A story made up of broken chronological scenes, broken thoughts, broken sentence structures, and broken hearts.

M/M slash implied.

Checkered Plastic Lunchbox


His fingers drew back the curtains. The overloaded backpack landed at his feet with a sad thump just as he frowned.

"I would pick a room with a better view if I had a choice."

I stood there with my own luggage. "Am I not good enough eye candy for you then?"

He laughed lightly, a bell tinkling in the wind. "I meant outside the window, stupid."

I tossed my jacket carelessly on the bed, the one on the right side of the room. "You're not exactly scoring high on my list by calling me stupid, you know."

The glass pane threw a square of light onto my face.

"Too bad you don't have a choice, either."

– – –

The scent lingering about his pillow was faint. Almost a mixture of giddying virtuality and fresh-picked greens, the way his eyes always were.

I snuggled deeper into the folds of his sheets, and watched him slumber in mine, a rouge-cheeked grinning fool that had a drop too much. Perhaps because in his post-party hallucination the beds looked congruent. Perhaps because mine was closer to the door. I did not know.

Perhaps because the wisps of snow falling through the air and the window ajar were meant to be shared. After all, it was Yuletide.

Warm.

His shadow slipped into place right next to me. Conscience prised us apart, and my hand closed upon space. I blinked, in the moonshone silence of winter. He continued to sleep by the wall across.

Warmed.

– – –

A smiling white moon and accompanying star. Behind it was a sea of black and grey squares. Under it was Japanese sticky rice with black sesame seeds and condiments that smelled faintly sweet and salty. On top of it were four slices of grilled fish that glistened in the morning light.

Simply, evident abuse of the hostel kitchen.

His smile grew brighter.

"And that you are going to be my guinea pig, yes." He nudged the box closer. "Tell me what it's like."

I noticed his soft eyes following the chopsticks' progress slowly — the rice, the tip of the fish slice, the air, my mouth — then flickering to my own. My mind slipped into deep forest.

The empty wood melted into his proximate presence, and the reverie flew away.

I merely shook my head.

The softness ebbed, yet rose again as I appreciated his effort till the end. "Just joking." Concurrent was the desire to embrace that verdure. That delectability refined on my palate.

Perhaps we both felt the same.

"Thank you." I returned his smile.

"If you insist. But I fancy some salmon omelette next time."

My smile grew brighter.

"Just joking."

– – –

Whistling zephyrs wished themselves around my ears. The waters were serene, comforting in coolness. Sunlight continued stroking me, the little finger above the lake's surface. Then the length of my face. Across my lids. My lips.

Come the event horizon and the worldlet collapsed, only to feel the same warmth in its strangest caress. Yet I knew, and quested.

The light turned a dark solid.

I let out a deep sigh in a redundant negligence. The sunlight was forced back into its accretion disc, and gone. All I saw was nothing.

And within that nothing, a small silhouette crouching behind the drawers. Trembling with surrounding gravity. Holding against his cheek a hand onto which five equivalents of lost light were formed. Fearing propinquity, discovery, and further collapse.

Under the bedcovers I lay, still as the night outside the picture window.

– – –

The extension of architecture was almost complete, and in turn the sky was devoured. For the last time before summer I closed the window, and him the scratched metal clasp of his bag.

We stood in the failing twilight, a metre and miles apart.

"Is there anything you want to tell me?"

In the great sea of tangerine he nearly drowned and disintegrated, and I was a mirrored mask. About to cast my parallel wordlessness back towards his heart, yet muted by tight ceramic lips.

I saved neither of us.

"No, of course not." A dented bell in turbulent breeze. "Why would there be?"

His feet padded through the doorway, and I watched him leave, much smaller and sadder than before. I forced my artificial mouth apart, but the faintest breath shattered it into minims, and bled it into coerced silence.

– – –

"I like you."

The lone moon and star sat quivering in his hands. Contents emptied, motive realised. Thirty-six hot breakfasts amounting to three simple words that could have been six.

I held his shadow in my arms, and whispered truth. Conscience again drew me back. Shoes and naked feet danced away, along with the softness of beaten egg and butter. The last hopeful sun shining in his forest set, and spilled bitter dew.

"I . . ."

He bowed his head, ashamed. I saw his fingers reach for mine, and struck him hard. Dreams and silhouette fell into oblivion. Eyes that shed perpetual desolation.

"No." I stepped away, and turned the doorknob. An archway to righteousness, of blinding light. "Get out of here."

Squares of colour reeled beneath us. A triumphant king, a fallen queen. The queen's pawns stood tenacious, but the black knights scattered dead. A Pyrrhic victory.

He wept.

"Get out of here. Now."

Time and tears trickled past. I turned and slammed the door shut behind me. The droplet of scarlet on his lip, burning. Different eyes down the hallway that stared daggers of interest yet shed nothing more.

The fallen star kissed the darkness, the moon overturned.

– – –

I sat down quiet, back against the wall. The cider puddle twinkled and played across my fingertips, the rest mellow in its can. Night sent petals of white from decorative pots on the grotesque building opposite soaring onto his empty bed. One I once slept, dreamt and smiled in.

Had I the key I would have unlocked the bathroom and healed his broken soul. The second locket that resided in mine, guarded by conscience. I had it, but I could not.

The sandwiches remained untouched in its oasis on my table.

I listened to him amid the pattering water. Washed down my lies with sparkling liquid. The room erupted into ribbons of phosphorescence.

"I'm sorry."

His silhouette wrapped its arms around itself, and we sobbed, together, into the wee hours of dawn.

– – –

The dial tones died into disrupted signals. The sound that seemed so similar to another mode of demise.

I left the coiled wire stretching to the floor. Ceiling and walls merged, swam about in my mind's eye. His shadow screamed and plunged, down and down. Yet I stepped back into fragile balance.

They had found him lying on a garden swing, life carried away by little capsules of deep slumber while gently pendulating, in his pool of tears. I could not remember the time we visited that famous parkland many train stations away, along with the rest of the class. Yet I remembered the time we returned from the trip, his head against my shoulder while he slept and the bus rolled along.

Perhaps that was why I was last to hear of it.

The checkered plastic lunchbox lay on the desk as before, the seventh time left neglected and unloved. Hours and hours had passed after it had been tenderly filled and warmed, and now it was cold.

It could have been not.

With hands that trembled like his did I undid the locks, and lifted the chessboard. Inside was my favourite salmon omelette, cherry tomatoes at the side, lettuce crisps in a tiny bed. All forgotten.

I gripped the box tight in my hands. Failing to revive that hopeful request of his, that one last chance we could have held together. In my contrary truth I ceased fighting back the tears, in grief, bringing myself at last to admit that I loved him too.

-fin-