Wednesday Briefs - Return to Aurora: Micah’s Story

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs―a blog hop where authors post 500-1000 words of free flash fiction every week. 

This week's story is part of my next book, as yet untitled. In today's post I revisit the setting from What Binds Us. In the two years since What Binds Us was published, many readers have asked what happened to Matthew and Thomas-Edward after the book ended. This is not meant to be a sequel but it does provide a glimpse into their lives after their original story ended.  

Return to Aurora: Micah's Story

I was late, the last to arrive, I knew, but I had to make sure the animals were fed and walked and settled before closing up the shelter for the night. It was my birthday weekend, and the start of the summer season.

I saw my dads in the distance strolling down the beach hand-in-hand, passing a bottle of champagne between them. They always seemed complete within themselves, yet they had opened their circle of love to encompass us, their three adopted children.

I’d been the last to be adopted. My dads, reading of my discovery, abandoned, tied to a subway bench, unattended save for a battered, soiled teddy bear, and clutching a plastic baggy of animal crackers, a box of raisins and a sippy cup half full of apple juice, had  chartered a jet, and flow from London to New York, determined to rescue me. They arrived early the next morning, jet-lagged and anxious, with my future brother and sister and my Uncle Colin, who’s a lawyer, in tow.

Standing at the water’s edge, I glanced up at the house which lay on the beach like an immense white beast sunning itself. Aurora. The house in East Claw that had been in my dad’s family so long it seemed positively ancestral.

It was summer so we were all ensconced at Aurora It was also our first summer without Mrs. Whyte, our grandmother, and, I suspected, we would later be surprised to realize we missed her, her icy reserve, her wintry elegance, her forbidding presence which was like the chill on the late September air that signaled the season’s end.

Piano music tumbled out of the open French doors of the music room, its echo skipping down the beach on the breeze, tickling my ear. I wondered who was playing. Curious, I started towards the house.

It was in the music room, then, that I first saw Gatsby. It was a room of pearl grays and faded gold damask, whitened wood and pale carpets, all whitewashed in a bleach of sunlight. He was seated at the rosewood Steinway concert grand piano that dominated the room.  Gatsby himself had a pewter finish: silvery hair swept back, eyes like pieces of ice, pale cheekbones that gleamed.  He was cool and pale, champagne in an ice bucket.  Playing selections from A Chorus Line for a crowd of stalwart admirers, he was radiant in that colorless room. He was gorgeous and charismatic, a charmer of snakes and men.

He caught me staring at him and winked at me with exaggeration.  There was something antique about him; he looked like a 1930’s film star perfectly preserved on silver nitrate.

I walked across the room to the bar. I could feel his eyes on me as I walked. Drink in hand, I turned to watch him. He rose, closed the piano’s lid, and thanked his audience. Keeping his gaze on me, he moved towards me like an argentine gift of inestimable value.

As he approached, I was discomfited to find myself trapped between a Federal sideboard and a brazen South African—a great dark beauty named Kilrain. 

“Pardon me,” Kilrain said in a clipped British accent, “I’m not usually this bold, but I’ve had four Kir Royales!”I was unable to decide whether he was pretentious, drunk or merely strange. 

“I’m thinking of moving to England,” he said, apropos of nothing.

“Oh? Really?” I said feigning interest. I had no idea why he thought his curious statement bold.

“Yes!” he cried enthusiastically.  “Really, it’s the perfect place.  It has everything in common with America except, of course, titles and language.”

When I didn’t answer, he turned his attention to the food laid out on the sideboard. Looking over the assortment of cheeses, wild grapes and petit fours, Kilrain regarded the contents of a silver bowl with contempt. “Are those…animal crackers?”

“They are,” I confirmed. I did not tell him they were for me.

“How odd!”

I caught Gatsby’s eye again and he drifted closer, bringing with him sepia tones and a martini. He said something to Kilrain who seemed flattered by his attention. As he continued talking to Kilrain he casually wedged himself between us slightly touching my arm as if to say wait. Their conversation over, Gatsby turned to face me. “You looked like you needed saving,” he whispered. A smile, fragile as tissue paper, framed his words. 

“I did. Thank you.”

Up close with the sunlight behind him, he seemed carved out of silver and sorrow. 

“I’m Gatsby Calloway.” He made me a present of his hand. “You’re one of Matthew and Thomas’ sons aren’t you?”

I am half black, half white, with eyes the exact opaque silver of mercury and soft reddish brown hair that is almost too straight for the dreadlocks it was twisted into and which fall caressingly over my ears and forehead. If Matthew, who is white, and Thomas-Edward, who is black, could have had a son together, he would have looked like me. “I am,” I said, “Micah—”

“Ah! I remember you. I used to visit often when you lived in England.”

I wondered if he was remembering the troubled, surly me, the only one of the three to give our dads cause to worry, the only one of the three to turn out gay.

“You look like them,” he said.

I stared at him as he reflected on the absurdity of his statement. He laughed. “Gosh, that was stupid on my part.”

Before I could respond, Gatsby declared with no small amount of excitement, “Animal crackers!” Then reached into the bowl and scooped out a handful. Noticing the small silver tongs beside the bowl, he blushed. “You won’t tell will you?” he asked me.

“No,” I said. “No one eats them but me, anyway.” I smiled, raked the dreadlocks off my forehead.

I was gay, had slept with men but I had never had, or wanted, a boyfriend. I’d watched my friends falling in love, moving in together, falling out of love, moving out, reconciling; through it all, I’d stood on the sidelines as at some fantastic banquet, hungry, but more afraid of obesity than starvation.

Looking at Gatsby now, I wanted him to be my boyfriend. I wanted to have with him what my dads had with each other.
Copyright ©2014 Larry Benjamin

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  1. Your writing has the effect of making the reader trip along after each sentence as though chasing a peacock down a lavendar path.

    Polly Johnson

    1. Oh Polly that was lovely. Thank you. I think ;-)


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