"Look, I said I was sorry." I don't face him, arms crossed protectively over my chest.
He sighs loudly behind me. "You don't understand. There's more to it than you think."
"So let me understand," I say coldly, glaring at the door and imagining his face on it. "You can fuck around with whoever you'd like, and I'm supposed to smile and encourage you?"
He winces at my words; I can feel it even though I'm not looking at it. It's not like me to swear.
Maybe now he'll believe that I'm quite serious, this isn't a game to get him to beg.
"Listen, whatever it is that's really bothering you, I'm sorry." His hand brushes my shoulder tentatively, but I flinch violently away.
Turning to face him, I lean against the door, but realize it makes me look weak and straighten. "You don't even know what you're sorry for, and I'm supposed to believe you're truly sorry?"
He sighs, trying to touch me again. "I'm sorry for flirting, okay? It's not like we've been serious for a long time, it's different to be unavailable."
I narrow my eyes. "So this isn't important for you to resist their advances?"
"Resist advances?" he laughs. "You sound like you've been reading romance novels again."
I put my back to him. Really. I'm pissed and he laughs. At me. Doesn't he know me at all? "Don't you know me at all?"
"Yes, that's why I'm here telling you I'm sorry for leading him on like that. I dunno, I was there, and he was there, and it was like…" he trails off.
"Damnit, I don't need a play-by-play. It's bad enough that I had to hear about it from your mother, I don't want you to describe every little thing you said to him, every time you touched his hand, every time he made your heart beat faster." I fold my arms over my chest again, feeling sick inside.
"He didn't make my heart beat faster, Billy, don't you get it? It was flirting. Sure, I was wrong, I shouldn't have, but it didn't do anything. He doesn't make me feel fuzzy in the morning when I wake up, hell; he isn't there when I wake up. You are." Scowling now, he wipes at his cheek and smears his eyeliner across it.
"Do you want him to be?" The words escape my mouth before I realize that I thought them.
"What?" he stares at me in disbelief.
I shrugged, strengthening the question. "Did you want him next to you?"
"No!" He protests strongly. My heart warms at it briefly before I turn it back to stone.
"Then why bother?"
"Because I'm sick and tired of always asking you to go places with me and you're always telling me no!" He's yelling now, scaring me, I'm backed up to the door even though he's still five feet away.
"Probably because you're always going places you know I hate," I mutter under my breath, crossing my arms again.
"And when I ask, you don't tell me that," he's closer again, this time leaning into my face. I turn it away, looking at the door. Freedom lay through there.
He continues. "You just tell me you'd rather stay in. You don't say it's because you'd rather go shopping at that book place with the giant dolls, or go find a new music store with great deals because it's stuck in between a porno shop and a craft store. You just say, nah, Sef, I think I'll stay in, you know, read a book."
Sarcasm drips from my voice. "It's probably because you can't even remember what my favourite store is called. And I know the name of all of your favourite bands. And what you used to call your…thingie."
"Fine, again, you've proven you're a better boyfriend than I am. Is that what you want?" He glares into my face.
"No." I step closer, even though I'm telling myself to back away again, to escape now so that I don't start to forgive him. "I want you to tell me how you really feel."
"Okay. You're being an asshole about this whole thing. I've apologized, what more do you want?"
I poke his chest, surprised, he moves back. "I want you to want me, to tell me you want me, to not pretend around your friends that you don't."
"When have I done that?" Offended, he steps back more.
Exasperated, I throw my hands in the air. "When haven't you? We're sitting around at a party, and you're on the other end of the room. I'm sitting in the car, waiting to go, and you get a ride with someone else. Don't tell me it's because of my driving," I cut him off as he opens his mouth, "when we're watching a movie, you stand up whenever you hear someone walk by, just in case they look in and see us sitting there holding hands. You'll watch me when I change, and then get mad when someone asks what we were doing up there. In my room. Fuck, think about it next time. It's not suspicious at all when you glare at me either."
"So you want me to act like we're together?" He sounds confused, frown marring his face.
"No, because we're not. Not anymore." Sighing heavily, I put my hand on the doorknob.
"What?" He sounds genuinely shocked.
I can't look back. I'll cave, I know it. "That's it. This…this…thing we had is over. Done."
He makes a sound halfway between a whimper and a whine. "I'm sorry about it, okay? Everything. I'll be a better boyfriend, I promise."
I give him a concealed glance from under my eyelids, he does look sorry. No, can't think that way. No, Billy, don't do that. No forgiving, he's in trouble. We're not going to take it.
Slowly shake my head, bring my hands up to my cheeks and hold them there. It makes me feel better.
"Come on, Billy, don't do that."
For a minute I think he reads my thoughts.
"Don't be like that…I don't want anyone but you. Honestly, he was nothing. You're my everything." He sounds like he's quoting Hanson lyrics.
"Maybe you should look to him for forgiveness."
Hand on the doorknob.
Ask him, because I can't do this again. I can't keep losing you and expect you to come back.
Open the door, close it behind me.
Flip the lock firmly. It's awfully dark out here.
His laughter. "You're in the closet."
Turn the light on; see that he's right. For once. Or again.
Damn escape plans foiled by the fact I've locked myself in the hall closet.
Hearing him now, hands on the door, trying the doorknob.
I stare at the shelves, filled with boxes and clothes. I press back into them, distance myself from the door.
And sit on a cardboard box, getting stuck into it when it collapses under my weight.
I sigh, leaning my elbows on my knees.
"Come on, don't sit in there. You're being stupid."
Quietly to myself, I mutter swear words at him. I kick at the door, hoping he could feel it.
"Listen, I'm sorry. Please."
I can nearly see him; one hand on the doorknob, another on the door, pressing against it like it was me.
He'll get frustrated soon, get angry.
Pounds on the door, one fist. I bet the other is still flat against the wood, trying to reach me through it.
"Don't ignore me." He's yelling.
I try to get myself out of the box, it's stuck until I push it off and stand on the other side. Imagine our positions are similar, his persuading, mine resisting.
"You haven't even told me that you loved me. We've been together two months, it's been beautiful, and I fucking loved you." I kick the door again for good measure.
"It's hard to take you seriously," he says, laughter evident in his tone. Damn him, this isn't funny. "Fuck, you're pouting in a closet."
"Gah!" I yell, kick again, and curse at my foot when the thin Converse fails to protect it from impact. Angry, I sit down on the box; don't even care when I get stuck again. I hope some of his stuff is in it, and it's breakable. I jump up and down on it, and the satisfying collapse rewards me.
"Fine, be mad. I'm not anymore. I've apologized, I've offered to start again, and now all I have to do is wait."
Noises of clothes and him settling. "I'm sitting right down on the other side of the door. I'm leaning against it…I thought I'd give you a good description, so that you know what's going on. Not like you can see and all, in the closet…"
I growl, folding my arms and glaring at where I imagine his head would be. I'm not going to let him win this time. No matter how much I love the sound of him giggling or how much I want the makeup sex.
"Betcha you wish now that we'd moved into your apartment, right? Not mine. Then you'd know where the front door is, and not still think it's the closet.
"It is kinda cute when you answer the closet for pizza, though. I must say that. I love the expression on your face. By now you must think all the things I enjoy from you are things that you hate about yourself. Not true. At least, I don't think so.
"Let's see. There's the way you have to have your eye shadow so symmetrical, but you don't ever do them in a big mirror. It's always left first, then right, and hope they look the same. They always do. And how your tattoos are never a spontaneous thing. You plan them out, have seven different meanings to a little scribble on your ankle, and still remember when and where you got each one."
This would have been quite touching had he not cheated on me in the first place.
"And your lip ring. I love that one too. It's funny how you always said it would be cold to kiss it, but truth is, you really had no idea. It's not cold; it's in your mouth…of course it's gonna be warm. Sometimes I wondered about you. Then I'd remember that's it's another one of those things that I love about you.
"What else…oh, how about the first time we ever danced together. It was during that really horrible band at the Warped Tour. Remember? They were so horrible… but anyway, we were out in front, and you were looking really awkward. I thought then it was because the band sucked—cause face it, they did, doesn't matter that you were friends with the drummer's cousin or something—but then you just looked at me…"
Really, really touching. But why the hell does he have to piss me off to get romantic?
"With those perfect blue eyes, and I knew I had to say something. Of course, 'your mascara's running' wasn't what I was planning. You looked kind of, oh, okay, and then you had to go and fix it…"
He sighs here, and taps gently against the door, trying to make sure I'm still listening…right, there's so much to do in the closet... "And I followed you to the bathroom, cause it wasn't what I meant to say, and I wanted to make sure you weren't angry. And I told you it looked fine, pretty like that, and you nearly stabbed yourself in the eye with the eyeliner. Then I asked you to make me pretty…and oh, this is the first time you did my makeup, too. I wanted to go and show the world how I was pretty now, when you grabbed my arm and told me you loved this song. 'Miss You Love'. It was a horrible cover version, but your eyes were shining and so was your hair and I couldn't say no.
"Stop glaring, I can feel it." He bangs his head back against the door. "Anyway, it wasn't a really big surprise, us ending up together. After all, we're together so often anyways, we're best friends…dude, really, you let me in to pee when you're in the shower. I'd be surprised if we weren't together. It's just that kind of relationship. I won't argue the opposite; I know we're together. Two months. One of my longest relationships, you realize. That's gotta mean something.
"Hold on, I gotta go get something." I hear him stand and run off, he's probably doing the weird skip jog that he does when he's going somewhere in a hurry and he thinks that no one's watching.
It's funny, I've done it in the morning when he goes to answer the phone or get apple juice for the both of us, when he thinks I'm still asleep and he's able to be himself.
I don't care when he acts like an idiot, I know—and he knows—that it's a part of who he is. Just like I'm afraid of being the one to say I love you, and afraid of never hearing it first.
It's the way things were.
"Don't try to be someone you're not." His hand stroked my cheek, the one not being pressed into my pillow. "You're Billy Edwards. Don't sell yourself short."
"I'm not," I sniffled, cursing the tears that made my nose run. "Damn nose."
"See?" He wiped away a tear as it trailed down my nose. "If you hadn't dressed like that, you wouldn't have this problem."
"So it's my fault. I knew it." I sniffled again, this time more of a snort as my half-plugged nose ends up halfway down my throat.
"That's sick…I'm going to have to stop consoling you if you're going to be all gross." He smiled to show he was joking, running the backs of his fingers down my cheek. "I'm happy with you now, Bills. Don't be something you're not for someone you don't have."
I sigh with the memory. I see it now as a plea for attention, but then it was me trying to fit in. And now I'm pushing away the one who helps me to be me. Be what I could never have been then, and what I am now.
"Back!" He announces, a hollow clunk accompanying his position against the door. "Um, I don't think it'll sound too good, but here goes."
He plays a few chords. His guitar. Explains the noises. And the time to find it, I had hid it in the shower when I'd gotten home, angry with him.
The music stops. "Oh, yeah, I've caught on to the guitar in the shower means Billy's mad routine. It's the first thing I check when I get home. Unless you're in bed waiting for me. Then you're usually not mad."
He starts up again, humming along to a familiar tune. "Don't know all the words, but, well, it's the thought, right?"Plays more, sings. "But I'm not too sure, how I'm dadah-da feel, or what I'm supposed to say…but I'm not, not sure, not too sure how it feels, to handle every day, and I miss you love…" He trails off, sets the guitar aside. "I must sound horrible, since I've been…um, yeah. That's right."He only sounds horrible after he cries.
This is a new experience.
Today never happened before, not like this.
He clears his throat, continues on. "Hey, and remember the time we cut Casey's hair? He was really pissed…still doesn't sleep with his door unlocked. I checked.
"And when you ran out of your silvery nail polish. It was one am, and we drove for like two hours trying to find a place that was open to get some. You and your nails…your vanity. Still, you put up with me when I dye my hair. I tie up the bathroom, two hours, when you're going somewhere in fifteen minutes and haven't even started. And all you do is just smile, shake your head, and say, 'yeah, warn me next time.' And I never do, and you never care.
"What about when we bought you those pants. You're wearing them now. You told me you wouldn't wear them, never, ever, you thought they made you look gay. Course, this was before we started being together, and I just looked at you…and so did the sales guy, which was funny, cause you blushed to just the shade of your eye shadow, and he asked if you were still in denial, because it was obvious to him…"
Sign me up for a big dose of why the hell were we fighting anyway, he obviously loves me, with a side of don't forgive him yet he cheated on you.
"And when you got your black rubbery bracelets stuck on the door latch, and we were stuck for like an hour trying to get you unstuck. No, it was only like fifteen minutes, wasn't it?
"It was when we got our lip rings stuck, only like a week in, and were trapped for an hour. And then I was pissed, even though it wasn't your fault, because my ring was the one with the bead missing.
"What about when we put hair gel in condoms and threw them off the seventh floor balcony. I remember that, that was awesome. And then when Casey came up and told us about this used condom that fell on his head...
"Remember the time I told you I loved you?
"I was sitting on the other side of the closet door—you were inside, I don't remember why—and I was telling you all about the stuff we've done, and then I realized it for myself. I think you had known all along. You've got a special way with that.
"I think I never told you before because I always had this thought that you should be first. Then, I realized, it didn't matter who said it first, we both mean it, so it's like we're saying it at the same time, even though only one of us was talking.
"Remember that Billy? Remember? It's one of my favourite memories. Feels like it happened only a minute ago. It'll always seem that way, every time I remind you of how I feel.
"What about you? When was the first time for you?"
I unlock the door, and I feel him move away. I open the door a crack, blinking in the natural light. I stand there, looking at him, looking at me.
He's lost all the makeup on his face; most of it on the white t-shirt he wears…tears… you, crying? He never cries unless he feels like his heart is breaking. I've never seen him cry. I've never heard I love you either.
I wipe damp palms on the leather pants. I'm nervous. Then, I see him bite his lip, and I know he is too.
The words stay unspoken, but we both know them.
Do we know the answer?
What happens next?