It’s dark outside where we sit and winter is sucking the last bits of autumn away like a slurping straw getting to the end of a milkshake. “I can’t help it. It always happens,” I say. I take a long, shaky drag of my cigarette. “The beauty in certain people always entrances me.” I exhale and pass the cigarette to Queen.
He pinches it between his fingers and takes a drag.
“How unfortunate,” he says. His mouth fails at making the smoke into rings and they come out as warped, oblong hula hoops before they vaporize.
“No, unfortunate is not throwing your heart to the lions time and time again,” I say condescendingly. “Unfortunate is not feeling what life really is because you’re too damn afraid to.”
This always happened. Queen and I never agreed on anything. We were still universes apart.
“Falling for anyone and everyone who you feel the slightest romantic feelings toward sounds problematic, Cal.”
“It’s only problematic if you view it as problematic and it’s not just anyone and everyone.”
I can tell by his facial expression that he’s a little confused. When he’s feeling this way his brow narrows and he squints his eyes. That’s when all the wrinkles come out and show his true age. Crow’s feet. Laugh lines. All the things that make Queen beautiful.
“I’m drawn to more than one person and for all different reasons,” I explain. “Beauty. Intelligence. Quirks. Personality. There’s something that all these certain people have that connects with me. These people amplify me.”
“Still,” he says, disbelievingly.
“You’ll never love two people in the same way, Queen. Ever.” I can see the cogs turning in that head of his as I reach for the cigarette. “You’ll never love the second person like you did the first and you’ll never love the first person like you do the second.” I pause, let it sink in. “You can love two people simultaneously, Queen. I’m proof.”
Before I suck back a drag I take in the arctic-like air and let out a heavy sigh that could move mountains. I had held that inside of me for so long it had started to rot my insides. I was in love with two people. It felt good to finally say it out loud to someone. Correction. Who was I kidding. Not to someone. To him. I had finally exhaled the particles of myself that had been trapped at the bottom of my lungs.
“I think it’s wrong to be in love with more than one person. It’s not acceptable, Cal.”
I repeat his words in my head because I’m in complete disbelief of them. I can feel a rage swell up inside of me so violently that my arms and legs start to vibrate. I just ripped open my rib cage and shared the deepest part of myself and he has the nerve to take it here. Ok, Michael Queen. I’ll bite.
“Not acceptable? To who? You?” I snap back. I’m almost yelling right into his face, we’re sitting so close together. “Who defines the boundaries of who I am and who I’m not allowed to love if not myself?”
I’m still vibrating and the cold only magnifies the erratic movement of my limbs but for a moment afterwards our eyes meet. Connect. I look past the kaleidoscope designs of them. Past the small flecks of hazel in his green eyes and I feel I can see his soul and I remember why I fell in love with him in the first place.
I look away, lean back on the step and tilt my head up to the night sky. A sombre silence falls over us.
“Sorry,” I say, breaking it.
“Let’s forget the whole thing and just agree to disagree,” he says. I can tell he wants to change topics because it makes him uncomfortable but I don’t know if I can let him. Not this time. We’ve never spoken about it but I know he knows. I know there’s something there. We both do.
“It’s not wrong of me to throw my heart to the lions time and time again,” I repeat, hoping it sinks in a little further this time around. “It’s why I chose to be a writer, Queen, a failed one or not,” I half-heartedly chuckle. “My words are my soul escaped.”
“I say how I feel, too,” he says, defensively.
There’s a pause as though he’s reluctant to say something.
“No,” he whispers.
I feel a glimmer of hope spinning on a silver thread.
“Things left unsaid, even left on paper with no eyes to read them, will always breed regrets my friend.”
A sliver of warmth touches my face as I spark a match and light another cigarette. I look over to Queen and can tell he’s not satisfied yet.
“It sounds like a life of unhappiness, Cal. Never finding that one true love. That one soul mate to grow old with.”
“Love’s full potential has its costs.” I let the sentiment sit on my tongue before I swallow.
I stare back up at the night sky and see a million tiny sparkling fragments anchored to a giant full moon.
“I don’t get it,” says Queen.
“Let me ask you a question.” I point outwards to the sky. “When you see the moon you see the moon, right? You see its colour, its shape and its size, yeah?”
“Seriously?” he laughs. A deep roar; I want to wrap myself in it like a blanket.
“Well, yeah, doesn’t everyone?” He gives me a look like I’m the one who’s stupid but I know I’m not the one ignoring my feelings for someone else.
“No,” I say. “When I look up at the moon I don’t just see the moon. I feel it.”
“I still don’t get it.”
A sharp pain attacks my chest and I wince. I’m the stunned bird who just flew his head into the reflective window and crashed amongst the dirt. The veiled curtain quickly raises above my eyes and alarm bells ring inside my head like some cruel and horrible epiphany.
I realize that we will never be. That he will never openly love me back.
“How unfortunate,” I say.
I do my best not to let the overwhelming emotion wet my eyes and get the best of me. I stare back up at the moon.
About the Author: Adam Petrash is a writer who was born, raised and continues to live on the frozen tundra we call the Canadian Prairies. He calls Winnipeg home. Follow him on Twitter @AdamPetrash.
Story Song: "Staying Alive" by Cursive