title: that is, despite reality.
count: 1065 words
count: 1065 words
that is, despite reality.
The year is 1983. The war is over, suburbia is booming. And you are there, caught up in it all in your scuffed hand-me-down boots, faded red tartan and that little lost expression on your face.
The first time you suspect you are not quite, well normal per say, is after the first time you tried it with a girl.
She was a pretty little thing, slim brown limbs in a yellow-white polka dot dress, flashing knees that knocked together and prominent collarbones as she chewed on licorice from the corner shop. It costs two cents, that licorice - a third of your weekly pocket money.
You had given her flowers one day - the first golden wattle of the seasons, handpicked and bound by a fading satin ribbon - along with a confession that your heart was never really in.
You ended up tripping over your words as if someone had forgotten to smooth out the concrete that makes up the sidewalk. Then a face, it fell. Your face, that was as shiny and red as the fire engine that blurred past - the one you saw vaguely but did not hear because you were too busy getting your wilted flowers thrown back at you as your heart rumbled its little pieces, like the breaking of the surf rolling over hard wet sand.
Even though you did it for the sake of it, it still hurt. It is a part of life, your father had said. You think he would not know - a single father raising a boy has no time for anything else.
But like all puppy-love stories, you forget about it in two and a quarter days. It is only years later that you come to think of her again, when a long-forgotten acquaintance mentions in passing that she had died during childbirth when she was sixteen, five years after she had rejected you. Her boyfriend had run off with the local barmaid, and the child, well, no one quite knew where the child was now. She had been lost in the shuffle of the social welfare system after a string of foster homes.
He was a sophomore, tranferred from another part of the world, from Asia. It sounded exotic, and you like rolling the sound around on your tongue. Asia. It commands an image of age-old traditions, polished, lacqured red woods with inlaid shimmers of mother-of-pearl and the butterfly flick of jade on eyelids.
You find him one night, hidden partially by the big red gum that looks even redder because the sky is bloody and dripping its pinkness into the worn brick of your neighbourhood. He is smoking a cigarette with the paper crumpled and unfurling - a fashionable thing in Japan, he says, nevermind that it is terrible for both your pocket and your health. And his breath, you find out later.
Too fast, maybe, as you shove away the hand that has slipped into the back pocket of your ill-fitting pants. He is startled, evidently, flustered even as he realises what he's doing and that's when you know you're definitely going too fast.
"I'm... I'm not queer or anything," he mutters, dropping his gaze to the burnt out stubs on the ground. "It's not like I go around, picking up boys or something. I'm not like that. I'm-"
The nicotine gets addictive you find, or maybe it's just his mouth, the shape of it, the wet warmth and the way his upper lip slots in between yours, just a little fuller than your own and roughened because he doesn't own Chapstick. Maybe fast is the way you both want it.
(You are not- The word dies on your lips, feels guilty on your lips because it's a dirty little secret you share with no one, not even yourself. You are not gay, just, just that your type does not happen to be female. They broke your father's heart, and yours, even more than you would care to count (though you know it is less than twenty, and a prime number).
But you cannot disappoint him, humiliate him. He's the man that has worked day and night to get you through to the other end and out into the world as well set up as you can both afford. No, you cannot humiliate him like this.)
You meet again the next night, further along the veranda, under eaves that drip with leaf litter and dusty raindrops.
The sky is- actually, you're not quite sure what colour it was this time, you were much too preoccupied with the soft, nicotine-flavoured lips and browned skin that tastes sour-sweet and a little salty. It smells of that sunscreen-y smell, melted into sweat, and grass and the steaming pavement of the city-burbs framed with colour after a summer shower. That place, it's in limbo because it's not quite city, not quite suburbia. A hybrid, a fusion, it doesn't fit in anywhere and it's lonely while it works up to success.
You were not made for each other, two square-shouldered pegs in a child's felted toolbox of serendipity - one of wattle-daub and the other of quicksilver.
You are the cheerful little boy from down the road, with the soft pale skin and sun-lightened hair that curls around your shirt collar, and they expect you to laugh gaily and smile readily. He is the dark, stoic overseas newcomer, and they fear him a little, but they're mostly in awe of his strange, foreign ways. Stiffly side by side, and they think you'll get nowhere together but backwards in a flood of tears and tantrums.
They, whoever they are, society, "respectable" society who regularly hushes the imprudence of society-page girls and the infidelity of former debutante escorts but pounces on "indecency" when there is a scandal to be splashed across the evening paper. They are the ones whose superficial demands encroaches on your host smile and ensure you spend most of your evenings in an uncomfortable penguin suit watching pretend people dancing away into the wee hours of the morning.
Somehow, they are partially right.
You are in limbo, going nowhere. Neither of you know exactly what this is, where you're going, even who you are, but you're not sure you'd trade what you have at present for the world, because really, going nowhere's not quite so lonely anymore.