My addiction was a yellow glowing window peering out in the middle of the night. He'd walk past it habitually at eight o' clock each night to change into just a loose white shirt and the same boxers, cleaned almost everyday and worn everyday. The shirt was loose and baggy on his skinny form, and the sleeves would fall to reveal the jutting bones from beneath. I watched those bones manifest for the three years since I discovered the perfect perch outside his window on the first floor in modern suburbia.
If he went upstairs to his bedroom, often I'd climb up the stairs in my father's restaurant across the street. The building was made so there was a window, the one that belonged to my bedroom upstairs, which allowed for me to step outside and onto a flat structure above the door with a painted black set of Victorian spiked trim around the edge. It was barely enough to sit Indian style upon and it occupied the space directly over the door.
I only risked sitting up there on truly dark nights, and I loved playing spy. I'd wrap myself in my usual black clothes, finding the black pair of jeans that didn't have any bright stripes on them like the ones for school, and I'd slip them on. They'd become a little snug in three years, but I only ever wore them late at night anyways. Thankfully, I hadn't grown too much in that time. I'd paint black oily lines on my face like war paint, having a camera and binoculars at my side.
The large oak tree in my front lawn prevented my nosy neighbors from ever getting a clear view of me, and the street only ever really gets attention when someone was coming to my father's tiny restaurant or the church that was far enough down the street that there was another, closer road reaching it. Nobody went to either the church or the restaurant that late at night since both were closed, and few people were out as late as when I'd finally work up the courage to watch him.
I had binoculars that let me watch every graceful or clumsy act his body made, and I often imagined him beneath me moving in much the same manners. Sometimes, I only imagined talking to him. I imagined lengthy conversations about why he kept getting so skinny. I'd make up stories about his paintings. Occasionally, I'd just imagine me introducing myself. It was just a simple "Hello, my name is Grace Maestros, the boy across the street," but I knew I'd never actually do it. I was scared to death of him ever learning my name. I was scared that if we ever spoke I would confess that I'd found a way up onto his roof so that I could watch him take a bath that was tinged with color from the paints he used, scrubbing himself as I felt my blood beginning to rush and tingle. I was too scared that my addiction would become public, and I didn't want any kind of help for it. It was what kept me driven in life.
The worst part of it all was that I didn't even know his name. I watched him so much that I kept a hidden journal and calendar of where he'd be and when. If he was ever gone for a day, like on holidays, I'd feel my heart being shredded at. It was almost as if he left just to taunt me. "Not tonight," I kept imagining him saying to his friend or his grandmother or even a complete stranger. "He doesn't get me tonight."
I climbed out my window and sat on the small rooftop each night he was away, and I would cry. The oil paint would smudge against my face, and I wouldn't wipe it away. I'd be too concerned with letting the Victorian spikes grip at the skin of my fingers. I would wonder if I could stab myself through the hand hard enough that it would pierce straight through, and I would think about screaming. If I ever screamed, just stood up and screamed with a megaphone into his window that I loved him, every minute I saw him, and that I was going to stab myself if he didn't say the same back, if he'd do anything or even care. I would imagine him as a knight in shining armor, but he often times didn't even come out at all in my dreams. He'd just sit at the edge and put on headphones, dancing about in his room surrounded by anime posters and pictures of rock bands.
I bought all the CDs I could see represented by picture upon his walls, and I'd memorized all of them. Each time I witnessed him dancing around, his body moving as if no one else could ever see him, I'd play music in my bedroom, quietly, and imagine myself dancing with him. I'd imagine we were listening to the same song.
He was my addiction because I fell in love with wanting him and knowing that he didn't know I existed. I was frightened that he would ever find out who I am, but he did. I thought I was going to die the day he walked in the door of the restaurant with another boy he'd had spend the night. I straightened my shirt a little, and my father asked me to request their order since he was busy in the back cooking steaks. I walked over to their booth that they'd picked near the back, and I forced a smile. "Hi. Welcome to the Misty Beach Café. Can I get you anything?"
He looked up at me and swiped back some of his pale blonde hair, smiling that same pathetic line of a smile he got whenever he had to pretend joy outside of his painting or dancing. "It's funny," from across the table came the comment from the boy with him with deep freckles. "He lives across the street from here but he's never once come in for some of your guy's pie. Get us both a slice of apple pie, with ice cream on top."
I knew that the boy across the street didn't eat pie or anything like that. He hardly ate at all. I nodded, and I looked over to my addiction, casting him another smile. "Is that all for you two?"
"A glass of water, please," he whispered, and I felt shivers run down my spine. His voice was actually similar to how I'd imagined it to be. It was quite and none-too-deep. It was beautifully weak, and I wanted it to be all my own just like the visions of him during his happiness. I smiled at him and forced myself to walk away. I moved into the back, slicing up a pie that had already been made ahead of time, and I heated up the ice cream a bit to melt it a little after I put a scoop on each pie.
When I dropped them off at the table, I felt my stomach fall through my knees. The imposing boy was kissing my addiction's cheek before making some comment that referred to my addiction as a "skeleton in the closet". The boy laughed, but he didn't. I set the pie slices down, and felt tears bite at my eyes. I felt sad because my addiction didn't look happy at all. I went to get him a glass of water, and that was when the idea hit me.
I grabbed two napkins, setting the glass of water on one and writing on the other. "If you need to talk about whatever makes you unhappy all the time, you can call me. Who am I going to tell?" I added my number and my name. When I handed him his water, I made sure the napkin made it into his hands. He took it, and he looked at me strangely, but I noticed his hand move to slide it into his pocket.
I had the phone within a foot of me as I got dressed to watch him again. I couldn't help it. He was so beautiful to me, even if he was growing skinnier by the minute. It was after I'd stepped out the window that he actually called me. He only said one word. "Stop." He didn't even tell me his name.
I hung up the phone, and I had to think. I didn't know what he wanted me to stop, but even for him I couldn't stop whatever it was. I hadn't really done anything to him. I wanted to. If I was supposed to stop wanting him, I couldn't. If I was supposed to stop loving him, I couldn't. I couldn't do anything he asked of me. I stayed up there and watched him sitting on his floor until 2 a.m. He was just leaning against his bed, throwing a plush basketball at a miniature version of a hoop with our high school's team "The Hornets" emblem painted upon it over whatever used to be there. Each time he missed the hoop up until the clock revealed it to be 1:57 a.m. exactly and he finally made a basket. It contented him enough that he got up and went to bed, clicking off his light so I couldn't see anything.
I sat down my binoculars and climbed inside. I pulled off my clothes and hid them in the hamper without a noise made before slipping on a pair of boxers. When I walked passed the window, I glanced up to look in his. He hadn't really gone to sleep after all. He was pressed against the window with a large whiteboard in hand. I had to grab my binoculars to read the one word etched upon it in large blue letters. "Help!"
I tried to look into the room with the binoculars to see whatever it was, but I didn't see anything since the lights were still off. The whiteboard fell to the floor and he ran away from the window. I didn't see where he went to.
I didn't know what drove me, but my heart was beating in my ears. I grabbed up the pair of pants I'd thrown in the hamper from work today and pulled them on as I raced down the stairs. When I reached the restaurant, that was closed, I swung open the door to see him rushing out his door as well and running. "He's coming!" The window beside his house's door was busted.
My hands reached out and grabbed him, and I pulled him into the restaurant. I looked the door, and he stared at me. "I need to call 911." I dragged him to the back of the restaurant to the phone used for special orders and reservations. I picked it up and tossed it to him, and he dialed the number. I couldn't help but listen in. I kept my ears open as I crept to the window to peer out at his house. I still didn't see anyone.
"Help! A man just broke into my house. I heard screaming and I – Calm down? Do I seem like I can calm down? I live at 15485 Brianna Avenue. I'm calling from the Misty Beach Café. Yes? I only caught a glance of him. I took off running." I could hear him start crying then. I lifted myself from the door and wrapped my arms around his waist. I clung to him. I'd always wanted to. I felt ashamed to take such pleasure in the contact that I had chosen to make against better judgment at such a time.
I was awed by him. He was beautiful. I didn't know his name, but he had known that I watched him. I wasn't really too secret about it, but he knew. He didn't seem to care. He told me to stop, but then if I had stopped, would he of coming running to me? It was my dream coming true. I couldn't help but hang onto him. I couldn't help but suck in a deep hearty breath as my nose and cheek nuzzled into his hair. He smelled of baby powder lotions and the faint trace of vanilla. He finished the call and hung up, and I couldn't help myself. My mouth descended on the vein in his neck. I nibbled at his neck, and I squeezed him tighter.
I felt his muscles constrict, trying to fight against me. I remember sucking my way up his neck until I reached his ear. "There's a toll for using that phone," I told him. He told me that was terrible of me. I told him I wouldn't make him pay with money if he didn't have any on him. He groaned as if I'd hit him, and I bit down on his ear. "Pay me. There has to be thrill in this for you."
"Not at a time like this," he whined. He looked so sad when I pulled back just enough to turn him around. He tried to fight against me, just barely, but his bones hugged his skin so tightly that it didn't take much for me to throw his arms above his head. With one hand I pinned him against the wall with his arms above his head. Our hips met one another and I kissed him. "Please," he whispered. "No."
"Yes," I replied before kissing him again. It wasn't like I imagined, but it was better. I was hungry for him. I didn't care if he wanted me or not. "Come on. There has to be thrill in this. I know it. You didn't do anything about me watching you. You knew. You've probably known for a long time. I watch you anyways. I'm your savior. Maybe you just like to be watched. Is that why you've gotten so skinny? You want eyes on you. Irony, isn't it? The smaller you become the more you expect eyes to fall upon you in a crowd. Well, I saw you. Don't I get anything for noticing?"
He groaned under my onslaught of kisses, and my body began to tingle when I felt his muscles relax beneath me. He started the shake. I kissed him hard upon the mouth, and he returned the kiss. I had won him.
The sirens of the cops became dead to my ears when I forced him, despite the tears in his eyes, to follow me into my bedroom. He held little protest, and it is still to this day my assumption that he only wanted to leave me so that he might go and speak with the police. He was mine. His family always got him. I wanted him now. I was bound and determined to have him at any cost.
That's why I tied him down. He didn't want me to, but I did it anyways. He couldn't always get what he wanted. His body screamed for attention, and I gave that to him. His mind, however, I never once gazed at. I tied a strap of cloth around his head and into his mouth. It was loose enough so that if I wrenched myself downwards onto his mouth, I could kiss him.
Despite my desire for him, he came first. I watched him with amazement before following suite, and I collapsed next to him. My arms reached around him, and I didn't untie him. I fell asleep with one word on my lips. "Mine." He was mine for the rest of the night. He cried when I wouldn't let him go.
The police came to the door later, and I answered it. They asked for him. They were the ones that told me his name was London Morrows. They asked when I told them that I hadn't seen him, and that the door had been left unlocked. Our door usually isn't, but I said it was a friendly neighborhood, and hardly anyone comes this way. They asked to speak with my father, but I told them that he wore earplugs and waking him up wouldn't work this early in the morning. They left and said they'd be back later.
I crept upstairs to find London still laying there crying. It was beautiful. "I love you, London," I said, feeling pride at letting the name slip past my lips so easily. He shuddered as he cried. "I'm going to keep you until later. You didn't stay here. You left the house after the phone call. We've never spoken before."
He nodded, and I didn't want to, but I let him go. He practically fell off the bed. He grabbed the clothes that weren't about his ankles and dressed. I went to reach out to him, but he pulled away as if I were going to hurt him. I would never hurt him. I love him. I told him so. He recoiled as if in fear and backed towards the door. "Stay away from me, Grace."
"I don't want to," I replied. Honesty spilled forth from me, just like I had thought it would. "I can't." I was addicted. He was like a drug. I couldn't help but want to grab him. I couldn't help but want to kiss him, and tie him up, and feel that adrenaline rush of knowing he was there, beneath me. I wanted him to be all mine. It wasn't fair that he didn't love me.
"You're frightening," he lamented to me. I pouted. The room became a rush of color as I ran towards him. He didn't move. He pressed against the wall when I grabbed him. "Please don't touch me. Don't hurt me anymore."
"You liked it."
"Stop," he said. It sounded the same way it had on the telephone. I blinked, dazed by the familiarity of the one word. I shook my head from side to side, and I kissed his tears. "Why won't you just leave me alone?"
"You want attention though."
"Not like this."
"You don't want to be loved?"
"Not like this," he repeated. His voice was barely a whisper.
I let him leave.
His family moved away after the break in. If London Morrows ever said anything about our encounter, I held no consequences. I still was addicted to him.
I tried to make love to someone else. It didn't work. I didn't have that adrenaline rush. I tried watching someone else. It helped, but I didn't want them. They weren't special. They had the same boring schedule everyday. They didn't move like London moved. They didn't pose any questions to me. I didn't have to wonder with them, and they often came into the Misty Beach Café, so I didn't even have to wonder what their names were. I didn't want them.
It took me years before I found London Morrows again. He'd moved a few states away, and he constantly traveled when I found him. I had been strolling through an art show during a vacation. He was sitting before a painting. I recognized him. I looked up at the painting. It was dark, but I knew the style. It had improved miraculously, but it had also gotten darker. The bones in his face didn't show anymore, or his shoulders, or his arms. "London Morrows did this one, huh?" I said, casually.
He turned his head in my direction. A calm smile found its way to his face. He didn't recognize me. "Yes. I believe so. What do you think it's about?"
I turned to look at the painting. It was of a dark beach with black mist that reminded me of my father's café. "It wouldn't happen to be about a restaurant across from the house on Brianna Avenue, would it? It seems London went dark after then after all. I can't blame him."
"How did- "
I just smiled at him. His eyes narrowed. He was trying to remember.
He reached out his hand to touch me, to feel the skin of my face, but it fell free. A voice came from behind him. "London, honey, are you making a sale over there?"
"How much?" I asked, looking at the painting. It looked more expensive than I could ever hope to afford then, but London shook his head and said 'half price' and I gave him only a hundred dollars for it.
The man next to him gave him a curt glare and then smiled at me. "Well, well, friend of London's are you?" He possessively curled his arms with London's. London didn't seem to mind, but I felt a fire in my heart.
"Acquaintance, I guess," I retorted bitterly. London looked like he couldn't believe he didn't remember who I was. I let myself smile at him. "Are you two lovers?" London blushed, but the man next to him nodded. "That's nice. I bet he doesn't much like playing rough, hm? I should know."
I winked and I scribbled my address down so that they could ship the painting to where I lived. London looked lost, but then I wrote my name down, he was at a loss for words. We didn't need words between us.
I set down the light blue pen and walked out of the art show. I walked out of his life, feeling my heart stinging. I was bitter. I had been the only one to ever love him, and he had to go and love someone else like I always knew he would.
I was stupid, but I couldn't break my addiction.