I’m exhausted; it’s not that I’ve had to work at all today, but I can’t seem to put a definite halt to my mind’s laboring. There’s something wrong with me.
I was to spend yet another summer in the deep conundrum that was my hometown; a little dot in the road map undeserving of a name. The only interesting occurrence in the infamous manhole had been the birth of quadruplets this last spring, and before that my only source of pondering had been the bones behind my cousin’s house; she had instantly assumed that they belonged to “a living creature of magnanimous proportions; something you only see in movies and dream of when reading fiction”. She’d gained an interest in constantly moving these around the neighborhood - she loved testing our neighbors’ patience. I, however, had convinced her that such tomfoolery would only bring our family much unwelcome tribulation. The ‘patience trials’ ended soon after our talk.
I come from an extremely unexciting family. My dad is a 54 year-old homophobe whose only purpose in life is to submerge himself in numbers; he’s an accountant. My mother is two years younger than my father, and she teaches Calculus at the local high school. You would think that such logic-founded people would figure out their son without the smallest of complications, right? I’ve come to the conclusion that they either don’t have the smallest idea of my sexuality, or they’re buried in a deep and obscure pit of denial.
I’ve never had a girlfriend, and my only permanent contact with the opposite gender had been my cousin; she moved to a distant city 3 years ago, and would come visit only twice or thrice a year. Dharma was only two years younger than me, 15, and was the only one who knew about my sexuality. She was what you would call a ‘liberal’ female. My mother had often described her as rebellious, but whenever this was said in my presence, I would promptly contradict the ‘insult’:
“I wouldn’t call her ‘rebellious’. She doesn’t contradict every set norm placed on her. She …”
“She', my father interrupted rather abruptly, ‘is an individual, not the sole result of the stereotypical era into which she was born. She’s a liberal female of the 21st century.”
My father had a way with numbers, and an even more astounding skill with words. My mother had often questioned, as she always does with everything she doesn’t understand, his choice of career.
“I just don’t understand how he, amongst all writers, has decided to submerge himself in numbers - an artist who ends up working at a bank…”
I didn’t understand his choice, either. There was only one thing I understood about my father: he hated everything I was, from the moment I was born.
* * *
I waited patiently, at the foot of directions, for Dharma to arrive at the train station. There were only two means of reaching this pit hole: you either drove 40 miles from the closest city, or you got here by train.
The train had been a ‘tourism’ salvation for this town, I guess. My father had told me that, before its construction, the population of this town had been of less than 500 people. In just 20 years, the population had grown to an ‘amazing’ eight thousand and something inhabitants. Considering that this was most likely the most humdrum, wasteful excuse for a town in miles, it truly was astounding…
“Trevor!” the sudden burst of sound brought me out of my trance. “You must be really tired. The train got here five minutes ago, Dharma and her friend must be waiting for you already. Hurry up and look for them.”
I didn’t mind being told what to do, but the hellish shriek darting from that woman’s mouth was enough to put me in a bad mood. I stood up and looked around frantically for Dharma and… her friend??? She didn’t mention anyone!
“Trev, over here!” It was definitely Dharma’s voice. I looked to my far left, and found her standing there, isolated from everyone else except a boy - someone of indescribable appeal and beauty.
He had a somewhat conspicuous haircut, longer on the front and very short on the back. It almost looked like a Mohawk from the angle I was looking at him, but when I approached them it looked very appealing. He wore a t-shirt with an intricately designed banner - a colloquial-looking pattern - and faded jeans. I didn’t notice his shoes… let’s just say my eyes were caught on both the front AND back of his waist.
“Are you okay? You seem a little unbalanced” he said.
I quickly regained consciousness. His voice was extremely soothing, and I was surprised I didn’t just fall into his arms in consequence of that melodious sound. “Umm, I’m fine. Who are you?”
“Sorry, I guess my visit was kind of unexpected. My name is Micah.”
“Hi, my name is…” Oh lord, I forgot my name.
“Trevor” He interrupted, “Dharma’s told me a lot about you. We met three years ago when she moved to the city. She’s been trying to get me to come with her ever since. She said I might be interested in the people in this town.” He walked closer to Dharma, and I could see the slightest sign of a wink in his eyes. It must have been my imagination, or rather hopefulness.
Dharma looked as happy as ever, but I could see a tinge of jealousy in her smile. I’d known her my entire life and I could tell everything she felt, as if we were one person.
Mrs. Henderson drove us to her house, which only occupied about five minutes of the precious time that was left to enjoy.
This had been a unique opportunity: the magnanimous change in pace that would finally bring a little peace to my life. School had been troublesome these last three months; it all started when Dharma opened her mouth and told her ‘most trustworthy friend’ that I was gay. This friend told her friend, who told her friend, who finally told the entire student body.
“Dharma, do you have any idea why people have suddenly started questioning my sexuality?” I’d asked this question various times before - the difference was that this time, she wouldn’t be able to evade me. I drove to and back from school everyday, but this time I drove directly to my house and refused to drive her until she answered my question.
“I’m really sorry, I kind of told my friend the other day. I swear it wasn’t my intention for the entire school to find out… I just…” tears flowed down her cheeks, and I couldn’t help but hug her at that moment. “Do you forgive me?”
“I don’t know. Is it too much for you to keep a secret? You know what? It wouldn’t have bothered me so much, if only my parents hadn’t found out. You have no idea how these past few days have been at home.”
* * *
Everything was fine a couple of weeks ago. I was the typical, promiscuous High School student. I hadn’t only managed to keep my sexuality private, but actually fooled the entire school into thinking I was straight. It’d taken months to find someone in a similar situation, and when I finally found Amanda, I knew fooling people would be a lot easier.
Like me, she was gay. She hadn’t been as careful, but had a respectable reputation. We decided the best course of action would be to go out until the end of our senior year—we were juniors. I had no interest in a relationship at this moment, and apparently neither did she. Dharma had tried to dissuade me from my cover-up, saying that she would be a much better candidate.
Dharma was my best friend, and I had no intention of damaging our relationship. She seemed a little hurt by my rash decision, but she understood; or at least that’s what I thought.
Two days later, Amanda ‘broke up’ with me. Rumors had roused about my sexuality, and she didn’t want to get involved.
That day was Parent-Teacher night, so I would have to introduce my seven teachers to my parents, and they would have a brief talk about my academic prospects and future interests. As we entered the school, I noticed one of the school jocks waiting at the entrance; he gawked at me when I went past him. When I thought I was finally safe, I heard a distant shout from behind.
“Hey, you faggot!” I froze at the accusation. He ran towards me, and the last thing I felt was a rather sweaty fist hit my face.
I woke up in my bed, and thought it had all been a dream. The sight of both my parents at my bedside soon brought me to the realization that it hadn’t been a dream, but rather a reality that I had tried so hard to evade.
“We need to talk.”
* * *
“Dharma” said Mrs. Henderson, “you will be sleeping in the guest room. Trevor will share his room with you, Micah.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Henderson” I hastily added, “where can I put my luggage?” I looked to my right, and a rather nervous-looking Trevor was grabbing my bags, ready to take them to his room. At that moment, I wondered if Dharma had told Trevor that I was gay. I didn’t want this to be an inconvenience, especially since I was to spend the rest of the summer in that boy’s territory.
It was barely five, but I was really tired from the trip. It took us seven hours to get there, and since there weren’t any direct routes to the town, we had to board several different trains.
“Can I sleep in your bed for a while?” I asked, “I’m really tired from the trip, and in dire need of rest. Do you mind if I use it?”
His cheeks turned scarlet almost instantly; I think it took him a while to process the information. I was beginning to wonder if he had ADD or something of that sort - he always seemed to space out every time I spoke to him. He was looking down and seemed a little uncomfortable. I touched his shoulder, thinking that it would bring him back to consciousness, but he flinched and took a step backwards rather abruptly.
“Ummm… sure. Just make yourself comfortable.” That’s all he said before he dashed out of the room, with the most distraught expression I’d seen for months. The only remnant of his existence was some rather chaotic footsteps down the hall. I pulled some shorts and a T-Shirt out of my bag, and headed for his restroom. I quickly changed and went back to his room, the only place I’d be able to sleep in for months.
He made me nervous. I didn’t know anything about Micah, but I’d never felt anything close to this about anyone else. I could handle his looks, but when he spoke to me I felt an immeasurable tremor travel the length of my back. And now he was sleeping in my bed. I wonder if both of us will be sleeping in the same bed…
Mom and Dharma had left an hour ago to get some groceries, and I was left alone for another hour until dad got home from work.
I was about to dash into my room to get some clothes, but I remembered that Micah was sleeping, so I carefully opened the door and headed towards my closet. I grabbed my pajamas and headed towards the restroom. I hadn’t acquired the habit of locking the bathroom door, since I was an only child and the only one who used the hallway bathroom. I began to undress and was quickly down to my briefs, when suddenly the door slammed open and a flustered Micah ran towards the toilet.
I stood there watching Micah basically vomit what had been the little food he’d eaten in the entire day, and I completely forgot that I was standing there only in my briefs. He turned his body towards me until I could see his face. As he turned however, he brushed my leg with his forearm, and that was enough to elicit a reaction from me. I was too shocked to even try to cover the erection; I could see him blush as he quickly made his way out of the bathroom, finally leaving me to take a much needed shower.
It was nearly eight 8 o’clock when I finally finished with my shower, and I noticed my dad had arrived earlier today, possibly to introduce himself to Dharma’s friend. If Micah had been a girl, he wouldn’t have even made an effort to arrive earlier, but he’d assumed that Micah was Dharma’s boyfriend, therefore deserving a proper introduction.
Mother and Dharma had already returned by eight - apparently they’d stopped by a video-rentals store, and brought home a couple of horror clips for us to watch tonight. I was a little shaken by the episode with Micah earlier, so I just went back to my room and slept.
* * *
I’d woken up twice since I went to bed, but this time I found an unfamiliar bulge next to me in bed. I had a king-size bed, so I wasn’t really uncomfortable, but definitely nervous. I was facing Micah’s back, so I quickly shifted directions and moved towards my edge of the bed.
“Trevor, can I ask you a question?” Again, I felt the too-familiar tremor going down my spine. What kind of question would he ask me anyways? Had I been too obvious when I stared at him? “What do you do for fun around here?”
It took me a minute to process what he was asking me, since I’d obviously been expecting a much different question. “Well, it’s already one, so we can’t really do anything, unless you want to watch the other horror movie. I have a DVD player in this room, so if you wanna’ do that it’s fine with me.”
“Sorry about earlier, I didn’t know if anyone was in the bathroom, so I just walked in and…”
“And you vomited at the site of my nudity?” He laughed at my remark, which made me a little more calm.
“No, I just had a really bad nightmare. Sorry if it sounds childish; it had never happened to me. I promise I’ll knock on the door next time I need to use your toilet.” I smiled at that. I started to feel oddly comfortable next to him - the fact that he was sleeping in the same bed as me didn’t even bother me. “And, no. I don’t think your parents would appreciate the noise.”
“Well, we have a pool. If you want to, we can go swimming tomorrow morning.” I said, and before he could even say yes or no, I finally succumbed to a somewhat flawless sleep.
* * *
I lay there motionless, another epitomical voyage. All remaining imprecision, my voice, my gestures. Gone. Another sleepless night ahead; I did nothing, but succumbed.
Perdona que entré sin llamar,
no es esta la hora y menos el lugar.
Tenía que contarte que en el cielo no se está tan mal.
Mañana ni te acordarás,
" tan sólo fue un sueño" te repetirás.
Y en forma de respuesta pasará una estrella fugaz.
Y cuando me marche estará mi vida en la tierra en paz.
Yo sólo quería despedirme, darte un beso y verte una vez más...
Ahora debes descansar,
deja que te arrope como años atrás.
¿ Te acuerdas cuando entonces te cantaba antes de ir a acostar?
Tan sólo me dejan venir
dentro de tus sueños para verte a ti.
Y es que aquella triste noche no te di ni un adiós al partir.
Y cuando me marche estará mi vida en la tierra en paz.
Yo sólo quería despedirme, darte un beso y verte una vez más...*
I woke up at six in the morning. Dharma was already up, since she had fallen asleep half-way through the movie and I’d taken her to her bed by nine. She heard my steps and called me over to the kitchen, and directed me into the backyard.
“Micah, I still feel awful about outing you at school. Do you know why I brought you here?” she asked with a rather painful expression. I didn’t understand why she looked so sad, she seemed ecstatic when she saw Mrs. Henderson.
“Well, you’d been trying to bring me here since the summer of our freshman year. But other than that, I have no idea why you wanted me to come with you.” I really had no idea. I hadn’t wanted to come here the past two summers, since I had an ‘active’ social life - which basically consisted of acting straight, to contradict the growing suspicions.
“There’s something you don’t know about Trevor.” She said this half-smiling, half-grimacing.
“So, what is this ‘secret’ about Trevor that you haven’t told me? Is he a homophobe?” I said this quite disturbed, since I would be sharing a bed with Trevor for the rest of the remaining two months. The last thing I needed right now, was to deal with a homophobe.
“Not exactly. Remember all those times I tried to talk to you into getting a boyfriend? Well, I’d been trying to bring you here for that same exact reason. You see, I …”
* * *
As soon as he woke up, we headed towards the community pool. It was only a couple of blocks away from us, so we didn’t find the need to wake Mrs. Henderson from her deep slumber.
We arrived at the swimming pool in five minutes. The property was surrounded by a fragile-looking, yellow wooden fence on two sides of the lot, and the remaining two sides were surrounded by bathrooms and a concrete wall—this was lined with brittle white benches. It certainly wasn’t the most cheerful sight, but it would suffice for this morning’s exercise.
He quickly made his way to bathrooms to change, but when I tried to follow him he suddenly paralyzed.
“What are you doing?” he asked. The question didn’t anger me, since I didn’t sense malice from it, but I felt a little offended.
“I’m changing into my swimming trunks - I assume you’re heading to do the exact same thing.” I said, with the slightest hint of annoyance. I didn’t wait for an answer - I rushed into the restroom and began undressing.
I reached into my bag for the sun block, red swimming trunks, and goggles. I was only in my briefs when Trevor came in. The adrenalin, however, prevented any response I would usually have in this type of situation.
He hadn’t even taken off his shoes by the time I had my trunks on. Apparently, he was waiting for me to apply the sun block and leave, so he could comfortably change into his swimming trunks. I stood there, bamboozled by the childish trepidation, unmoved by his apparent anxiety.
“I need to change” he said, “and I don’t think you’d like to see me naked.”
I was about to ricochet his statement, but I unmistakably felt every ounce of blood in my body flow into my face. I hurriedly put my clothes and sun block into my backpack and dashed outside.
I applied sun block to every reachable inch of skin, but I couldn’t reach my back. I found myself obligated to ask Trevor the infamous favor, but he wasn’t yet done changing. When he finally came out, I was reapplying some sun block on my legs after a couple of laps.
“Trevor, could you rub this on my back?” I asked, trying to hold back my hysterics at the sight of his blushing. It was at least two minutes before he took the bottle and put some on the palm of his hand. He quickly applied it and walked towards the pool.
As he made his way to the pool, I couldn’t help but notice his golden tan. Every millimeter of his skin was a golden tan; his legs covered in specks of golden thread. His back was muscular, slightly arched on both ends—where it ended at his neck and butt. The spell was finally broken as he jumped into the pool, splashing water all over me.
After two hours of restless swimming, I finally made my way to the restrooms. I’d brought a complete change of clothes: socks, boxers, jeans, and a t-shirt. There were showers in the bathroom, slightly separated from the main changing area, and from each other, by a thin plastic curtain. I quickly undressed and made my way into the small cubicle, just in time to avoid Trevor coming into the changing area, and possibly another scene.
I turned the water on, but the freezing water’s impact with my warm skin caused me to slip and, inevitably, fall. As I fell, I could feel my body suspended in midair, and the warm feeling of someone else’s skin against mine. I looked up, only to discover my savior’s uncontrollable blush. I could feel a growing erection against my lower back, but elicited no reaction.
Our embrace lasted for at least ten minutes. I ran my hands up and down his arms, the inescapable rage of my teenage hormones finally taking control. I closed my eyes, and could feel his hands running through my pectorals, abs, and finally stopping at my navel.
There were no words—our bodies captivated in an endless dance. When I thought I couldn’t hold on any longer, he let go. I heard the inimitable sound of a creaking fence, and panicked. We quickly separated, and I took a last gawk at his body before he disappeared into the furthest shower.
When we came out, we were met by a slightly annoyed Dharma.
Dharma had demanded that we return to the house. Apparently, her and mother had been invited to a gathering at my aunt’s. The house was not to be left alone at any time, so naturally, Micah and I had to stay at home until dad arrived.
The drive from earlier was completely gone. Twenty minutes ago I felt a passion I’d never felt before, but now the only thing in my system was sheer panic. I couldn’t believe I had commenced a sexual encounter with a complete stranger. I needed to keep my distance from Micah.
I went to bed as soon as we got home. I needed some time to rethink what I’d done earlier, and the implications of whatever bond I now shared with Micah—a bond that pierced my bones and whose thought brought me to a state of bliss, all in an exquisite harmony. Micah was in the restroom, so I took the opportunity to grab another set of sheets from mother’s room, so we wouldn’t have to be completely unguarded from each other.
I was already half-asleep when he came out of the restroom. I heard him walk towards the door, and realized that part of me wanted him to stay, to stay as close as possible, but part of me feared the possibility of another encounter. He stopped in front of the door, and I heard the switching position of the knob’s lock. We were alone, and I could feel myself less and less afraid. I turned around, but before I was completely facing him, he stopped me; I could feel the bed yield its mass to fit both our bodies. We clenched tight, his embrace soothing all the doubts racing through my mind. I fell victim to a soundless doze.
* * *
I was shaken by the sound of an opening garage door. I looked over at the clock: 6:30 pm. It was hard to believe, that a life of loneliness could be easily fixed by a six-hour-long embrace. I tried freeing myself from him, but I couldn’t help waking him up.
“Where are you going?” He asked, a little stunned by my sudden movement.
“He has a key to every door in this house. He would kick both of us out if he found out.” I replied, suddenly terrified at my own response.
I couldn’t tell him anything about me; I knew he would hate me. He would hate me for something that his own genes had imposed on me. Coming out was not an option in my situation, at least not to my dad. I could tell mother, but I just wasn’t close to her. Right now, the only people who mattered were Dharma… and Micah.
I closed the door behind me and headed for the kitchen. There, mother and Dharma were already setting the table for dinner. In the schizophrenic state I was in, I didn’t realize that it was much too early for dad to arrive. I went back to the room, where a confused Micah patiently waited for my return. I shut the door behind me and headed for the bed, but before reaching it I stopped for a second to take my shirt off.
Micah quickly followed, and once again he spooned behind me, squinting a little at the immediate contact with my cold back.
In a fraction of a second, the door slammed open, and a shaken Dharma stared at both of us, with a helpless and lachrymose expression. I was stunned at her reaction, since she’d always known I was gay; perhaps she didn’t know about Micah. I looked for a million reasons, but couldn’t excuse her reaction. Before Micah or I could even say a word, she dashed out and locked herself in the guest room.
* * *
The incident had happened a mere three weeks ago, and the tension in the small house had grown to greater proportions. To prevent any more confrontations, Micah switched places with me every three nights: one of us would sleep on the floor, or on the living room sofa, and the other one would take the bed. Dharma had found it necessary to check up on us every now and then, as if she needed reassurance that we weren’t together.
Dad would get home at the usual schedule: a monotony that left Micah and I some time alone. Dharma would refuse any invitations from mother, but she always ended up going. One thing about my mother was that nobody said no to her. Dharma tried to contradict mother on various occasions, but soon realized that denying her was an impossible task; a mission only apt for, but sometimes not, dad.
I was a little worried, however, that Dharma would tell my mother about me being gay, since they were spending so much time together. Even though I felt angst every time she spied on me or Micah, I had to shut my mouth, just so she wouldn’t open hers. Dharma had become one of the only preoccupations in my simple life; she’d transformed it into a hectic hell.
* * *
The fifth week brought a most gruesome trial.
It was a Thursday morning. As normal for a Thursday, I woke up on the floor, covered in a ragged sleeping bag. The night before had been completely normal. Immediately after locking the door, Micah and I enjoyed the last few minutes before Dharma’s habitual check-up. Eleven-thirty; we were in our places, waiting for an almost unnoticeable knock on the door. This was immediately followed by a peep, a heavy sigh, and a hand sliding inside with the intention to fool both Micah and I - a rather effective form of insult, if you ask me. The door was once again locked, and the faceless figured slid once again into the darkness.
After this, I stood from the devouring sleeping bag, to enjoy a last embrace before yielding to my nightmares.
The nightmares usually consisted of a solitary doppelganger. Enshrouded in shadows, I ran towards a light that I never quite reached. Various times, the only direct contact I had with my twin was the inclusion of my thoughts and they’re immediate conversion into action. Sometimes I was the one running, feeling a presence inside me. The presence somehow made the dreams more restless. The more I thought, the further the light seemed. And at the end of the dream, I was ultimately engulfed by complete darkness, the light at the end of the tunnel finally vanishing into non-existence.
This night had been different, however. It was more like returning to the beginning. I couldn’t help but react to the similarities in my first nightmare. The similarities seemed…off, however. I had a different feeling. Something ominous. The atmosphere deemed itself of a somewhat crescent mourning—not quite complete. Instead of a personality split, I was my complete self, running from the light, embracing the darkness.
I looked over at the clock: 10:00 am. One last yawn and I was carelessly standing, folding the sleeping bag as I made my way to the closet. I opened the door, threw the sleeping bad in its permanent corner, and grabbed a change of clothes. I headed towards the shower, and, as usual, an enthusiastic Micah met me, eagerly clinging to my bottoms.
It had become ritualistic, after five weeks of sleeping in the same room. Micah would wake up with anticipation, purposefully making noise while on his way to the shower. I would then wake up, either fold my sleeping bag or do the bed, and head towards the shower. This was done in perfect synchrony, of course, day by day.
He was already naked, stripping me from the privilege of taking every article with my own hands. Before I knew it, my shorts were down on my ankles, and I was resiliently raising my arms, waiting for the t-shirt to be violently stripped. The water was already running, filling the entire bathroom with vapor and humidity. Before I knew it, I was completely erect, and being led into the shower—the place where it would be unconditionally taken care of. I stepped in, the contact with the hot water only increasing my sexual anxiety.
* * *
I exited the room, both energized and exhausted by the thirty-minute ‘cleansing session’, while Micah waited the customary five minutes. I went to the kitchen, where mother was already serving breakfast on the counter: three plates set right next to each other. This morning’s meal would be pancakes. I took the middle one, to ensure separating Micah and Dharma, and also secure my place next to him.
Micah got to the kitchen with an angered look. He sat down to my right, but made no motion to approximate. I finally moved my stool closer to him, brushing his leg against mine continuously, with the excuse of being guiltlessly swinging both of my legs.
“I called Dharma to come for breakfast, but she didn’t answer.” Micah seemed a little worried, even if it was for Dharma.
“If you want I can go check on her, honey. Could you make sure the pancakes don’t burn?” mother said, with a complacent look she only gave to strangers.
Micah nodded, and immediately stood up and took charge of the Teflon. He turned his head towards me, winking various times as he leaned forward to pick up the random droppings. First it was a napkin, then a spoon…
“She says she’ll be out in a couple of minutes. She’s taking a bath, supposedly.”
We ate our breakfast, with mom talking about the neighborhood gossip in between our conversations. Her attention was directed towards Micah’s background for a minute, but he quickly brushed her off.
I was worried about Dharma. I couldn’t keep on blinding myself - I didn’t like pretending like I was oblivious, and even less doing it to my best friend. Before breakfast, I knocked on Dharma’s door. She didn’t answer. I knocked louder - still no answer. There was a whole restroom in conjunction with the room, so I knew there was a possibility that she was either taking a shower or bathing. I kept knocking, thinking she would hear me, but I received no response.
When I arrived at the counter, I was greeted by a smiling Trevor. I couldn’t return that smile. The fact that I’d been ignored by one of the most important people in my life tore me apart. I hated the expression on Trevor’s face, after seeing no viable response from his radiant smile. I simply sat down, immediately approached by Trevor. Any kind of contact with him relaxed me. Feeling my leg brushing his was more of a comfort than a turn-on.
I explained the little travesty to both him and his mom, and she quickly offered to check up on her. I took the moment to tease Trevor a little.
She was quickly back, with the news that Dharma had answered her, and said she would be out in a couple of minutes. Apparently, she’d been taking a bath. Mrs. Henderson quickly went on to initiate unwanted conversations, and inquire about many things I’d like to forget about my past. With every question came a broken answer from me. She stopped her questionnaire shortly after.
It had been nearly an hour after all of us had finished with breakfast, but there was no trace of Dharma. I remembered Trevor telling me that his parents had a key to every door in the house. The keys were usually placed on a cow-shaped holder next to the front door. There were three sets of keys: the first set only contained two keys, one was the key to Mrs. Henderson’s car, and the other one the key to the house; the second set contained only one key, this was Trevor’s house key; the third set, however, consisted of many bronze keys.
Mrs. Henderson was long-gone for the supermarket, with the excuse of buying unneeded groceries. The fridge was full; this however, was her excuse to meet and devour all the gossip that this town gave fruit to. I’d learned from her mentioning that she’d heard of most of the gossip where congregations of housewives were usually found; thus, my supermarket deduction.
Trevor was watching TV in the room while I washed the breakfast dishes. I took the chance to grab the bronze keys and quickly headed towards Dharma’s room. As I approached the bedroom door, I could smell humidity in the air. The door was locked, naturally, so I had to try several different keys before finding the one that opened that particular door. I could hear water running inside the restroom.
The bed was neatly done, and all her things were packed inside her luggage already. I didn’t think she wanted to leave, and if it was because of me, then I would have to leave in her place.
The carpet surrounding the bathroom door was damp. I could hear my shoe soles squealing as I tried feverishly to twist the moistened knob. My efforts were useless. By the time I could finally open the door, a good portion of the bedroom carpet was already inundated.
A final sight brought to a state of panic. The floor-doomed water was pigmented a transparent red; the tub was covered with a flowery curtain. The bottom was already stained a deep red, becoming lighter as it traveled upwards. I couldn’t open the curtain—instead, I started walking backwards towards the door, every step marking a reminiscence of Dharma’s gone existence. I couldn’t keep my balance once I reached the carpet; my body, already feeling lightly gone, was stripped away from me. I gave in into the longest notion.
* * *
I felt my tears, my anguish, pilfered by the softest touch. Tears that died once in his hand; I wished I was those tears. I yearned that crook to strip me from this misery, and take my life with him once more.
My life felt like a poem made from stolen sheets, of ancient ink. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be within myself; I’d rather fly away and see myself shed tears in vain.
I couldn’t keep from thinking. The restlessness from months ago was once again returning to me. If I could’ve done it at that moment, I would’ve left my bed and yelled all types of profanities in the hospital hallway. If I could’ve done it, I would’ve sold my memories, just so SHE wouldn’t linger in me anymore, crying for help in silence.
The door knob turned almost unknowingly, and for a moment I thought that it was Dharma, here to see if I was cuddling with Trevor. I couldn’t see his face much more nowadays. They looked so much alike; I thought I would start crying every time I saw him. He suffered just as much as I did, but I couldn’t help but think that he was here for torture.
“Micah” he said, “I’m going to the cafeteria, do you want anything to eat? The doctor said you would be fine to come back to the house tomorrow, if that’s okay with you.” The only person in this world who really knew me was Dharma. She’d left me here, and passed my only gift to Trevor.
“I’ll be fine. At what time are we leaving tomorrow?” I asked. I wasn’t exactly happy about having to go back to his house, but I only had four more days ‘til I should board that train again.
“We’ll leave as soon as you’d like. He also said you’d be fine if we left tonight, but that’s up to you.” He said.
Tomorrow would be hectic, and we needed each other through the night; a heavenly embrace my only reason to return. “Let’s go.”
* * *
Considering the length of a tie, it could be easily used to hang yourself from a tree branch, given it was strong enough to hold your weight. Mine was black, and could easily blend in with the crowd of sorrows loitering around the cemetery.
We made our way through the crowd, one black tie after another; a suicidal parade of sorrowing souls, if you ask me. The suits were assembled by a black jacket, with black pants, and sometimes matching black shoes. You could clearly see the intrepid standouts from a distance, if only you could identify which ones were wearing brown shoes. Sometimes, even, you would see a pair of pearl-white earrings. The atmosphere was quite cheerful; you could clearly sense tears of happiness if you could touch her mother’s cheeks.
The reason, however, had been hidden from everyone else, except my parents and Trevor’s. Their acceptance was quite astonishing, as they were too affected by Dharma’s death to even pay tribute to their homophobic impulses. Given different circumstances, I would’ve dressed celebratory, for the occasion of course. This time was different however.
It was a normal service, for what her parents considered a ‘normal’ teenager.
There were a few words from the religious figure. Dharma hated religion; she found it obsolete. We would spend our Sunday mornings, days, and evenings, doing whatever pleased us. Instead of giving in to a monotonous mass, we cherished life; something she’d stripped herself from. There were never any conversations concerning religion, except the occasional classroom Darwin debate; an inevitable turn of topic every time it was brought forth.
There was a rather depressing song, the tale of a fallen angel. Dharma wanted to fly. Her most eccentric dream had been to reach the skies, to succeed as a famous writer. Her tale was none other of a defiant human, climbing through the odds—it wasn’t that of a fallen angel. It was sung by a lady possibly in her mid-thirties. Dharma wanted youth; she cherished every moment in her life, and helped me cherish mine. The last thing I would’ve done for her is hire a woman twice her age to dedicate a depressing song at her funeral.
The coffin was brought down, and earthed at top speed, while many people threw lilies and condoles to both the grave and the anguished parents.
The day was filled with white lilies and hypocritical smiles. I spent most of it in Trevor’s room. Two days were left before my leave. My parents had left as soon as the funeral ended, and I could still see the pained expression on their faces.
A couple of people came into the room, to express their ‘deep deep anguish’. Instead of hearing words of empathy, their voice expressed more of a late ‘congratulations’.
The lights were gone, and with them every single guest at the funeral. I stood up from the bed, left the room, and headed towards the door. I left making no audible sound, and headed towards the cemetery.
I walked for thirty minutes. Not a sole pair of headlights in the distant hills. I stood directly above the earthed coffin; as soon as I realized it, I jumped off, as if anticipating a hand taking quick grasp of my ankle. I took seat at conveniently close boulder, with my elbows fiercely piercing through my tired knees. I sat there, thoughtless, without sentiment, and on the verge of hidden tears. I refused to cry, however, as if to save the sanctity of her grave.
I heard a motor coughing in the distance, turned my head, and saw a pair of lightly dimmed headlights. I didn’t care for the vehicle; any spec of light in this sea of darkness was a menacing omen.
Two minutes later, a shapeless silhouette sat next to me, pushing me slightly forward as our backs united. I felt the familiar growth of heat, and realized it was Trevor.
I stood there, pondering, and desiring to think less confusing thoughts, a more expressionless expression on my face.
It happened so quickly, I barely had any time to process the information. No tears, no fury, no desperation; something I would’ve expected.
In the midst of a chaotic crowd trying to go back to their homes, I said my goodbyes to my love. A repeated adieu, as I realized letting go would be harder than I thought. He wore the same clothes from our meeting, the same hairdo, but no Dharma. This time, however, I took notice of his shoes, and even glimpsed a little at his socks. I stamped the visual essence in my brain, trying not to forget before he left me.
We exchanged numbers, he gave me his address. There was already a scheduled meeting in late September. Just thinking of the autumn leaves chilled my spine instantly, giving me a last taste of that too-familiar tremor. We stood there, leaning on each other, oblivious of the outside gawks and distasteful grins, waiting for the time of his departure.
“I think I forgot my name again.” As I said this, with the intention of a little sarcasm, I felt a tear suddenly flow down my cheek. This time, it was his hand that vanished the crystalline distress.
“It’s Trevor.” He said this, just as various people around us stood up and headed towards the newly-arrived train. He stood up and grabbed his bag, kissing my cheek on the way, and finally leaving towards the iron titan.
I sat there, waiting. I could’ve waited a lifetime for him to return.
I could’ve waited, only desperate, for him to leave the train.
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