personal blog: simon
on Bryan’s block. my hesitation keeps me at my post as Jacob’s fingers interlaced with mine left a warm imprint. the affection imparted and I hate Jacob for it.
a little muddled, I type the letters, “hi. I’m downstairs.”
the buzzer goes off and the glass door automatically begins to open. the common mechanism in every condominium building. a security guard sitting in the middle of the lobby behind a 25-foot eucalyptus log with aluminum accent squares in the centre. a satin aluminum recessed base. clear glass transaction counter on metal stand-offs dropped on the side of the security. looks pricey anyhow. environmental. a glossy white wall reflecting the light behind the counter… and I nod to the guard, admiring the geometry of things, walking to the elevators briskly as a man on a mission. one mission. numb every emotion.
“hi,” Bryan whispered, veering his eyes from me up to the ceiling.
“hi,” I replied, coy, gazing up myself, mirroring Bryan’s nonchalant expression yet guardedly wishing I could be as cool and charming. I covered my mouth with a pillow, feeling I was part of something for once, something outside the group home. outside my miserable life. part of the ‘normies’ and getting attention from Bryan was an honour. a badge to be seen as normal.
“you’re silly,” Bryan twisted his sweater to a knot, composing his laughter and I smiled at the matter that I made someone other than Jacob laugh. quite proud of the moment. submerging my whole face into the pillow.
Bryan seems a little chipper opening the door. I enter a little guarded. the common area seems catastrophic and chaotic. the grocery store boxes in various sizes scattered around the room.
“are you moving?” I ask.
“no,” and with that Bryan smiles. “cleaning up… nice surprise seeing you.”
smooth transition. “in the neighbourhood,” I answer.
“yes,” Bryan nods. “you said.” his reservation slightly heightened.
the photo of Bryan and his ex, now gone. only an empty frame remains on the shelf.
“sit,” sounds like a command and do not comply. besides, I cannot sit. I cannot stay still or at least my insides keep on whirling. Bryan removes the articles of clothing, nicely folded, from the armchair, then heads to the kitchen, shuffling between the sink and the table, before settling and inquiring concerned, “are you okay?”
as Bryan stands posted half-hunched over a chair, my own unsettling brews. I need him to touch me. I need him to make a move so I can use his touch as a weapon, a short-lived relief for my hollowness but words need to be expelled before I can let him know of my mission. but, I cannot craft anything seductive or clever. “yeah,” I casually answer.
Bryan returns to the kitchen, fetching the glasses and I examine the room. my fingers jitter. my throat tightens. the whispers in my head scream.
“I feel like I’m in a therapist office… a confessional,” I jest.
“sure, in my mess… you got any sins?” Bryan chuckles and hands me a half-filled glass of water and leans against the bookshelves. a box filled to the brim with knick-knacks to his right, on top of some towels.
I wrap my palm at the base of the glass and lean to the opposing wall, half amused, half wary. the translucent curtains drape the window allowing the moon to peek as it begins to fall behind the clouds. only the reflection of me on the glass patio door stares back from the sideways, a skewed blur of me.
unmoved and unspoken for a moment, the music of the streets and cars pours gently in. strange to be in Bryan’s presence and not be admired, not to be smitten.
Bryan’s eyes now held on me; jaw tight, mute, assembling me; and it’s beginning to petrify me.
“do you regret it?” I ask.
Bryan’s widened eyes pretty much convey that he doesn’t know what I’m referring to.
“the weekend?” I clarify.
“no,” Bryan answers rocking his head side to side.
“we didn’t do a lot.”
“we talked. it was pleasant… we were children.”
as if that should make everything seem irrelevant.
Bryan continues, “I was twenty-five. you were eighteen… a child and scared. it would have been taking advantage of you.”
“you could have asked for permission.”
“it wasn’t right. didn’t feel right.”
“because of Jacob?”
“what do you mean?” Bryan asks.
“because of what happened to him?”
“no. I thought it would have been disrespectful to you and Jacob to sleep with you on the day we first met, especially with the house full of people. believe me, I got an earful from Jacob the next day.”
I’m slightly delighted at the thought of Jacob being tough, threatening.
the monumental silence; either an invitation or a rejection. the room darkens as the moonlight completely vanishes. the junk in the room once identifiable, now obscure shapes. the shadowy images of me and Bryan but our eyes lighten staring across the room at each other. my staring head-on, Bryan’s wisped to a cautious bow.
Bryan’s skin was unmasked, unmarked, undamaged, perfect. I held on to it, explored it, feral in my provocation, abating my sensibility; and Bryan abetted it, casually sweeping across the constellation of freckles on my pale back, tracing a map to the stars. that’s what he called them, ‘stars’. I nervously grinned fearing that I wasn’t good, that I wasn’t worthy, dipping my face into the pillow, hiding, but Bryan kept on drawing along my spine, between my shoulder blades, up to my nape. “hi,” his soft breath hit my cheek. “we don’t have to do anything.” a gentle whisper. “I don’t want to do anything,” Bryan rephrased.
“why?” my cheeks burning but I was taunting him.
Bryan knew I was bluffing, “have you ever been intimate?”
“no,” I couldn’t stop but be honest, but to test him.
“you shouldn’t give yourself for nothing. you have worth,” and he retreated his fingers, brushing a strand from my eyes, then painting along the bridge of my nose.
“what if I wanted you?”
“then, I couldn’t,” he smiled. “I took an oath… plus, Jacob would kill me.”
“he better,” and I had to be the first one to intercept Bryan’s smile with my attack. I had to be in control. my rules had to be followed. I had to kiss him first and he refuted lightly, only to allow me to be my subject to examine his mouth, his neck, his chest, his arms, and nothing more. on my terms.
and here we are again. a lingering towing of consideration as much as I am apprehensive of Bryan’s response, I settle the untouched water of glass on the side table. with the protracted paces, I cease evaluating my options. my innate character to survive takes over, doing what I do best. I lunge forward, almost flinging my whole body onto Bryan’s, like Kevin used to do, trapping me against the wall, and I hated it. but, here I am doing the same thing.
the vast gamut of memories veering my intention and I freeze, only to be met by Bryan’s abstruse gaze. Bryan’s touch like ice on my cheek and his forehead on mine bridging the space between them. “I can’t,” Bryan mutters. “I can’t,” he echoes.
a direct hit to my esteem as I woundedly protest, “why? because of what happened to me?”
Bryan nudges, exhaling softly, “because I don’t want to be one of your casualties.”
my affected nerves and I pull away creasing my hoisted expectations, crumbling them gone.
“Simon.” the call of my name, tempting, gentle that I almost revert, but Bryan continues, “I was in a seven-year relationship… and you just broke up with your boyfriend… I know how these things unfold.” Bryan rationalizes, “and I can’t be that guy, a one-night-stand, a tumultuous passionate moment.”
I never cared to get to know someone’s qualms, tics, nuances. it’s like I’m programmed to stay cavalier, but, I feel a lecture coming, a reprimand for all the years I avoided the lessons. after all, I wasn’t educated about adulthood and the entailment of such condition, specifically when it came to relationships. it’s not like I had an exemplary archetype exhibited by my parents. my mother was cold and my father a monster. neither of them was affectionate, at least only when they needed something in return.
“do you always move on so quickly?”
“no,” well that is honest.
“then what is this?”
first Jacob, now Bryan. I’m already on the edge.
“an erasure,” I answer.
again silence. my silence but I finally mutter, like a child would mutter to parent after being scolded, all muffled and scared, “I told you.”
“Simon,” again the call of my name but this time in pain and pitiful understanding. Bryan continues to enlighten, “resolving your past is not a day session. I do this for a living with patients who have gone through dramatic experiences and seeing the outcomes of abuse. it’s scarring.”
“am I your patient?”
“no… of course not,” Bryan answers as if my question was most absurd. “I would like to get to know you.”
such a simple explanation. such a riveting revelation. all the blood rushes from my fingertips. my mouth twitches. my heart hastens. ‘get to know you.’ I’m a secret that should never be open. ‘get to know you!’ four petrifying words and almost as equally infuriating as Jacob’s ‘sorry.’ “yeah, you said,” another mutter.
“but not like this,” and Bryan switches on another lamp, emitting more light into the room. the pastel blue of Bryan’s top loosely fitted. his arms hanging to his sides. “you got to let your guard down. I bet you never disclosed what happened to you as a child to anyone you were with. you don’t seem…”
… over it. I finish Bryan’s thought and canvass the room. this time it looks smaller than before with all the clutter and Bryan looks small within it. the only man who sees me, sees that there is more to me that I allow people to see. maybe Jacob’s wounds are all up on display; mine, however, are etched in my memories, snippets of torn images. “no, I haven’t,” I answer, without being asked.
“that’s a huge weight to carry around on your own.”
“a burden… it’s easier. that way I’m not broken,” tucking in my emotions, I stand immobile, petrified, because it only means one thing. I have to feel but all of that is foreign to me. “I thought you didn’t want to take advantage because I was tainted… a decade ago… two nights ago… and you used Jacob as an excuse.”
“is that what you do? random hookups? because it’s easier… because they never had to find out… because they never had that to use against you? is that what you want here? close the unfinished business? erase what you said to me a decade ago, so I treat you like all the other men?” all said in that typical therapist matter, the soothing and controlled tone. rehearsed. judgeless. pensive.
“because you were nice,” I interject a lie because I wanted him to erase all of my feelings and if I have to lie to get that I will. but, I know I cannot fool Bryan that easily.
“hmm,” a grunt… and then there they are, the pitying eyes. the ones that I detest. Bryan’s pitying eyes tainting the image of me. the subtle strike on my character crumbles me, leaving me angrier and hurt, realizing that I do not hold resolution to my past. if anything, I’m drowning in it.
the cascading thoughts, as I must speak, say something, answer, where all I’m capable of is running. another unjust response. sliced into directions, spinning like atop until all my parts spill… and I storm angrily, lashing out, as if what Bryan has said was offensive, “so, you can hate me?” a miff to hedge around the truth and I get to the door. a quick escape but I halt in the hallway.
Bryan staggers to the doorway, calling gently, “Simon.”
I know if I turn around it will become a battle.
the elevator could not be slower but Bryan remains at the doorway. if he makes a move to follow me to the hallway, I have decided to make for the staircase. I will run all the twenty flights of stairs to escape his eyes, his touch, his sensible judgment… because how dare he? how dare he bring what I shared with him in confidence a decade ago? how dare he draws the truth that has been eating my nights?
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© simon whittle — second act