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Chapter Fifty-Three Letting Go: Part Three Being

Eventually, we just ran out of tears. There was no use crying for something we couldn’t change, and as the day passed, I knew I wouldn’t want to change it. This was what needed to happen; Gerard needed to go to Paris to discover and finally complete his dreams. I needed to stay here and do … something. I knew I could figure it all out once I had the chance to think, but I directed my thoughts on Gerard for the moments we had left. I wanted to know everything about him, do everything with him, and spend as much time as I possibly could with him. I spent this time constantly hovering near him. We eventually got out of bed, our tongues calling out for some kind of moisture that we could no longer provide ourselves. I left him for the first time since I had gotten to the apartment as I went to the kitchen and he to the bathroom. I stuck my head under the tap in the sink, too thirsty to get a glass. I lapped up the water, my chest still hurting even after I had drank an entire ocean. I couldn’t stand to be away from him, if only for a few seconds and we were in the same apartment. I didn’t know how I had survived weeks without him when all the legal shit was being processed and clarified. There were some days during that week where I thought of Gerard, but it wasn’t a compulsive urge. It had returned to that urgency, and though I felt like a clingy baby, his hands gripping mine the same way made me brush off my worries.

He tried to get us to eat something, but both of our stomachs were too twisted to realize that they were only full of emotion. He cut off some French bread, placing it in front of me, but I could only stare at the pores thinking that he would no longer have to buy this imitation from the supermarket. He could buy the real thing from a small shop in Paris. I pushed the plate away then, walking out of the kitchen. I carried the bottle of wine from the table with me and collapsed on the couch. He followed, placing his body on me delicately, and burying his head in my neck.

We couldn’t go too long without touching or kissing each other, the embraces making sure that our time had not come yet, and we were still there. I stroked his hair on the couch, my fingers tangling and feeling the sticky sweat from all of our activities together. Our bodies were caked with dirt, grime, and sadness. It was only a matter of minutes before we were in the shower together, his fingers back in my hair, washing me with his European shampoo. The smell was still just as bitter as before, but I inhaled so deeply, I began to cough up water. I wanted to remember everything, and I wanted him to touch me everywhere. I told him that if he wasn’t going to take the shampoo with him, that I was going to keep it, hoping to remember him in some feeble manner.

“Go ahead,” he told me, pushing my head back under the stream of water to get the suds out. “Take whatever you want, but there are other ways of remembering me.”

Before I could ask for clarification, I felt his lips on my neck, over my Adam’s apple and down to my collar bone, sucking and cleaning me through the shower jet. We stayed in the shower, just kissing and touching each other, never actually getting off, until our fingers and hands were pruney. We were forced to get out once all of the hot water was used up, and we were left shivering in each others arms again. The apartment only had so much running warm water, and knowing how John the super was, it was even less than usual.



Outside the shower, Gerard dried me off with his towels, our lips meeting and pecking every so often. I returned the favor with the same towel, my hands still shaking despite the fact that I was feeling better about everything. I was beginning to think that these shakes would become a permanent part of my body, and was gradually growing to accept it. Most of the time I didn’t even notice that my fingers were trembling, not until Gerard grabbed me, kissing the pads of them over and over again, making me stay in place.

After we were dry, Gerard got out a much larger towel, or maybe it was just a bed sheet (the only detail I was paying attention to was him) and wrapped both our bodies together inside. It was warm, too warm really, and our skin still retained some of the moisture the towel had missed. It made us feel clammy and sweaty all over again, but it didn’t matter. Walking crookedly together, we made our way outside the bathroom, to his couch again, pushing the coffee table away and against the broken TV as we made a nest for ourselves on the ground. Gerard brought back the conversation from the shower, the acoustics much better inside the small apartment’s vast living space. We sat together, brainstorming and recalling as many memories as we possibility could, trying to make ourselves feel better, but only having a bitter tinge to each smile and laugh we shared.

We talked about our art lessons, how he avoided them like the plague in the beginning, only to have me think he was a complete and utter maniac when we did begin and I saw him destroying his paintings. And how that maniacal opinion of him was only furthered when he made me smash beer in the middle of his floor, the very next day.

“I am a maniac, though,” he corrected me. We were sitting with our backs against the couch, wine bottle by my side and his arm around the other one.

“True,” I teased, looking over and seeing a mad gleam in his eye. “But I like insanity. It gives reason to things people don’t quite always understand.” My mouth dropped when I was done, realizing how rich my thoughts were becoming.

“My, my,” he expressed, also surprised by my sudden out burst of philosophy. “I like the way you think.”

I liked the way he thought too, but instead of saying it, we brought out lips together and kissed our way through the rest of the memories. We talked about the no clothing rule, and how I couldn’t imagine wearing anything else but his skin against mine after he was gone. I said it with such a somber quality, the beauty of the action fading fast. He brought me into his lap then, his arms around me, covering me like his jacket.

“If you want to stay naked, stay naked,” he assured me. He took his hands and placed them over my shoulder blades, running down my arms interlocking our fingers. His legs were bent and he pushed me back on the gently for balance. He kissed my chest, his tongue trailing down my body as far as it could go. He stopped at my nipple, his breath warm on my left side. It took me awhile to understand why he had stopped there, but the pounding in my chest brought it all back to me. He was over my heart, watching and waiting, listening to it as it beat slowly and steadily. I had almost forgotten it was still there inside of me. With the amount of bad news I had been hearing that day and over the past few weeks, my heart had suffered so much abuse, I was surprised it had not ceased to function yet. I thought it was rendered useless at some points, but Gerard begged to disagree. He didn’t use words, merely his small and subtle actions to prove that my heart was still beating. We were still alive, despite feeling like death was approaching us.

What was happening really did feel like death. Another twisted sense of rebirth and reincarnation, starting another life, out of the life Gerard had given me. Our souls were bending and changing, like Gerard had told me they did. They never died though, because they didn’t age and even if I never did see Gerard again, I knew that somehow we would still be connected. The thought of never seeing him again, never making it to Paris or forgetting about him completely caught me off guard. It gripped my chest that had just started to heal again. Gerard was so hopeful in his talk of Paris, his dream, both of our new lives, together, I had just assumed I would see him again. But I didn’t know how I would.

When could I go to Paris? I had no money to buy a plane ticket, and no way of finding a place to live in the foreign land. God, I didn’t even know how to speak French. The only phrase I had committed to memory was sacré bleu from the first day together. And really, that was the only reason I had remembered it. It was Gerard first direct words to me, opening up my horizon. I didn’t even remember the gist of the poem he had recited to me that one time. The French language was torn up and twisted, upside down at best, and it would never stick in my mind. How could I survive in Paris, especially if I didn’t find him? I began to realize that after this night, despite our faithful vows, this could be nothing. We could be over. That chapter, that experience done and forgotten. For once, I hoped my memories did plague me like they were in that moment, just so I could on onto the chance of some recollection of the man I was sitting on.

“What’s wrong?” Gerard asked, his ear still over top of my left breast. He must have heart my heart skip a beat. He looked up at me, his chin still touching my hot skin.

“Is our chapter over for good now?” I asked, looking down at him. My expression was strained, crows feet that I didn’t know I had appearing around my eyes. Gerard sighed, kissing his way up to my face, but stopping at my lips, seriously answering me.

“Yes, it is.” He was so close to me now, our chest pressed against each other, that I could hear his heart beating too. “We’ve both changed, for the better. We’re ready to be apart from one another and have a life – a new chapter – for ourselves.” He tilted his head to the side, unlocking our fingers together and running his hand through my hair. It was dry now from our shower, fluffing up under his touch.

“But what about Paris?” I probed, voice higher than usual. “I thought you said I could come if I found my own way?”

“You can,” Gerard nodded, his fingers relocating to the back of my neck. “It may take years, or decades, but you can come to Paris and find me. And we’ll start right where we left off.” He leaned forward, brushing his lips against mine, still not reacting.

“But what if I never make it?”

“Then I’ll still see you again,” he assured me, blinking slowly. There was no chance we were going to cry again, but we could feel the remnants of tears. “We have an epilogue, remember?”

He smiled, baring his baby-like teeth up close to my face. They were honestly the weirdest things I have seen, how they all seemed filed down, like he never lost his first set of teeth, and yet they still appeared aged and old, stained from years of cigarette and coffee consumption. But his teeth were only a mere second thought as the words that flowed past them hit my ears. This may have been the end of our chapter, starting a different section in our book of life, but we still had that epilogue. I had almost forgotten about it, our story after the story. I remembered the idea that Gerard threw around that night, splattering words on a page and building my hopes up for that departure date we thought was in the distant future. Our chapter may have been ending sooner than we thought it would, but I had hope suddenly, beyond the faithfulness I felt for him, that we would start writing again. Like Gerard said, he didn’t know how long it would be. Could be years, days, decades, and maybe even other lifetimes, but we would get our epilogue. I smiled back at him, pulling him in closer.

“What do you think would be in our epilogue?” I asked, after we had kissed again, our lips and limbs tangled, tying ourselves in knots hoping that maybe if we were stuck together, then we could stay this way a little longer. I had no idea what time it was, and though it was still sunny outside, I knew it was still slipping through our fingers. I was glad I couldn’t see a watch or clock because I would have been too preoccupied with the moving hands rather his in my own. He squeezed me tightly, liking the question I had asked.

“Well,” he started, overdramatically motioning with his head. He flipped his bangs off to the side, fluffy from the recent shampoo and began to speak again. “I think it will be in Paris. I would love for it to be in Paris – just think of it, Frank!” He took a deep invigorating breath, spanning out his hand over the fake horizon in our minds.

“The Paris fields, the tiny shops, The Eiffel Tower. It would be gorgeous. We could buy a small little apartment, maybe next to the River Sens and have sex all morning, shop all afternoon, and then paint – or take pictures,” he gave me a wink, “all evening. Wouldn’t that be romantic? France itself it the epitome of romance, and with you there, it would make the experience more than that.”

He gave me a wry smile once he had completed, and I mirrored his action. I listened to his dreams over cloud our minds, creating a new dream that we could be awake for. I loved how he talked with such a strong enthusiasm for something I knew that may never happen. It didn’t matter though if it didn’t because the pictures he was painting, his words rounding off the tip of his tongue sounded a lot better than anything I had ever heard before, real or not.

We should write a book together, I thought suddenly. Just about us. I could take pictures for it, or maybe he could even paint them. It would be a long, epic beast, but so were we. We were spanning lifetimes.

“Paris, me, you, and the French language. I’d like that,” he concluded, resting our hands back in the ditch between our bodies. “A lot.”

“Me too,” I stated honestly, my smile hurting the sides of my face. “But I don’t know any French.”
“I can teach you,” Gerard stated, his word choice making us both smile painfully at the same time.

“I barely know English some days,” I joked, trying to fill the air. He laughed too, suddenly bringing his lips over my own. He traced his tongue on the outside of my lips almost immediately, and I allowed him entry, kissing him with a new hungrier passion.

I wondered, when in Paris, if we would still kiss the same way.

“That is the first step towards French,” Gerard stated seductively, after we had pulled away from our embrace. “What do with you tongue.”

He winked at me and leaned forward, giving me another mini-lesson that I could definitely participate in.

“Maybe French isn’t so bad,” I teased, pulling away sooner than he wanted me too. He smirked at me, knowing what I was doing. It felt good playing around like this again.

“It’s beautiful,” he corrected, hovering his lips around me still, pecking at my jaw line between words. “You only need to know a few select phrases anyway. Then you can just bluff your way through everything. What do you think I do?”

He cocked an eyebrow at me, proud of the fact that he was full of shit, or merde, as he taught me next. Swear words were one of the definite key phrases I needed to know, as well as how to say my name, ask ‘how are you’, and for directions. I repeated each time he said the phrase, trying my hardest to get my tongue to cooperate inside my mouth, and flick off the certain points when I needed to. He helped me in between phrases, getting to know our tongues more and more, making our lessons slow down significantly. Though I repeated what he said, I knew I would probably never remembered any of this come the morning, when he was going to be on a plane, speaking the language that rolled off his tongue and into my mouth. I felt bad that I wouldn’t remember anything, but I needed something concrete in order for it all to compute, in order for it all to sink in. I was just hearing weird sounds and guttural sounds. I could mimic, but it didn’t make much sense. I had been around Gerard and his own dialect for months at that point, and I hadn’t learned a single thing beyond two select phrases. It wasn’t going to change now, even if we were desperate.

“Is there anything else I need to know?” I asked, still wanting him to share as much as he could, despite my learning disability. He thought for a moment, bunching his lips together when they weren’t on me.

“Just one and you don’t even need to know how to say it,” he breathed, his round eyes wider than usual. “Just remember it.”

I smiled, liking the sound of that. He must have started to clue in that though I was repeated, my mind was still blank. “What?”

“Je t’aime,” he said, deep and throaty in a quick breath. He put his lips over mine again, but didn’t bother to dive his tongue into my mouth right away.
“What does that mean?” I didn’t bother to repeat it again, because he had told me not to worry.

“I love you,” he stated honestly, and suddenly, French didn’t seem too hard to remember anymore.

“Je t’aime,” I repeated soundly, looking and watching his eyes light up as I said the French phrase. God, it felt so good seeing his eyes do that. I began to understand why he was so amazed when mine did the very same thing.

“Your pronunciation was a little off,” he teased, breaking the thick air that had formed between us. He rubbed his nose against my own, sly smile on his face. “But I can help you with that.”

He pressed his lips against mine again, slipping his tongue inside to help me along. I was determined to learn the phrase, not just for himself, but for me this time.

We kissed for awhile, tongues touching and noses brushing against each other, crafty remarks and quips slipping past our lips as much as the other person did. I knew the happy and playful air wouldn’t last for long, but while it did, we were going to hold onto it. It made us forget for a little while longer.

We soon went back to our brainstorming, speaking of Paris and the many things Gerard was sure it had to offer. He wanted to see The Eiffel Tower – that was a must. He was absolutely dead set on that being the first thing he saw when he got there too. He said he wanted to live in there, but it would probably be too much money.

“And the small fact that it’s a tourist attraction?” I quipped, nudging him with my forehead, causing him to give me a sly smile.

“Hush,” he commanded, sing-song voice waving through the air like his hand, which he brought down on me for another quick embrace. I smiled and listened as he went on, my heart only hearing a little bit as he talked about what he was going to do in the next chapter of his life. He figured it would be like his New York adventure again, only maybe he’d have a little more money and wouldn’t have to sleep in a park and live with rats. Everything was a lot more expensive there, and though he had a good chunk of his family’s inheritance left, and he could get money from Viv and his brother whenever he needed it, he was reluctant to take it. He wanted to make his own money, starting up from scratch again.

“I want to feel like a real artist again,” he explained. My head was on his chest, looking up and him as he talked and got into his story, occasionally adding me in as a minor character every once in awhile. “I want feel like I need to sell my work and be serious about it because it will be my only source of income. The other money is there, just in case, but I would rather not use it. The fucking ticket was expensive enough.”

He smiled, looking over his shoulder to make sure the blue paper was still sitting on the kitchen table. It was, though I had to fight off many bad urges to rip it apart. Or at least hide it, making him promise to take me with him. I knew I could never do that to him, especially as I listened to him talk about it the way he was. He was so excited, so exuberant. It was clear he hadn’t thought much of it through, and this was an impulse buy threaded together from distant memories. The idea had seemed to far off, so unattainable before that Gerard needed to keep talking about it, if only to make it all more clear inside his own head. He was rehashing his dream again and working out small kinks to make it come true. He was determined on becoming famous, like the Van Gogh of this time, but he wasn’t going to cut off any body part.

“If I did, though,” he said, joking around with a touch of seriousness. “You know I would give it to you.”

I laughed and shoed away his next question, of what body part I would want from him. I didn’t want to think about mutilation at that point in time.

“Gerard, will you write to me?” I questioned, my voice small. I wasn’t too sure if this was allowed. I may have been ready and needed to walk the world alone, but was I still going to be able to contact him? And him me? Just the thought of receiving a letter from him, every week, hell I would have settled for less than that, made my heart flutter. He hated technology, so there would be no email exchanging between the two of us, and the phone bills would definitely be too high to call, but a letter seemed just as good. Better even, because it was that much more romantic, poetic, and everything that people read about in movies or books. I liked the idea of looking at his handwriting (something I had only seen a few times before). I could also keep these letters and notes of his and it made the idea of letting him go on without me a lot easier. Of course, I should have realized by now that nothing was easy.

“No,” he said right away, shaking his head defiantly.

“Why not?” I asked again, my voice choking up a bit. I wasn’t going to cry, but I was so startled with his answer. Why wouldn’t he want to write me? Wasn’t he just as sad and scared about his departure that was creeping closer and closer as I was?

He turned his head back to me, his hard features from before melting. He had been thinking of his own hesitance to write, and not the effect on me. He reached forward and touched my cheek, his thumb rubbing my flushed skin.

“I would write,” Gerard stated slowly, thinking of his excuse. “But I’m not good with words.”

“But you talk like a poet!” I moved away from his hands and I looked at him with furrowed brows and an open mouth, trying to comprehend the words he gave me – the ones he apparently wasn’t good at.

Despite sounding too exaggerated and forced, my statement was nothing but the truth. He did talk like a poet and a philosopher. He exuded that so much on some days it left me just wanting to hear his voice over and over again. He had told me about his minor learning disabilities as a child, how he was a late speaker and such, but fuck, it didn’t matter. I didn’t care if he hadn’t been able to speak until age thirty or some foolish notion, he could speak now and everything he said was better than anything I had heard. He could just spit out random philosophies and have them make so much sense. He made me think, but more so he made me want to think myself – a task that was huge to accomplish, for anyone.

“Don’t call me a poet,” Gerard replied, furrowing his own brows and shaking his head, leaving me shocked once more. It was supposed to be a compliment. “All poets write is drivel.”

I laughed, his explanation and the way he screwed up his face to the notion, clearing somewhat of the harsh air between us. Gerard wasn’t trying to hurt me by not writing a letter; he just didn’t want to sound foolish. It was an impossible feat in my mind, and I tried to make that clear to him.

“Drivel is only for the romantic poets. You don’t speak about just romance, though. You have so many opinions on such a vast landscape of topics. And I won’t get to hear all of them just now.” I paused, the reality setting in again. “So I need you to write me letters.”

He sighed, thinking things over a bit. I could tell he wanted to write to me, but there was still a hesitance in his being. Maybe this was against the rules of being ready, though we had never been good at following them in the first place. Maybe we were supposed to stay by ourselves; save everything for the epilogue. But we could still fill some pages in between, I thought desperately. Right?

“I have a hard time getting my words down on paper,” Gerard expressed quietly, nibbling on his thumb as he thought. He looked at me and pursed his lips, hoping I could understand. I sort of did; I knew I would have a hard time getting my own thoughts down about him on paper. To be honest though, he could have written me a letter with random words spliced together, making absolutely no sense at all and I would have been happy, just knowing it was from him.

“How about you just draw me pictures,” I suggested, the brilliant thought hitting me. My eyes lit up with the possibility. All Gerard was used to communicating his feelings with was through his art. Everything he felt or did embodied it in some way; it was a language in and of itself. I didn’t need to see his declarations of love written down over and over again; there was only so many ways you could say it without getting bored. But he could draw it, many, many different ways and I had a feeling it would never get old.

I stared at him, waiting to see his reaction. He creased his forehead, eyes widening as if he had never thought of the idea before.

“I don’t know…” he trailed off, waving his hand in uncertainty. “I don’t even know where I’ll be staying yet.”

“Then send me a picture when you’re ready. You have my address. I don’t care how long I have to wait; it will be worth it.”

I didn’t care how emotional and sappy I sounded. I just wanted some damn pictures. Gerard sighed a bit, tilting his head as he tossed the idea around inside.

“I’ll try…”

“Promise?”

“I never promise,” Gerard said, shaking his head once again, like he had done with his first refusal.

“That’s a promise right there,” I countered, my chin high insolently. Gerard met my gaze, surprised by how quick I could spit out the truth-filled words. I gave him a wry smile, unable to contain my umbrage from before. He reached his hand over to me, sliding it up my body more and touching the back of my neck. He played with my hair for awhile, curling and twisting his fingers, just staring at me, shaking his head with the same supercilious smile.

“Fine,” he agreed, less hesitation in his voice. “I’ll draw pictures for you whenever I can.” He began to move closer to me, about to kiss when he paused, and smiled again. “I promise.”

“That’s all I wanted to hear.”

 

Our conversation didn’t end there. Gerard carried on about his future art career and painting extravaganza. He talked to me about how maybe, after he had established himself in Paris, if not in the art center then at least as a wine connoisseur, then he may venture outside the small country. Go to Holland, see the Mona Lisa, see other paintings. He wanted to be completely immersed in art, live and breathe it, so it would help his own craft. He kept talking about what he would paint first, what he wanted to see, and how he would paint it, and though it excited me and I truly believed that he could do all of those things, another sudden question popped into my head instead.

“When was the last time you sold a painting, Gerard?” I questioned curiously. He bantered at his mouth constantly at how he was going to be famous, sell his work and stuff like that, but again, I wondered why he couldn’t just do that in Jersey. Or at least, New York.

Gerard’s directing hand drop from the air slowly, a sigh filtering through his system. He still held a smile on his face, though shrouded with some weakness. I became worried I had touched upon a bad topic, but Gerard answered me before my thoughts could finish.

“Six months ago.”

“Wow,” I uttered, placing a hand over my mouth when I realized what I had done. I didn’t mean for it to come out so shocked and in disbelief, but I couldn’t help it. That was a long time to go without selling a painting, without work or money. I knew he had been painting, practicing his art constantly on some nights I was with him. I wondered why no one had shown an interest. Charles seemed to be familiar with his work, even liking some of it. Gerard was a good painter – my favorite - but why didn’t anyone else see that? People thought my photos were good, why not Gerard’s art? I cringed as I realized that I had more money than Gerard in the past six months. I was barely eighteen. I looked over to the artist, my hands still on my mouth. He nodded, scoffing a bit and agreeing with my outburst.

“That’s so long….”

“I know,” was all he said, leaving us in a placid silence.

“What makes you think you can become famous in Paris?” I found myself asking slowly, not knowing if I wanted to hear his response. He didn’t answer right away, not because he was mad, but because he wasn’t really sure of the answer himself. He had not thought a lot of this through, I knew that. He was working on adrenaline and dreams, taking the beating as a sign that he just needed to go. There was no rhyme of reason to it.

Kind of like us, I deduced.

Gerard brought a hand to his mouth, staring straight ahead as he breathed a deep sigh. “Nothing.”

I swallowed hard, unsure of how to proceed in the dead silence again. Gerard was admitting something that I didn’t even want to know the answer to myself. It was possible he could fail in Paris, and just end up blowing all of his money.

“Everything,” he added suddenly, giving hope. He nodded his head, pleased with himself. It was a complete contradiction in terms, but I knew what he was saying. He could fail, but at least he would know his answer. He may end up coming back to Jersey, holes in his pockets and failure on his back, but there would be an answer in his brain and faith in his chest. He needed to try it, just to see if it could happen. You don’t dream without falling asleep; you have to close your eyes, dip into your subconscious, into that nothing to see if anything could happen. If it didn’t, you moved on. But if it did, it was fucking spectacular, a wheel of color and flashing lights that you wanted to hold onto forever.

Gerard took in another breath, drawing his eyes over to me. “What makes you think we can make it?”

I looked at him perplexed, wondering why he was bringing us and our status into the mix again. We had debated it so long and hard, gone over it so many times in my mind that I didn’t want to deal with it anymore, for the sheer sake of uncertainty. But the way he looked at me, made me think it was something more. And then it hit me, like a time loop bringing me back to a few seconds beforehand.

“Nothing,” I said, and I wasn’t lying. There was nothing going for us. He was leaving, I was staying and still growing, despite being ready. I had Jasmine and though I didn’t want to think about it, and I fought the urges a lot, there was a strong possibility of me and her getting together again. It may take years, or it may take days, but there was a chance. And there was no guarantee I would see Gerard ever again. I wanted to, but nothing was going for us. Even when we first started this relationship, there was nothing going for us. We knew from the very beginning that society was going to tear us apart, and here we were right then, so close to departure.

But we had still done it anyway. That was where everything came back in. We were everything to each other, because that was what we wanted, that was what we needed. We had no actual support for the relationship, but each other’s. And that was really all we ever needed. It was what kept us alive, what kept us learning, what kept us teaching. And more importantly, it was going to be what kept us together, even when he was miles away from me.

“Everything,” I spilled out my answer, having everything, all the shit we had done, all the memories we had together budding into one thing and exploding before our very eyes. I hugged Gerard, more desperate than ever before. But this desperation varied. It wasn’t because he was leaving me soon, or because I may never see him again. It was love and love was a fucking desperate emotion. Most of the time, you didn’t want to feel it. Gerard didn’t want to feel it at first, and I hadn’t even let it enter my mind until Jasmine made it. It was an emotion so hated because it was so needed. You needed love; it made you desperate. But at least, this time, we wanted to be desperate with each other, for a long, long time.

Gerard met my hug, touching the base of my neck as our bare flesh connected again. We breathed heavily, shudders coming through our bodies once again, but no tears. These were shudders of hope, fear, and love tossed into one action. If it didn’t hurt as much as I loved it, I would have wanted to do it everyday.

“There will always be an epilogue for you, Frank,” Gerard whispered.

“Je t’aime,” I whispered back.

***

 

Our moods had peaked with the sun high in the sky, and the afternoon was our time to let ourselves go and just be with each other for the last time. We hugged and kissed and just talked like we used to, the shadows of doubt staying just that. It began to grow dark too soon, the sun setting behind the Jersey sky, wisps of pink and orange fading into a thick blackness; an eternal shadow. Our moods began to fall again, or at least mine, as I began to realize that it was already night. All we were supposed to do now was sleep, but all I could do was watch as Gerard yawned, a strong hand coming over his mouth. We had taken ourselves outside from the couch, the sunset peaking in the background and drawing Gerard’s attention. The man had always loved the rising and falling of the sun, the way the earth shifted at night. The colors were gorgeous and he confessed that he wished to bottle them for his own paints. We put on clothing, mere shreds just so we didn’t get cold and didn’t rouse too much attention. I put on my dove jacket over his art shirt, and I felt more at home than I ever had my entire life. Gerard put on his collared shirt, but didn’t bother buttoning it up. He held the door open for me as I walked onto the small porch, making my way to one of the deck chairs. We sat there in silence, a cigarette being passed between us. My lungs were too stretched from crying and dry heaving to take too many puffs. Instead I watched Gerard as he watched the sky change, the welts on his chest soon beginning to match the hue against the sky. I shuddered, but it wasn’t from the cold.

Gerard dragged the deck chair over to him more, the darkened night upon us for a shadow to hide in. He had held my hand at first, when there was still enough light to see the mischief in his eyes. Now we did more than just linking our fingers, the night giving us a sense of security we needed. His fingers roamed down to my legs, clothed in my boxers only. They were long, so they almost looked like shorts, and since we were up high I figured no one could tell. Gerard had been force to wear his pants for lack of anything else to hide his shame. I was beginning to think the man didn’t even own underwear. His pants were always so tight to begin with he probably wouldn’t have been able to fit the fabric underneath them. He took this time on the balcony to enjoy my own undergarments, his fingers tracing lighting over the cotton. I leaned my head against his clothed shoulder, both of our eyes focused off into the distance. He pressed his hand into me more, his warm palm inflaming my legs and making me squirm under his touch. I turned my head into his neck, and began to kiss softly, his mouth still too preoccupied with the stick in between his fingers.

I was glad it was night, because I knew I wouldn’t have stopped my actions even if it had been broad fucking daylight and a bus filled with camera wielding tourists was passing by. I just needed to touch him right then, and he shared the same urge. There was an orange iridescent glow from the liquor store light cascading over Gerard’s face and making him look even more alluring. The flare of the embers on his cigarette danced against the manufactured light. Eventually, after finishing two cigarettes in a row (probably smoking to fill his stomach up with smoke to subside the emotions), he turned his face into mine and I tasted the tar on his lips. He pushed his hand fully into my boxers, light artist fingers skipping like fireflies and butterflies all at once against my inner thigh. He rubbed his hand over my cock a few times, making me writhe in my seat from the anticipation, but spent little time there. I was hard and I hurt, but I was glad he had by-passed me once again. It was getting easier to control myself, but it was time like these, when my lips were crashing against his, my hand was on his bruised side, and his hand up my boxers, when I couldn’t control myself. Control was overrated anyway.

“I think we should go inside,” Gerard suggested, moving from my lips to my ear, biting on the lobe a little.

“Why?” I breathed hard, still excited and invigorated from all that was around us. Maybe there was something in the air up here so high, but it made me ravenous. I continued to kiss Gerard, moving to his neck, pushing my hands to the small of his back, hearing the scrape of the deck chair as I moved our bodies closer. Gerard tried to deter me inside once again, but I still saw no reason for it. Our positions hadn’t changed too much, and if they had, they certainly weren’t that life threatening. It was dark, we were hiding and it was our last night together. I didn’t want to move.

“Frank,” Gerard called into my ear, his breath hard and labored. I knew he was feeling the same way as I was, but he was trying to stop. His hand was removed from my boxers and located to my shoulder were he gently pushed me back.

I stayed right where I was. Or at least tried too, jutting my lips forward so I could still kiss his neck.

“Frank, this is too dangerous,” he spoke again, the cigarette smoke still clinging to his opened shirt. He had always been able to hold danger in his hands before, between two fingers and breathe it in and out. I wondered why he was so scared now.

I removed my lips, and looked at him, but kept my hand right where it was supposed to be: on him.

“This isn’t safe right now,” he stated again, when I gave him a skeptical look. His bangs were over his eyes, clouding the doubt that formed inside them. “This isn’t smart.”

“But this is normal,” I argued back. I shook my head at him, squinting my eyes, trying to see the finer detail in the situation. Why was Gerard being so afraid now? We had nothing to lose, we had to take it all, danger or not. We needed everything right then. Why was he being so skeptical. As I looked, he turned away, a sadness plaguing him.

“This has never been normal,” he stated. He took a deep breath, no longer trying to move away the hand I had on his side, rubbing his flesh softly. He took in another deep breath, watching the Jersey skyline. It was dark. He didn’t have to worry.

“But it’s the sheer absurdity that I love about us.” He smiled in spite of himself, glancing back over to me.

“Why can’t we pretend we’re normal just for tonight, Gerard?”

This was about more than just sitting outside and kissing. All we had done that day was talk about how we were special, how we were unique – a dove and a keeper, ready to fly away. When would we have the chance to not see everything through a metaphor? To just kiss to kiss, and not to seal way pain, or teach someone how to speak French? We were running out of time, and for once, we needed to just be normal.

Gerard took some time formulating his response, looking me up and down, before he finally said something beyond his usual plea for insanity. “What does normal mean to you, Frank?”

I smiled, knowing that no matter how much this idea of blending in hurt him, it was what we needed at that moment. We didn’t need to be special, especially to the outside world. They would never appreciate our glow. It would shine on after we left anyway, we needed to just be us that night.

“It means being Gerard,” I answered, adding a quick, “and Frank.”

He smiled, liking the way our names flowed together. “And what do these Gerard and Frank characters do with each other?” He was loosening up I could tell, as he slid his hand on my knee this time, letting the gap in his palm swallow the cap.

“We do what couples do,” I started, thinking hard and drawing through my mind. I had never been in a relationship before, so I didn’t know what exactly was normal, aside from what I saw on TV. The only thing I could invent from there was dinner and a movie, first date jitters, and guys giving flowers and chocolates. Since we were both guys, I wasn’t sure who would be giving and receiving the gifts, and besides, we weren’t hungry for chocolate, or food of any kind. That excluded the dinner aspect, and we didn’t have jitters. Not anymore at least. So it only left one possible outcome.

“They watch movies,” I answered, a smile forming on my face. I liked the way it sounded, the idea of Gerard and me, curled up on his putrid orange couch, maybe naked, maybe not, a blanket over us and his arms around me, just watching some mindless TV. I looked back into his apartment, already seeing the scene in my mind. But then, my eyes brushed over a slight problem.

“Your TV…” I uttered, my head dropping with my hopes. Gerard had told me on one of the first times I went to his house how much he hated the infernal box. He told me it had taken too many years of his life away, and he only kept it to remind him of that fact. It didn’t work. It was broken, and so were my hopes.

“Don’t worry,” he stated, taking a hand to my cheek, tipping my face to meet him. “We can still watch movies on it.” He smiled, his eyes revealing a devilish grin.

“But…?”

“The cable doesn’t work,” he clarified, tipping his head to the side and confessing another fact. “But I didn’t want you to think I spent my time watching movies. And I certainly didn’t want to have the damn box on when you were over.” He smiled at me, making himself look innocent. “How was I supposed to get to know you then?”

I leaned forward, pecking his smile with my own, my hopes restoring to full throttle. “You already know me.”

“Exactly,” he stated, kissing me a little deeper. I felt his hand trace back to my inner thighs, teasing the entrance of the fabric. He pulled away from my lips, but not my body, whispering into my ear. “So we can watch movies all night if we want.”

And we did that exactly.

Gerard and I, after exchanging a few more hurried kisses, left the balcony and the Jersey skyline to go into another world of cinema. I stepped down from the raised area, walking into the apartment, suddenly realizing that Gerard was no longer at my side. Confused, I turned around and saw him at the bench, kneeled down in front of the structure. Another devious smile was spread out on his face. He removed the mustard yellow seat cushions, pushing them aside as he began to lift up the seat of the bench, revealing a storage area I never knew he had. I stood there in awe as he began to dig through it, pushing aside art projects, paint cans, and finally, bringing up copy after copy of movies. Apparently, Gerard watched a lot of them.

I let my mouth drop open for the longest time, not moving, watching him carry over the pile of VHS tapes to the TV. I just couldn’t believe that I had sat on that bench, kicked it, cleaned around it and never noticed that it was a storage space. I watched as Gerard turned on his TV – the one I thought had been just a pile of metal and florescent tubes since I had gotten there and just marveled at it all.

There was still so much I didn’t know about this man, and I felt my stomach jump and flip-flop once again, knowing that I was running out of time to find it all.

Gerard looked over at me after he had put the first movie in and was fast forwarding through the previous. He cocked his head to the side, letting out a low, “What’s wrong?”

I wanted to say ‘everything’ and ‘nothing’ like we had done before, but I didn’t say a word. I closed my mouth and shook my head, walking over to the couch were Gerard was sitting. I wasn’t going to let my plaguing thoughts ruin anything, I was going to fucking enjoy this. I kissed Gerard, bringing us both deeper into the couch. He still held the remote in his hand, creating a weird scenario in my mind. I was so used to him holding a paint brush, a wine bottle or me, the technology seemed ugly. It was ugly, but there was some beauty in everything. The movie began to play, Gerard put down the horrid black rectangle, and crawled into the couch next to me, wrapping me in his arms like I had dreamed.

The only challenge was not to fall asleep. I still had no clue what time it was, but the apartment was cloaked in darkness, Gerard not wanting to turn on any lights for our movie. It was just the dull glow of the TV set keeping the room lit up, and I felt my eyes drooping as we progressed further and further. My alertness was temporarily restored as I realized we were watching Star Wars - Gerard’s all time favourite movie. He had told me so long ago, when we talked about Vivian and her daughter and his dead lover Ray, but I had totally forgotten about it until now.

“Why do you like this movie?” I asked, once the trademark theme music had died down and the stars were crashing across the screen like they had moments ago out on the balcony.

“It broke boundaries; it was something new,” Gerard stated nodding his head. He was pressed into the back of the couch, his long body spread down it with me in front. His arm was around my waist, pulling me closer. I had shed the dove jacket and it now rested on the floor by the couch, the colors on the screen dancing across its stitched fabric. Gerard had been working on undoing each of the small buttons that ran down my shirt, his hand already pressing inside my body, keeping me warm and secure. His head was on my shoulder, assuring us both good viewing spots. I nodded to his answer, vaguely recalling it from the previous one he had given.

“I like movies like this,” he said, his voice taking on the story-telling quality that made me pay attention. And despite the flashing lights, space ships and loud volume in front of me, I was focused on him. “They take you to another world, away from your life to a place you can live in for awhile, if only for a few hours.” He placed a kiss on my shoulder, and I still felt its welcome sting through the fabric. “I like going away sometimes, to a different world. Different place in time.”

I got a heavy knowing feeling in the pit of my chest. The night we had had sex, we made a world together. Another world, different from the one both of us had engaged in previously. One where we could take all we needed without regrets or remorse, no matter how much it was thrust upon us from the other side. A world where love ruled and art was a religion that we consumed everyday. And though Gerard was leaving in the morning, leaving the world we had created together, we were able to freeze it in time. We were going to come back to it, whenever we had the chance, taking the rules we had formed, the values and morals we had made with us until then. That was the thing about these alternate universes created; the person doing the making always had control. They could do what they wanted, and pick up again, right where they left off. Inside a small apartment, or next to The Eiffel Tower.

I leaned into Gerard, pressing my lips to his. He took me readily, remembering the word we had created, and trying to go back inside while another one danced in front of our faces, casting shadows of bright lights, while we forgot about the real one we were forced to live in. I focused on his tongue, and his removal of the rest of my shirt. His hand went to my boxers, fingering the waistband and rolling it off my hips slowly, touching my cock gingerly like we had on the balcony. His shirt and pants were removed in no time as well, and our bodies shifted and blended together, as our breath came from our mouths in quick short bursts. My back was pressed into the soft, well worn into cushions of the couch, Gerard hovering overtop of me, his hard cock pressing against my thigh. We stayed like this, naked and on top of each other, going through the motions and close feelings of sex before we finally gave into the act. We had spent all day together, touching and being so close, that it was just time we finally got it over with.

I focused on what was happening right then and there, instead of worrying what was going to happen after. We pressed our foreheads together, nodding and breathing that it was okay this was going to happen again. We weren’t going to make a big deal out of it. Gerard let me suck on his fingers a bit before he slid them into me, struggling and cringing only a little because of the soft base of the couch. He entered me slowly, and though it hurt more than usual, it was well needed. My legs were shrugged over his shoulders to help him ease in. He kissed and nipped at my lips once he was all the way inside and opened his mouth to devour me and my sharp breaths. He started to move in and out slowly, switching hands that propped him up to he could either stroke my hair with the other one, or start to jack me off slowly. I let him touch me, wanting him to make me come this way, instead of flipping him over after he was done, and repeating the actions from his bedroom earlier. I wanted him to fuck me and only me because that was how we had started it all. And besides, he had a hard time getting it up sometimes; I was going to take advantage of a time where I could have him inside of me.

I gripped his shoulders as he hit my prostate, a strangled yelp forming at the base of my throat. He paused and repositioned himself, his arms probably burning from the amount of pressure he had to apply to keep us both in the same position. He was willing to do it however, my moans as he hit me there again and again acting as more than enough encouragement. I could feel his heart beating and his quick and sharp breaths as he pressed into me more, going inside me deeper and finally coming. I could feel him expand and dispel, his head resting on my chest after placing a jagged kiss against my mouth, spent. He still gripped my cock gingerly at first, pumping me as he regained his strength. He pulled out of me a little so he could kiss and slid his tongue over my slit as well. It was moments after that I came in between both our chests, his name on my lips.

We laid together for awhile, our breathing returning to normal, the sound of space invasions in the background. Gerard pulled out completely and grabbed the blanket we had wrapped ourselves in earlier that day. He scooped me up as he held the sheet open, and wrapped us both up loving inside a warm cocoon as we turned to face the TV’s aura.

There was no repeat of the crying we had done before. We just put ourselves into another world, weightless tingles cascading through our bodies, feeling like the light sabers on the screen.

I had only seen Star Wars maybe once or twice before, during a rainy day in school where the teachers were too lazy to plan something and they couldn’t let us go outside for recess. Back then, I hadn’t paid much attention to it, not really finding much appealing in a seven foot tall hairy beast and a robot that looked like an Oscar statue had come to life. The names were weird, so were the people, but right at that moment, nothing could have made more sense.

“I used to have a crush on Princess Leia,” I joked, my breathing back to normal. There had been one thing I liked and remembered vividly about the Star Wars movies. The vixen’s sudden presence on the screen had reminded of me her appeal. I remembered focusing on her and the cinnamon buns it looked as if she had glued to her head all during the movie, while Sam kept trying to imitate Chewbacca’s laugh.

“I used to have a crush on Luke Skywalker,” Gerard joked back, laughing a little against my stomach. He was still on top of me, a little lower down, his elbows folded and at my sides, near my waist. I looked over at him, judging to see if he was serious. He winked and nodded, and I felt a wave of bittersweet happiness flood me.

“Meant to be,” I stated, trying to make it come off as a joke, but only having it resonate the serious qualities we both knew it possessed. Gerard’s smile never faltered at the remark, but his eyes changed, clicking into realization. He lowered his head, meeting our lips, but not spending too much time in this make out session. The movie had only just begun, and we had already had sex within the first fifteen minutes. The first was nearly halfway done now, and we still had a long night ahead of us.

The Dove Keeper [53v]
The Dove Keeper
Chapter 53v

 

I wanted to stay awake for all of it. I needed to stay awake for all of it. There was no way I wanted to miss a single second of Gerard, even if it was just his light breathing and his head on my chest as we focused in on Hans Solo driving a space craft. It didn’t matter what we were doing as long as I was conscious and with him. I couldn’t just sleep. It was a waste of time, like he always said. Time was something we didn’t have to waste, not then, not ever. He told me he hadn’t wanted me to come to the airport with him, which meant I had to get my goodbyes and all the things I needed to do in this night. I strained my mind to think of something to say though, but really, we had already said our goodbyes, many times already. We cleared up all that needed to be. I knew he was going to miss me, I knew he loved me. I would try to get to him, but if I didn’t, somehow things would work out. They did anyway. Things seemed to always work out with Gerard, in a weird, sometimes masochistic way. We both hadn’t known much on the art of teaching, and yet, somehow we had both prepared the other enough to leave. There was nothing else to say, nothing else to do.

So I just watched the movie, my hands on Gerard’s back, and then his hair, stroking it softly like he always had to me. I was worried at first that the action would make him fall asleep, but I found it to be me whose eyes were heavier than my chest had felt all day. I had barely gotten enough sleep the night before, and I had tired myself out in way too many ways. I had practically run and marathon to get to Gerard’s place, had sex with him twice, and cried out all the liquids I had. Crying always made me feel tired. It had been so long since I had done the action, but memories of being three-years-old, throwing a temper tantrum and spilling forth tears like rain water came back to me. After that, my eyes would always have this particular sting to them, only fixed by closing them, and drifting off to sleep while the body recuperated. The feeling began to overcome me, and though I wanted to stay awake, I slipped off many times. Usually Gerard getting up to change the movie to the successive cassette in the Star Wars series would rouse me, but eventually, not even his faint calling of my name could move me. I was out cold, whether I liked it or not. It was only his strong hands under me, wrapping me in the blanket and then picking me up that finally got my attention. Even then, I still didn’t know what was going on. I just felt myself being lifted from the couch, being thrown high into the air.

I’m flying, I thought to myself, my musings still half sleep-induced. I must have been really ready. I was flying away and though the thought had been scary before, I felt a calm air wash over me. This wasn’t so bad.

I was brought back into reality a little when I was placed down on another soft surface. I made a guttural noise in my throat, trying to open my half-lidded eyes. I saw a dark figure above me, and though I was still sleep-stupid, I knew it was Gerard. I reached my arm up to him, but only got it tangled in the sheet I was wrapped in. It took me a long time to comprehend that he had wrapped me up like a baby and had carried me to bed like one too.

“Shhhh,” he cooed, petting the side of my face. My arm was free now, and I lifted it up to touch his face, trying to pull him down to me. He stayed where he was, his mouth moving so fast, but the words coming into my brain at a slowed pace. “It’s okay, Frank. Go to sleep.”

“I don’t want to,” I whined, groaning as I crushed my eyes closed in a feigned attempt to wake up. Gerard laughed a bit, still touching the side of my face. He placed his palm on my forehead, brushing my hair back a few times, combing it like I was his doll. He was taking care of me again, putting me and my sleeping urges before himself. I knew he had wanted me to stay up all night with him. He didn’t care about his sleep that night either; he could sleep on the way to Paris. It was a long flight, he had told me. It would have given him something to do. But at that moment, as he looked down at me, my night vision slowly activating, he looked to be the most awake I had seen him in ages. And considering that sleep almost never clung to his eyes, that was saying something.

“I don’t want you to either,” Gerard stated honestly, confirming my thoughts. I could have been dazed, but I swore I heard a happiness in his voice. I didn’t really understand for what or about what, but I didn’t have time to think. Gerard started talking again. “It’s okay if you sleep though, Frank. I don’t mind, but I’ll probably still be awake.”

“No,” I argued, pouting more than a three-year-old child. “Sleep is a waste of time.”

Gerard laughed, or at least I was sure he did. My eyelids were attacking me again.

“Not when you’re in the bed with me, Frank.” He pressed his lips over top of mine, surprising me. I kissed back, knowing it was going to keep me awake. Gerard wrapped his arms around my body, pulling his face into my neck as we both were position at the top of the bed, how we used to always sleep together. I felt a slight draft for a second, then I realized he had opened the sheet he wrapped me in, sliding his own body inside. I was instantly warmer, but all of the actions did nothing to keep me less tired. They only made me more relaxed.

“This is the last time, for a long time, at least, that I’ll be able to sleep with you,” Gerard whispered into my neck. His voice quaked at the end, his fingers dancing lightly over my body. If I had been more awake, his words would have hit me harder, and I would have argued them more. But instead I let my mouth fall open, anything coming out.

“There’s still so much I don’t know about you…”

“Shhh,” Gerard pressed again, his fingers to my lips this time. “You’ll find them out eventually.” He removed his hand, satisfied that I was done, pushing his forehead against my cheek, nuzzling me. “There’s nothing left to be said, anyway. We’ve said it all.”

Though I agreed with his words, as much as I could being semi-conscious, I knew that talking was the only thing that was going to keep me awake. Even if it sounded like complete and utter bullshit, I would be okay. Gerard liked bullshit, and imperfections. It was why he had kept me around, I thought, lip quivering.

“What’s you favorite color?” I asked, spitting out the first thing that came to my mind.

“Hmmm?”

“What’s your favorite color?” I asked again, a bit stronger. It was such a generic and small question, but when I repeated it again for him, I realized what a huge significance it had had on us. Gerard was an artist; he lived through his colors, through his art, and how they blended together. He needed to use colors to interpret life, and he had used color to start my own.

“I don’t have a favorite,” he informed me, nuzzling my neck and the question away, at least for him.

“No, seriously,” I probed deeper. “I know you don’t have favorite of anything, but just pick one.” I paused, trying to convey my seriousness. I may have been still exhausted, but he couldn’t just shove me aside, avoiding the answer. Everything had some beauty that not everyone could understand.

Please.”

“I’m colorblind,” he breathed. At first, I thought it was just my sleep-clouded mind playing tricks on me, making me think I had heard what I did, but then he repeated. “I don’t see colors.”

“What do you see then?” I asked him, feeling my eyebrows furrow against my will. I thought Gerard had been serious for a moment, that he really couldn’t see colors, but the way he talked – just like the way he always was – conveyed a much stronger and more philosophical meaning. I prayed I could understand through my own lethargy.

“I don’t see color,” he repeated. He propped himself up with his elbow, hand still slinked around my waist, his head adjacent to my own, looking down. He brushed my hair away from my eyes, waking me up a little before he went on. “I see emotions and people, rather than the color that represents them. If I see red, I see passion. Or, depending on the situation, I may see anger.” He paused, trying to think of more examples, throwing in one about green meaning growth or greed, but I had not heard the color that had started it all yet.

“What do you see when you see blue?” I queried, my eyes closed but mind alert.

“Ah,” he breathed, the smile oozing into his voice. “I see you.” He touched the side of my face, running his hand around the oval shape, ending it at my chin. “I see new beginnings, hopes…dreams.”

There was a lull in our conversation, my indolence state coming back to haunt me, in violent shades of the colors Gerard refused to see. It wasn’t that he couldn’t see them – he knew blue from red, green from purple – he just chose not to see them as their only purpose. He knew that in real life, with real paint, colors blended. They weren’t the harsh titles and hues that people outside the art world gave them. Colors, just like people and emotions, blended. They were immeasurable, just like love. When he had thrown down the blue paint on Travis, Sam and I, he had not been throwing paint. He was throwing the exact things he was talking about. He had known exactly what he was doing.

“It’s what’s allowed me to be with you,” his voice suddenly cut through my thoughts, making me jump a bit. I had fallen asleep for a second, and now I had missed something crucial.

“What?” I almost gasped, worried I was missing something I couldn’t get back.

“Not seeing color was what allowed me to be with you,” he explained slowly, touching my face delicately with his artistic hands. “I had to make you into your own shade, your own hues of emotions and characteristics in order for this all to happen. I couldn’t have you be Frank the seventeen year old jailbait, but something better. Something more vivid. Something blue.”

I smiled hearing everything, probably losing some greater meaning with my eyes shut. It was the only way I could watch the colors he told me about dance before my eyes. In the split second I had fallen asleep, I thought I had seen a rainbow.

“Hey,” I called, forgetting that Gerard was right above me, still paying wide-eyed attention. I looked up at him and he smiled, giving me the go-ahead. “What color do you see when you look at us? What emotion are we?”

He smiled again, letting out a small breath of grateful laughter. He had been waiting for this question, I could tell.

“We are everything,” he stated the fact I already knew, making me easily comprehend. But as he went on, everything became as blurry as white light, cascading through a prism. “We are a mix. A canvas. A painting in and of itself. We are all the colors anyone has ever made and the ones they are still inventing. We are even shades of light and dark, mixed in with some gray. We are the shadows we hide in. We are the gray area that everyone has been afraid of. We are everything, Frank. Emotions and colors included.” He exhaled, the sheer beauty of it all getting to him. “And when I look at the two of us, I know it’s the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen. Your photos may have been in black and white, but I saw every single color imaginable in every single one.”

He had been talking with the hand that had been on my waist, fanning out his fingers and making them dance against the painting he was making with all of our bottled emotions and colors. I watched it, and I could swear I saw it unfolding before my very eyes; our story, our painting, our secrets, and our desires all in one. And


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