clothes from earlier. He was becoming uncomfortable. The girls whispered to each other and giggled, then looked at Ian seductively. Ian didn’t expect that. His name was called; he took his drink and walked out the door.

After taking a sip of coffee, he looked up and saw Jared approaching down the street. Ian panicked and ran down the adjoining alley that led to his backyard. He ducked into the recessed opening of the first gate he found. He stood with his back up against the gate, his heart racing. After a moment, he thought to himself. “Why am I hiding? He doesn’t care about me. I don’t look like Brock anymore. I’m just the art geek from class to him.” Ian relaxed and took another sip of his drink. He started his slow walk back to his house at the other end of the block. “Ian. Ian,” someone was calling his name. Ian stopped in his tracks. He didn’t turn around, he knew from the voice it was Jared. Ian heard Jared walking up behind him. Ian turned to face his pursuer. Jared had a big smile on his face, “Here you are. I’ve been looking all over for you. I hope you haven’t been avoiding me.”

“Why would I be avoiding you?” Ian said nervously tightly clutching his coffee with both hands. “Can I help you with something?”

“Can you help me?” Jared asked with a puzzled expression. “You left in such a hurry earlier. I thought we could have dinner tonight to discuss things. Didn’t you get any of my voice mail or text messages?”

“You’re me and I’m you? I mean the text message was from you?”

“Yeah, I know it’s corny. But my parents used to call each other you and me. As in You are the only one for Me. I think they’re better pet names than snooky bear or sugar lips.” Ian couldn’t believe Jared was talking to him like this. “When they used to leave notes for each other, they would just simply address it to Y and sign it M. I know we are just starting, but I want to be your Y one day” Jared said as he brushed the hair away from Ian’s stunned face.

Ian felt faint. He dropped his coffee causing it to splatter on the ground. Ian took a step back before moving to a high garden wall to lean against. He put his hand in his back pocket and pulled out the strip of paper he saved from the wishing jar. Ian looked at the wish his father wrote for him, staring at the last incomplete word. “You want to be my Y” Ian mumbled. There was a sudden wind gust. Ian heard the distant sound of his father’s chimes from the garden at the end of the block. He stared in the direction of the garden, his mind and heart racing.

“Are you okay?” Jared asked without moving. Ian didn’t respond, he looked briefly at Jared before returning his gaze toward his home. “I guess I’m not mentally stimulating enough to hold your interest.” Jared remarked sarcastically.

“What?” Ian asked as he tried to focus on Jared’s words.

“Maybe what happened between us today meant more to me than you. Was I just some kind of conquest for you? Am I a joke to tell your beatnik friends? Fuck the dumb jock and laugh about it over a glass of chardonnay at the gallery.”

“You knew it was me this afternoon when we were together?” Ian asked in a state of shock.

Jared laughed, “You must really think I’m an idiot. Calling yourself Brock was a little strange, but I know you artsy types are a little eccentric. Maybe the other guys were fooled by the tight clothes and the hair off your face; but not me. Of course, they haven’t been following you around like a stalker or worse a love-sick puppy for the past year and a half.” Jared was angered by Ian’s apparent indifference. He began to pace in front of Ian. “What a fool I’ve been. Everyone thinks you are so smart and deep. The tortured, brooding artist who wears only black. I fell for it completely. When I think of all the art classes I’ve taken just be spend time with you. I must have been crazy. My advisor thinks I should minor in Art I have so many credits. And I was afraid to talk to you because I thought I would sound stupid compared to the smart people you hang around. You intimidated the hell out of me.” Jared’s pacing quickened as tirade continued. “Then you show up today and want to play football. I was thrilled. Finally, I can impress you. After all playing sports is the only thing I’m good at; while you excel at writing, art, and every thing else. I mean the works you create will last forever and inspire people for generations. I’ll be forgotten the year after I graduate.” Jared stopped moving and looked directly at Ian. “Well I’ve got another joke to tell your friends. I have such an uncontrollable ego, I hoped the main character in Under the Quiet Surface was based on me. Isn’t that hilarious?” Ian shifted his body and looked away from Jared for the first time during his soliloquy. Ian’s blushing gave away his secret. “Really?” Jared asked.

“Really” Ian replied after a few anguish moments. Jared’s expression softened encouraging Ian to continue, “Don’t worry about being labeled a stalker. I’ve got a sketch pad full of your image and I haven’t missed a match of yours for the last two years. I think the title is mine.”

Jared laughed. “So you meant what you said this afternoon. It wasn’t a cruel joke.”

Ian smiled, “No joke. And when you said you loved me, you meant you loved me?

“Yes. Was there someone else in the room?” Jared asked.

Ian felt like he had been hit in the stomach. He was short of breath and his eyes filled with tears. “But why? You are so extraordinary and I’m so …uneventful,” Ian voice trailing off as looked at his feet.

Jared moved in front of Ian and pushed his chin up to look into his eyes. “Haven’t you heard a thing I’ve said? You had me since freshman year when we had Medieval Art together.” Jared smiled and pressed his body into Ian’s. “And did I mention how incredibly handsome and sexy you are?” Ian laughed and rolled his eyes. Jared could see Ian didn’t believe him. “Ian look at me,” the sternness in Jared’s voice made Ian obey his command. “You are not uneventful. When I look at you I hear the orchestra playing.” Jared lifted himself off of Ian and took several steps back with a strange smile on his face. He crossed his legs and did a quick spin. Then he started to sing slowly and softly, “But… if…. someone like you, found someone like me.” Ian thought Jared’s rough and out of tune voice was the most beautiful thing he ever heard. He couldn’t help but laugh as the tears rolled down his cheeks. “then suddenly nothing would ever be the same.” Ian joined Jared for their favorite line of the song. Jared laughed then continued alone, his voice becoming louder. “My heart would take wing, and I’d feel so alive.” He walked closer to Ian whispering, “If someone like you loved me, loved me.” Jared’s voice slowed until he was talking more than singing “loved me.” He took Ian’s face into his hands, wiping Ian’s cheeks dry with his thumbs. Jared kissed him deeply but gently. Ian’s mind and body was flooded with new feelings. All his nagging insecurities and doubts evaporated. He never felt more alive. It was better than a runner’s high and he was standing still, though his heart was beating a million times a minute. He thought this must be what it feels like to be truly happy and in love. Jared pulled his lips from Ian’s and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Ian laughed, “It feels more like the Fourth of July.”