"Yes! Yes! YES!" he's yelling, caught up in the moment. "Oh yeah!"
"Max!" I'm yelling as well. "Fuck!"
He sits back down on the couch next to me. "Alright. I'll let you go best 5 out of 7."
"You're on." I say, grabbing the controller. What can I say? The boy was a damn good smash brothers player. Better than... the ex was, anyways. I always used to enjoy playing videogames with him...
I wasn't really in the mood to play videogames anymore. I put down the controller quietly and get up. "Um... I think I concede for the day. Want something to drink? I have some sodas and stuff in the fridge..."
"Oh, oh ok. Yeah, anything would be great."
I get up and make my way to the small refrigerator I had in the corner, fishing out two cokes. I head back to Max. He's already switched the TV onto some random TV station and was starting to watch it, engaged completely in what he was watching. I pause for a minute to look at his face – he really was a very attractive guy. I now realize that Max was actually quite a similar build and height as my ex... and also shared the interest of videogames. Great ugh. Just my type. This one is probably even more straight than the last one.
"What's up Adam?" He asks, noticing that I had just been watching him watch TV.
I blush at being caught. "No, nothing. Just thinking. You kind of remind me of someone is all."
I hold out a coke to him. He reaches up and takes it off my hand – and again I get a weird tingly sensation when his fingers brush against mine. I seem to be getting that a lot lately from a lot of different people. I wonder if that makes me a slut, or if it just means I'm lonely. I wonder if sluts are that way because they're lonely. I wonder if I should ask him if he has a girlfriend.
"So... I kinda lied." He states, flatly.
"Well, not so much a lie, just kinda... um. Nevermind. I knew you were on my floor, I kinda just pretended I didn't. I saw you the other evening actually. It's kinda... embarrassing actually."
"What? How so?"
Max fidgets a little, passing his coke from one hand to another. "Um... sorry haha. Was that guy you were with... your boyfriend?"
Oh shit. He must have seen me with Dave. Um... um... "Um.... uh...."
He puts up his hands in the universal defensive 'it's cool' position. "No, it's all cool and all. I have no problem with gay guys."
So he's straight.
"I mean, you're a good looking guy Adam – you'd have a boyfriend."
So he's gay?
"Um. Not that I assume YOU would have boyfriends instead of girlfriends. Not that it's a bad thing to have boyfriends instead of girlfriends. Um... gosh."
So he's straight.
"Yeah." Is my simple response. "And no, he wasn't my boyfriend. And... no... I didn't sleep with him." The truth. Which I didn't even tell Will.
"You didn't? It sure looked like you were heading that way."
"Yeah well, I didn't." I reply back, a bit too harsh. Realizing this, I apologize quickly. "Um... sorry. That wasn't meant to be harsh. It's... yeah. Lots of baggage, that sort of junk... it's..."
"A long story?" he presses, finishing my sentence for me. I nod in response. "I've got time." He says.
"I..." I choked. I looked at him, and his eyes were earnest, and kind, and they looked like they wouldn't judge or say anything hurtful. I feel like I had known him for much longer than an afternoon, and that I could talk frankly to him.
So I tell him my story. I tell him about how I saw this amazingly gorgeous guy at school. How he played soccer and basketball and had amazing dark green eyes that just drew you in. I tell him about how we got assigned to the same school project, how we met up and hit it off (I left out the part about the videogames bringing us together, I don't know how he'd feel about that.) I talk about the stuff we went through, how I came out to my parents and my friends, how he eventually came out to everyone at prom, just for me. About all the troubles we faced afterwards with the school and with our classmates. Everything. All the while I never even mention the ex's name – I only referred to him as just that – the ex.
Until I reach the part about our breakup.
"And then... well... we ended."
"What? That's it? You just ended?" he asks, leaning closer to me on the couch he's been sitting on for the last hour or so. "Surely it wasn't that simple. It seemed like you had a lot of good things going... wasn't there... I dunno... other factors that came in?"
Where to start? How I put school and college over our relationship? How he suffered without ever telling me about it and how I never noticed? How he was hit on by the hottest guy in school and nearly had sex with him? How he proposed to me? How I turned him down? How we fought after months of a tension that I had been ignoring? How I spent weeks after we had broken up moping around and feeling like the biggest loser in the world? How I went back to him afterwards and begged him to take me back? How he betrayed me yet again? How I spent the months after that pretending I was moving on by concentrating on my work and exercising like a madman? How coming to college was supposed to be tabula rasa – a clean slate, when really, I still see pieces of him in everyone around me?
I feel the sting of what should have been tears, but I've already used them all up. "I... I... I'm sorry. I... can't." I swallow hard and lapse into silence.
I feel him stir as he moved close to me, pulling me near him and putting my arms around me. And his touch and warm embrace felt like they were thawing away at me. And... what do you know... I still had a few tears left in me, which I sobbed into this man who was practically a stranger. This stranger who feels like my ex. Who even hugs the same way, holding me with tightly with just the right amount of strength. He makes hushing noises, and I have this image of an alternate ending, where my ex didn't leave me crying in a stairwell, and instead held me to him just like this – assuring me that things were going to be alright after all.
"It's ok... Adam. It's gonna be ok." Max whispers.
"His name was Blake." I whisper back, and I start to believe him.
How long does it take to mend a broken heart?
It definitely isn't instantaneous. People who claim they're alright after having their heart ripped apart are either bullshitting or emotionally stunted.
Does it follow a formula? Some people think it takes an equal amount of time to heal as the length of time the relationship went for.
Maybe it never heals. That's just depressing. Yet... The healing process never felt like restoring myself back to new – but more like I got some seriously strong tape, chewing gum, paper clips and staples and did a botched job of mending my heart.
Functional, but definitely not good as new.
"Hey, sorry for not picking up my phone a while ago – Wednesday afternoons are a really bad time to reach me. Heyyyy... Something is different about you." Will says as I walk my way to his car, which he's parked at the side of the road. "Nice shirt by the way."
"Thanks." I say, approaching him. It was definitely a nice shirt – Max helped me choose it the other day when we went to the mall. It was a simple dark purple – almost black, but the shoulders fit me perfectly and it hugged my waist amazingly. The only downside was that it wasn't cheap. "So where are we off to today?"
"This other club I frequent. Slightly different crowd – younger than the last club. A lot more alternative types – plenty of Goths and emos, less of the hunky gym bunnies. Miles will be coming along a little bit later."
I get into the car in the passenger seat. "Hey Will." I say as he starts to drive.
"Um. Thanks. For everything."
He smiles his model smile, eyes still on the road. "No problem. You'll pay me back eventually, I'm sure."
I turn another hallway. My friends have deemed that I've gotten well enough to be roaming the school on my own now. Instead of actively trying to follow Blake I've now taken to actively avoiding Blake – and my friends think this is a definite improvement so they've let me sneak around the corridors on my own.
This was one of those times where I didn't have a class next with any of them, so I was doing the solo act and wandering the corridors. I still hadn't caught up with school work properly yet – preferring to spend my evenings doing the bare minimum amount of work and then just immersing myself in videogames. At the very least my college applications were still impressive – with most of the essays finished and the transcripts still stellar. However, I did miss out on one of the SAT tests I had signed up to take to try to improve my already impressive grade of 2270. I guess I'll just have to live with that grade.
I turn another corner and nearly ran into... Him. Him and his two best friends. Blake and Duke, with Christina holding hands with Duke, were walking down the hallway. They definitely notice me as I ducked to the side, eyes staring at Blake because I can't help it, feeling like the largest loser holding my school books, all alone. I now kind of did wish that one of my friends was walking with me. When they notice me their laughter died down, and I can see is Christina flashing me a look of pity – she was my chemistry lab partner, and still remains my lab partner even after Blake and I called it quits, and I'm very grateful that she never brings up any of it while in Chemistry. I see Duke flashing a look up at Blake to watch his best friend's reaction. And Blake... Blake glances and looks right at me for the first time since I can recall – and I see a bit of loss in his eyes, and sadness. We hold that look a few seconds too long.
I manage to break eye contact and briskly continue walking but I feel a hand on my shoulder. I spin around to face Duke, who's looking angry.
"Duke don't!" I hear Blake yell. People are starting to watch.
"Adam, will you just get it into your head that it's over between you two? OVER. Get a fucking clue and don't come near us." He yells at me.
"Duke!" Christina yells, reaching to pull him away from me. He just shrugs her off.
"Fuck you." It comes out as a whisper.
"Just. Fucking. Keep. Away. Let him move on!" he yells, before being pulled forcefully away by Blake, whose eyes are downcast so they don't look at me. They walk quickly away from me, Blake not turning around to look at me and Christina and him pulling Duke away. People begin to resume their normal activities, the scene being over.
"Fuck you." I whisper again to no one. "Fuck you!" I yell now, causing people to watch me again. Blake, Duke, and Christina are already out of hearing range but I yell it loudly again anyways. "FUCK YOU!!" I yell.
And I almost manage to believe that nothing ever felt as good as that.
Ehhh this chapter's been sitting around for ages but I finally think I can be satisfied with it enough to release it.
Sorry for the super super slow updates. I've come to this realization that I used to derive a lot of ideas through angst, but now that I'm over all that stuff I've been struggling to find new motivation. IT'S GETTING THERE.