Friday, August 7, 2009

Winds Of The Past (Story)

There are some things that happen in life you just don’t have any control over: failure, success, who you fall in love with… When you are young, you have these big ambitions and dreams, and when you’re older you love to recall the days you were naïve and innocent.

I must admit that I was slightly nervous about meeting you after all these years. After all those unreturned calls and letters you sent me, all those moments you probably needed me and I failed to be there for you. I’m probably not your favorite person in the world right now. Yet as you enter this noisy, small dinner, the only place that came to mind at the time, your face shines with happiness.

You weren’t hesitant in hugging me and asking me what seemed like million questions about my life. No signs of hurt or anger. Or maybe you just didn’t want to make this encounter awkward. You hadn’t changed much: your hair was slightly longer than the last time I had seen you before that summer when I moved; you had a slight tan, giving a nice glow to your skin. You looked healthy and confident.

We stayed in the warm atmosphere of that dinner for a long time, maybe three hours, talking about high school – the good old days. We had always been great friends since we were kids. You had always a harder time than me. I was always more introverted, but you were always more insecure. I still remember your loud sobs on the phone on the day you finally came clean with your parents. You were gay. I remember not hesitating one second to go to your house to try to make it better. I still remember how I wrapped my arms around you and let you cry on my shoulder. Your parents hadn’t accepted the news. They were very conservative about that kind of stuff.

That was back when we were only thirteen. I was unsure about my own sexual orientation. I admired you, because you had pride in your own sexuality and you dealt with the shit people threw at you.

You suddenly remembered my first romance back when we were high school freshmen. I had been with a girl and just couldn’t feel the sparks when we first kissed, but you didn’t know that, you thought it was just because we both just had feelings for other people and it didn’t work out. It only reminded me of the reason this meeting could go awkward.

I tried to avoid any topic that could lead to that moment I didn’t want to speak of. You were right in a way. I did have feelings towards another person. But I didn’t want to come to terms with it. I looked into your eyes as you told me about your senior year. The summer before that year my parents dragged me to another state, a couple of hours from my hometown, so I finished high school in another school. That was the hardest year for me, because I was avoiding you.

Then you asked me “Henry, why?” your expression very serious, almost pleading. You had gone all those years without knowing the real reason for me to ignore you and at that moment, that was the only thing that he really wanted to know…

The issue was inevitably brought up. I knew it would be, regardless of how the meeting went. You grew silent waiting patiently for an explanation. Why did I always have to be a coward? Why would I always run away from confrontations?

You didn’t care what people thought of you. But I did. I had to admit, I was very worried of how people would see me. I looked at you and felt small. I didn’t know how to explain my pathetic reasons. They all came out in short, unfinished sentences:

“I-I...Do you remember when-…Well…”

No answer seemed to do that question justice. I owed you more than an apology. I owed you the truth. And it was something I was afraid to admit even to myself. I had done everything to hide that secret. Wore another identity like a mask or a costume. Faked some feelings. I was not proud in who I became.

And yet you still waited for a response.

Why? The answer was so simple.

And suddenly, it poured out of my mouth.

When we were both in our junior year, I had developed some feelings towards you. I had dreamt of kissing your lips and getting my hands tangled in your hair. Of bringing my hands down to your waist and removing your pants and boxers. Of trailing my tongue down your torso… All of these thoughts reserved to my own mind.

I found out you also had the same feelings for me, when we were one day in your house, debating something about history when your lips met mine. Once you parted, your eyes glared over mine seeking shock, rejection, anything except what I did: kiss back. Lust took our bodies over and the next thing I remember was covering your neck in kisses and taking off your clothes, one piece at a time, leaving you bare naked before me. Then you pushed me onto the bed and started unbuttoning my shirt, dragging your tongue down my torso and making me shudder, you knew exactly what I wanted to feel and were spot on with every single touch.

This was all new to me. It was my first time. And I didn’t regret it at the time. You made me experience many new feelings and sensations - some painful, some pleasurable – and I felt loved for the very first time. After that afternoon, nothing could make my mood go down. Nothing at all. You were also smiling and you cupped my face between your hands, turning me to face you so you could kiss me. I felt whole at that moment. I wanted to come out of the closet like you.

But my family, they just couldn’t keep their mouths shut when I got home. They somehow managed to bring the topic of homosexuality up when we were having dinner and my parents were having a heated debate on how they thought that a man should elope with a woman, not another man. I felt myself getting smaller and going deeper into the chair. Luckily they left me out of the debate.

The next day, I went over to your house. All I wanted was to feel your lips pressed against mine, it would make me feel the bliss I felt the day before. I wanted that feeling to come back. Feeling your warm body wrapped around me, I finally let the frustration from the dinner the previous night out. I talked to you about it and you made me feel better. You thought it was best if I came clean to my parents. “I will,” I told him. I never did.

A month later, as I arrived home, my parents were both full of joy. My dad had been promoted, that was the good news. We had to move, that was the bad news. I had met you almost everyday and cherished every moment I had with you. But I never managed to say those three words: I love you. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to tell you either. I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t accept it either. So I wrote a letter and put it by your door the morning I left, which was only two months since we slept together. It didn’t say much, just explained why I couldn’t tell the news in person and at the end it said “I love you.”

As much as I loved you, I couldn’t face my parents about my sexual orientation. I decided to put on a mask. My mom introduced me to a girl and I had to put my mask on everyday. It would’ve never worked out between us in the end. I couldn’t handle the secrecy, so I decided to put my past behind us.

When I finished my explanation, you were close to tears. I wrapped my arms around you and apologized. Then you asked me another thing “So after all these years, why did you decide to meet again?”

This wasn’t going to be easy. So I decided that words wouldn’t be needed. I took out the small piece of paper from my pocket, slightly crumbled in the corners. It was so light, yet it felt so heavy as I placed it on the table and pushed it in your direction. You read the big letters in a fancy calligraphy my mom had picked out: Mr. Weber, you are invited to Henry Scott and Sinead Metzer’s wedding.

You stared at me, before looking back at the invitation in front of you. “I’m sorry…” I whispered. You were hurt. You were sad. And you were confused. Why had I invited you? Well, because I couldn’t go through with it without my best friend there. Only in front of you, I could take off my mask. Do a ‘striptease’, stripping off all the lies and personalities I had worn, until all that remained was my true self. Only in front of you. You looked at me and accepted it. “I’ll be there.” And I wanted so much to kiss your lips again. To feel your skin brushing against mine. To feel your warmth. But I lowered my head in defeat to life. In defeat to my cowardice.

Our meeting ended like that. Both of us with mixed emotions. I didn’t feel whole, a part of me was missing and I longed that part. You still loved me, but you accepted my decisions. We are the love story that never got written.

And as we walked out of that dinner, we gave each other a friendly, farewell smile. And I saw you fading away in the distance. And a fresh wind blew when I couldn’t see you anymore. It blew away the good memories as I put my mask back on. And I went against it, against the winds of the past.

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