He is standing in the doorway, leaning on the frame, arms crossed, eyes wide, staring at me. I stand before him in my pajamas, but I may as well be naked. I don't particularly remember blurting out everything that has happened in my life since he last attempted contact—Brian, that is. Brian with an "I." But I know that I must have, for when he arrived he was standing straight and tall. When I opened my mouth, the minutes passed, and now he looks tired, his defenses weakened, showing a sort of awe or concern for the person I have become.
I can kind of feel it, too, this awe. I am somewhat surprised at myself. I really have changed since the last time we spoke.
No words are exchanged for a long moment. I half want to say to him, "What do you expect? You left me to be better—that doesn't mean I'm better now, too." And it's true, I'm not. I'm not better, but am I worse?
I don't voice any of this. I let him absorb it. Yes, I smoke weed, now, Brian. Yes, I have been reduced to your typical hung-over teenager, kneeling and puking in the grass. Yes, I have been seeking out whatever male attention I can find – no, I'm not a slut, yet. No, but I'm getting close. Closer with every pair of lips, each tongue, condom wrappers, crumpled sheets.
I jumped on the bandwagon. I leapt into a crowd of starving zombies and let them gnaw at my susceptible young flesh. I took one look at the peer-pressure vampire, said "Fuck it," and let him bite my neck. I let him bite me everywhere he wanted. I've been getting sort of desperate.
Now you're judging me with your watery eyes, I think, but I can't quite place the emotion. Maybe you're not judging me at all. Maybe I'm just paranoid.
But I'm definitely curious, that much is true. It's killing me, not knowing what's going on inside your head. There might have been a time when I could tell just by looking at you how you were feeling, what you were thinking. But it's an ability that fades without practice, and I've not seen your face in so long.
Finally you wet your lips as though you are about to speak. (I dreamt of kissing those lips once, but the fantasy is hazy now.)
So do it. Lay it on me, give it to me straight. I'll lie and tell you I can take it if that's what has to be done. Spit it out, let it go. Tell me.
But when you finally speak, your voice slightly breaks, soaked with sincerity that pierces a deep, secret part of me. I was beginning to wonder if the care now ringing in your tone was ever meant for me. I am shocked to learn that it might be.
"I feel partly responsible," you tell me. "I feel like I let you down."
My eyes are glazed. They weren't only seconds ago.
I painfully manage to answer.