story teller: benjamin and bassel

blue bubble calamity clean

Benjamin & Bassel: Winter Home

love story. street life. mood swings. looking for home.

The wanderlust and imagination. “We can be anywhere!” Baz shouts. “Just close your eyes.”

As the string lights above us glow, the mood is quite sweet. My first real vacation, but we can’t afford much.

The tent pitched in the corner of the room. It was Baz’s idea. A clever one, I must admit.

“We’re finally home,” he chips it into the conversation.

The blankets and pillows cushion the hard floor but still remind me of the first tent, the hand-me-down tent, under the freeway. The night was cold, bitter, and unapologetic. At least we had food, sweets, and water that kept us full for three whole days. The sleeping bags kept on getting soggy and ripped as the days went on. I had to figure it all out as Baz huddled closer and held on tight.

“The beach.” The room fills with sounds of waves and I imagine the sand between my toes.

Warmth was always scarce and now we have plenty of it at the brink of winter. Shelter, the commodity we so easily take for granted until you lose your home, your family.

“What did the doctor say? Can you still use the benefits?” I ask.

“Yeah. Only if I come in every other Tuesday. They have support groups, too. Life skills and cooking classes. It sounds interesting… and they’re free as long as I qualify… but… you know…” Baz points to his head. “It shouldn’t be a problem.”

“That’s good.”

“Yeah. I’m so glad you’d be home for the next two days. We can camp out here and eat marshmallows.”

“I should get some hot chocolate.” For a moment I fall into Baz’s dreamland and it’s nice. Worry-free. I can imagine the sunset and the stars above us. The calm of the ocean and the quiet of the night. I feel peace and postponed attraction to Baz. With living in dirt and Baz’s ups and downs, there wasn’t much time left for intimacy. Although, many nights Baz fell asleep curled close to me for warmth and hush. I missed him.

“Can we decorate for the holidays?” And just like that Baz interrupts my thoughts. “I left some room for a Christmas tree in the other corner. It doesn’t have to be tall. Just large enough to make an impression.”

I laugh and say, “You ask for permission for something you already going to do,” and turn to admire him.

“I never know when you’ll say no,” he answers with absolute seriousness and complete unawareness of my tease. At times he forgets to read the cues and person’s behaviour. Maybe because his mind tends to jump from one thought to another within an instance. Or maybe he’s avoiding me. “I want to have as much as we can in case we lose it. It’s surreal.” Then again, it’s survival.

“Is that why you’re hoarding non-perishables?”

“It’s obvious, huh? What if this all ends?” Baz’s question is filled with truth and possibility. “Everything was wretched. I don’t want to go back there… Plus, I lost time. I lost us. I don’t want to lose us.”

I fold my arm like a post and pin my head to my palm. The luminescence of the string bulbs casts enough light over Baz’s face to magnify his blushed cheeks. The atmosphere cannot be more magical but Baz’s somber eyes stop me and I lay my ear to his chest. He combs his fingers through my hair once and gently.

“Thank you,” Baz whispers.

The sound of the waves imprisons me once again and then Baz’s heartbeat brings me back to reality. I lift my head to meet Baz’s eyes but he has closed them trapped in his moment. No more dirt. No more cold. No more wretchedness. And I extend my neck a little just to graze Baz’s no more chapped dry lips. Rather soft and warm.

All the mess. All the past. All the hurt, anger, and worry. Suspended. Forgotten. And for now, we are home.

© Jacob Greb — 2022

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