You are addicted to a boy. The buzzer goes late at night and you answer because you know it will be him. You open the door and there he is, smiling and shifty.
He hugs you hard and says, ‘I’m not here. You haven’t seen me.’
‘You got booze?’ he asks.
You nod. ‘Vodka,’ you say, and get two glasses from under the sink. ‘You got weed?’ you ask.
He nods. ‘Hash. Shall I skin up?’
You nod and pour two large vodkas. ‘Tonic or lemonade?’
He thinks for a moment. ‘Either, I don’t mind.’
You add tonic to both glasses and carry them to the sofa. You hand him one and sit down cross-legged, sipping yours. You watch as he carefully burns a sweet smelling lump of dark brown hash and crumbles it into an elaborate origami of Rizla. You watch his jaw stiffen in concentration, the scar on his upper lip. You watch his eyes study what his hands are doing. When he is finished, he looks up and meets your eyes, then smiles and lights up the spliff.
‘So, what have you been doing?’
He groans and rubs his face with his hands. ‘Oh, my life is just a mess!’ He looks at you and you both crack up laughing. This is a familiar routine.
‘Seriously, what’s been going on?’
‘Give me another vodka and I’ll tell you.’
You roll your eyes. You down the last of your drink and pour two more, hand his to him and sit back down. ‘Well?’
He smirks, exhales a haze of thick, curling smoke, takes two gulps of vodka and tonic. ‘No, nothing really. I’ve just been getting on with loads of work.’
‘Yeah, right!’ You snort and raise an eyebrow.
He laughs, ‘I have, I really have! I’m building a website for a friend.’
‘Hmm... Why are you being so cagey then?’
He shakes his head, takes another toke and waves his hand through the fog in a dismissive gesture. ‘I’m just being dramatic.’ He passes you the spliff.
When vodka drowns out reason and hash muffles thoughts, he says he is going to your bed. You both climb under your duvet fully clothed and put your arms around one another. You know you haven’t lost him to sleep by the gentle rhythm of thumb on back. You decide to take a chance: a stolen kiss. You press into him gently and tilt your head to his. For a few moments he presses back and you taste his saliva. Then his head pulls away and he embraces you, nuzzling your crown under his chin. There you lie, a tangle of limbs and thoughts and desire, until sleep comes to carry you away.
You dream of rain, of dancing through it in your underwear. A violent, gushing rain that drenches you to your core, washes away all that is rotten and gnawing and dead. You’re in a field, and he’s there, asleep on a bed made from lilos and cushions.
You try to wake him up. ‘It’s raining,’ you tell him, ‘it’s raining, get up.’
He smiles and pulls the blanket aside for you. You get in next to him and lay down. You put your arms around him and suddenly you don’t care if it rains so hard that you drown.
When you wake in the morning, he is gone.
When he is not with you, you feel his absence, solid and burning. Every thought is of him - memories carried like souvenirs, hopes like precious beams of light that turn to shade if you dare get too close.
In the street, every shaved head is his, every corner turned a potential chance encounter.
The next time he calls you it is earlier than usual: a surprise. His voice echoes down the receiver. You wonder how far away he really is.
‘Are you busy?’
‘No.’ For him you are never busy. Friends go unmet, appointments cancelled, opportunities missed. When you are with him, time is both endless and fleeting.
‘Can I come over?’
An hour later, the doorbell goes: three short sharp buzzes. A secret code. His signature. You answer the door. Salt lines his reddened face like snail tracks. You hug him tentatively, uncertain of what he needs. He clings to you. You take his hand and lead him down the narrow hallway to the lounge where you sit on the sofa. He takes the chair next to it, a mile away. You sit and wait, watching him. His face, blotchy red. His eyes, a watery stare. You bite around your right thumb, impatient that a snagged piece of skin will not give way and tear.
Eventually, you have to nudge. ‘What’s happened?’ You’re throwing him a lifeline, a thin, tenuous link to the world you inhabit. You want torrents and explosions, shattered ice. You can feel the well within him bubbling over. You want to plummet to its depth, share his pain, feel it for him…
‘I have to go.’ Somewhere inside him, a door slams. It’s sudden and leaves you spinning, uncertain of where you went wrong.
You remain composed. Nod. ‘Ok.’
‘I have to go to a friends house, score some hash.’
‘I’ll call you tomorrow.’
He looks inside your eyes. ‘I promise.’ He hugs you again and kisses your cheek. Then he is gone.
You wonder sometimes if you made him up. Perhaps he is some concoction of your imagination, designed to complicate, or simplify, or determine your existence. A reason to breathe.
You go to bed.
He does not call you the next day.
Sometimes, he comes to your flat, stays there for days, sees only you. Sometimes, you won’t see him for a week, his phone off, his emails unanswered. You know he has nowhere to live. You want to ask where it is that he goes when he’s not with you. Who is he? Is there a different him that you are missing out on? More than one? You are afraid of answers.
© 2005 - 2008 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas.
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