I wrote this over a year ago, and just revised it today. I was really, really thrilled with it a year ago, and now my love for it has waned a little. I think the metaphors are a little bewildering and a little muddled. But there are things I still like about it, so here it is.
This is an erotic story about two men. Nothing explicit, but not exactly tame either.
Here we are, and who are you?
I saw you from across the room, like they do in movies, only the room didn’t stop, I had to excuse myself from the one-sided conversation with the heiress who’d held me captive with her senseless rambling drivel, I fear I was quite rude you know, only now does that occur to me, and what a time to realize. Too late now, too late then as I made my silent way across the room, leaving my half-finished drink on the tray of a passing waiter for fear that I would need both my hands free, and I wonder at the back of my mind just when it is you first noticed me. I’d never seen you before, I could never forget a face like yours, nor the curve of your back, nor the sharp cut of your jaw touched with yesterday’s five o’clock shadow, and perhaps you’re a guest or perhaps you’re one of the many uninvited who drop in with the almighty influence of affluence, but I don’t care about that, not right now. Champagne always hits me fast and I’ve had three and a half glasses full and nothing to eat since two o’clock this afternoon, and has anyone told you that the darkness of your hair and your eyes gives you this unnatural severity, I felt like I was being looked dead in the face by the entire month of October, only that isn’t right, I don’t know what I’m saying. You’re a November if you’re anything.
And here we are in this elevator, this elevator tainted with sordid three-minute affairs, people just like you and me except I am sure that you are not like them at all; that might be a shallow observation but as my hands grip the rail that digs inconveniently into me and my neck stretches up until my head hits the perversely mirrored wall I find myself unable to care, unable to think. Your lips are perfect, has anyone ever told you?
I don’t know what it was about you, perhaps I shall never know, perhaps this is one of those instances of which we shall never speak, perhaps, even, we shall not see each other again. I know that as I approached you the room seemed to vanish even though it didn’t, and I know you felt it too as you gave me your little smile, the upturned edges of those lips I wanted all over my body, I barely said two words to you, something vague and floundering like “I wonder if I might—” and how is it that you knew so perfectly exactly what I meant, that you should take me subtly by the wrist and lead me away from that mundane reality, that you should be such a grand escape artist in your own perfect right.
We made it as far as this elevator and I whispered “I can’t remember what floor I’m on and I don’t know that I can wait,” and you told me not to worry, chose a number that was a long ways off, dropped to your knees and deftly took me with you. Here we are, my fingers in your hair gently pressing you closer. You accept my impatience with absolute calm, and perhaps you are even smiling as you shatter my tightly knit resolve; this I cannot know.
Why have I broken every rule to do this now, here, with you, you whom I have never seen but who destroyed me utterly in that instant from across the room?
Who are you?
The bell shoots me straight through the heart as the doors open, and like nothing’s happened you’re up and resetting my clothes like you do it every day, and you take me around the waist and guide me out into the elegant spread of a hallway, to hell with whoever might be there, might be watching us, I can see only your shoes and this hideous carpet, the quick punches of your feet against these flattened colors which mock your whole autumnal nature, muddied and dulled with time and the feet of a thousand people just like us.
Not like us.
Men like me are a dime a dozen and I am sure there are a million of them. I am no one, but there is no one like you, no one on this earth, I become convinced of this as I struggle to lift my head and study the sliver of your face which is so fixed on the door to which you have us careening, and I wonder just how drunk I am.
The door is opened and closed again with us on the other side, and you hold me there against it and this time you are not quick, you are not efficient, your mouth wanders lazily up the path of my throat seeking out something intangible like a moan or a sigh, and I will give you all of it, only do not stop. Your hands tighten around my arms and it’s as though you know me, know my every unspoken desire, the fluttering secrets that beat within the folds of my heart. Your hands slip down to my wrists, dragging my arms down behind me, pulling me back into a small arc, gaining purchase at the base of my throat. I am gasping, defenseless. November I am yours.
How is it that I am here on this bed, with this sunlight playing against your features? How is it that I can remember every inexpressible detail of the night without being able to linger on a single one, like a dream that is impossible to explain even as you grasp and try to hold it still. I am hung-over and for several seconds it is the happiest hangover of my life.
“And you would be?” I say, drifting, lost at sea in these twisted bed sheets.
You smile and your fingers brush along my face. Are your hair and your eyes as dark as I remember them, or am I dreaming still?
“You’re not what I expected,” you say, and the wide-awake depth of your voice does not disappoint me, how could it, when it is so different here in the morning light and yet it is unavoidably the same voice that told me so gently to be quiet, to keep still, to give in, to love you for exactly one hour and thirty-three minutes.
I turn and stretch, working my body in and out of half-remembered positions. “Am I not?” I say. “I suppose I’m happy to hear that.”
You tilt your head and look at me with a curious smile, a smile that I want to see for the rest of my life.
Oh, November, what fool gave you a day less for us to share? Thirty is not enough, my dear beautiful. Stay with me always, you who has such power within seconds, who commands my every bodily sensation from across a room crowded with the empty-headed and the illustrious. Oh stay with me, stay.
Your fingers curl around me and spread across my back, to show me that you’ve heard.
“Do you want to go?” you ask, I can’t imagine why.
“No, no, no,” I say quietly. “No, no, no, no, no.”
You smile again. “What do you want?”
I draw myself closer to you, because to answer is to become tiresome.
You press your lips into the hollow of my temple, and you ask it again. “What do you want?”
To know everything about you. To know nothing. I do not answer because I don’t know how. I fear that I have fallen in love with you, and the fading perceptions of last night, the fading champagne, the everything and the all of it fading into the dreadfully real sensations of the bed sheets and the light and the ache in my head and my stomach, it leaves me flustered and embarrassed at the idea of it, at having become so lost in a contestable emotion at the very first sight of you. I am a storybook character, a stereotype risen from a weakly versed poem, and here you are, real and perfect and smiling, and me with the great and terrible audacity at thinking I know a thing about you. How dare I? Who gave me permission to speak?
Oh November, enfold me once in your cold, dry embrace, the brown of the dead and dying cutting stark shapes against the too, too pale sky. November do not leave me to the afterimage of white that will cover and drown me for months to come, after which it will be too late. November, we have mere moments to speak and to finish, moments before I have lost you to the seasonal funeral, the end before the endless rebirth. November, keep.
You rise and I watch you as you move about this room, which is the same as mine, might as well be mine, ought to be mine. The wallpaper and the paintings and the furniture all the same, all the trappings identical, who is to say your room is not mine, or that I am not some small and inadequate reflection of you? I watch you, and I am convinced you are not as real as I am, you are not as brittle. You are an abstract and an idea, a metaphor I have created for that which I am lacking. No, no! What am I saying? To be so conceited as to think I could create something such as you—no, no. Come back, come back to me, these thoughts are tedious and this bed is cold without you in it.
“I have to work,” you say, dressing yourself, and I am overcome with the strange notion of watching a film strip in reverse as all the tattered bits and pieces that make up your external wrappings seem to fly unnaturally back into place, covering the slim perfection that is you.
“Don’t go,” I murmur from my prison amidst the remnants of our dirty work.
You look at me, I am taken by your shape, more solid than me, greater than me. The days are slipping by too fast for me to know what to do but I must keep you here.
“You really aren’t what I expected at all,” you say, hands frozen in their grim places, lifting your shirt back into its grotesque position as a barrier between my fingers and your skin.
“I try not to be what people expect,” I say. “I’m not sure what it was you were expecting.”
“Drunk rich boy,” you say with a brutal shrug. You smile the whole remark away. “Do you want me to stay?”
Answering you is the final admission. I cannot bring myself to speak without your prompts, and this is as close as I can get.
“Yes,” I say. It is a beautiful word, yes. No one knows that. James Joyce knows that. You know it.
There is a breath of hesitation, and I am suspended on wire, but you catch me before I fall. “All right,” you say. You right yourself, replacing unnecessary fabrics in their rightful tangled heaps, and you slide back in next to me.
People are frightened to make this surrender, to accept this fortune. People come in from the cold and drown themselves in artificial light and warmth, and the assurance that they have made the right choice. We know better, you and I. We will stay here as long as it takes for one of us to know what this means, and I still don’t know who you are. There isn’t much time. I want to speak, to ask you, tell you. Sometime we shall ruin it all and dash it against the rocks of questions and answers and our too-solid identities. Sometime before the thirtieth day I shall have to break this beloved silence. Soon, soon, soon.