Wednesday Briefs 02/26/14
In both my novels, Unbroken and What Binds Us, I introduced young men who fall in love and explored the resulting romance. In this flash fiction piece, "Revelations," I wanted to explore the process of falling in love in reverse. Feel free to share the story using the share buttons at the end of the story, or leave a comment telling me what you think.
Jason walked into the bathroom, and and retrieved his dopp kit from under the sink . He placed it on the counter. Opening the medicine cabinet, he caught his reflection in the mirror, and stopped to look at himself. He ran a finger over his bare upper lip. He still hadn’t grown accustomed to his new look. He’d had a mustache since he was nineteen. Now, his upper lip looked naked and vulnerable, as naked and vulnerable as he felt much of the time lately.
No longer young, not yet old, he occupied that netherworld between the infirmity of age and the vigor of youth. Trembling as he was on the edge of invisibility, he no longer caught the attention of young men with gym-toned bodies and expensively styled, messy hair. For a while the glances of old men had cheered. Then he realized that to them, too, he was invisible, for when they looked at him, at his still smooth skin, his firm chin, they saw not him, not a still handsome man in his prime, but their former remembered selves, the ghost, as it were, of Christmas past. Then, he’d met Michael.
Simon walked into the bathroom and met Jason’s gaze in the mirror.
“We should talk—we need to talk, Jayce.”
Jason laughed. The sound was bitter, dry. “Funny, now you want to talk. Now when it’s too—”
“What? When it’s too late?”
“When it’s too late, yes.”
Simon glanced past Jason and at his own reflection. He’d been gorgeous once. Then, older, he’d been described as “craggily handsome.” No more. Not now. Now, he was just craggy; his skin fell in stiff heavy folds about his skull and neck, and laid there in freckled exhaustion. For decades he’d gone hatless in the California sun—the better to show off his blonde locks, sweat-dampened and glorious when playing tennis and, equally gorgeous, when windswept while sailing or striding down Rodeo Drive, an assistant laden with bags and boxes, trailing in his wake like a human pack mule.
Turning away from the mirror, Simon wondered what Jason saw when he looked at him, wondered if he saw him at all. “Jayce, what happened to us?”
Jason didn’t know. All he knew was that one night, watching Simon sleep, he been suddenly afraid he’d remained in the same place too long. When they’d first met, the sun, bright and strong and white, had been behind him, his shadow cast in front, long and determined, like the promise of his future. Now, the sun seemed in front of him, his shadow, squat and dark, and like his early promise, behind him.
“I don’t know, Simon.” Jason put the last few items in his dopp kit, and zipping it shut squeezed past Simon.
“You can’t be serious about this boy—For God’s sake, he wasn’t even born when you graduated from college!” Simon followed him into their bedroom.
Jason went to the bureau and began emptying a drawer.
Simon looked at him, then glanced at the open suitcase on their bed and Jason was suddenly embarrassed by the underwear, brightly colored micro trunks with a touch of spandex—neatly folded and stacked—which made him feel not young but sexy, desirable and which gripped him firmly like a lover’s hand, making his dick look bigger, his ass tighter .
“You don’t have to leave you know,” Simon said. “We could try again.”
Placing a handful of shirts into the suitcase, Jason asked, “Try again?”
“We could go to Bali—you always wanted to go there. We could go and get to know each other again. Or we could get a dog. You always wanted a dog…”
When Jason didn’t respond, Simon drew a breath, “If it’s sex…we could have more sex. I could do better—”
“Great. That’s great, Simon. You make it sound like I accused you of not helping enough with the washing up—”
“No! I don’t want fucking me to be one more chore you have to grit your teeth and get through, just so you can check it off your ‘honey do’ list and get on with your day!”
Jason slammed the suitcase closed and pulled it off the bed.
“You know, you’re not the only one who’s unhappy,” Simon snapped. “I’m unhappy, too.”
“I know you are. The difference between us is that I am choosing not to be unhappy anymore.”
“So that’s it? You’re just going to leave me?”
“Simon, I could never just leave you—we’ve been together too long. After all this time, you’re the first thing I think about in the morning, and the last thing I think about at night. Even now. You are in my blood. Try to understand: I’m not leaving you, I’m leaving this relationship.”
“I see,” Simon said stiffly. “In that case, I’ll see you around.” And he walked out of the room.
Trying not to hear the hurt in Simon’s voice or see his shoulders hunched in defeat, Jason picked up his suitcase which now seemed unreasonably heavy. Yes, he’d see him around. He’d have to. Theirs had been a successful relationship; they had a lifetime of memories and feelings and possessions to sort and discuss and divide.