Sean stood in the door frame and crossed his arms. He looked in and stared at the back of Ricky’s head, tried to open his mouth to speak but stopped himself before he said anything stupid. As he leaned against the old wooden door frame, it let out an audible creak.
Ricky turned around and Sean finally saw his fresh black eye. It wasn’t the first one he’d seen on him. Ricky paused for a second, looking at Sean’s tightened jaw and freshly crew-cut red hair on pale freckled skin.
The two young men just stared for a second, considering the first words of what would assuredly be a difficult conversation.
Ricky spoke first.
“What are you doing here?” Ricky turned his head so his black eye was no longer visible.
“I…” Sean paused.
“Yeah? Spit it out.” Ricky’s eyes started to dart across the room to find something, anything else to look at than the man in the doorway.
“I…I’m going to leave. I just wanted to let you know.”
Ricky forced a laugh. “Then go. No one is holding you here, Sean.” Ricky flicked his wrist to shoo away Sean as he said, “The door’s that way.”
Ricky turned away from Sean fully and pulled out a box from the shelf. He reached in and pulled out a joint.
Sean stood up straight. “No…I mean…”
Ricky sat down on his bed, lit up his joint and inhaled. “I know what you mean.”
Sean watched as Ricky took another hit and exhaled, the smoke gently wafting throughout the messy room, over the trash across the floor, the three drops of blood on the corner of the uncovered mattress, and the broken dresser drawer.
Ricky turned back around and stared Sean down. “The damn pamphlet was on your table when I visited yesterday, okay? I’m not a fucking idiot.” He turned back away from Sean. “I just didn’t think you were. So, goodbye.”
“Is that all?”
Ricky stood up and walked further into his room before turning around to look at Sean’s face, twisted in pain. “What else do you want me to say?” He tapped the joint so ash fell into a bare trash can.
Sean unfolded his arms and gestured swiftly towards the front door. “I’m going to ship off, okay? I’ll be working on a goddamn relay, you know? So, I’ll be far, far from the nearest planet, let alone a star.” Sean tried in vain to motion the whole concept, to express the implications of the isolation, but all he could do was struggle.
“I told you. I’m not a fucking idiot. I know what the hell a dragonfly is, and you’re stupid for going to work on one.” Ricky then mimicked no one in particular. “I’m going to send messages to assholes across the stars and never see another human face again. Uhhhnnn.”
Sean scoffed. “You’ll never see me again. Does that not matter to you?”
The joint hung limply in Ricky’s mouth as he looked Sean up and down, starting at his beat up and busted boots, his cuffed up jeans, his tight white shirt over muscles, and landing on his freckled face. The face that said he didn’t have to be alone, no matter what he heard, no matter what anyone else said, and Ricky used to believe those words. His eyes flickered to his hand. The hand that reached for Ricky’s at night. The hand that firmly gripped his own as they ran from his house laughing. The hand that pushed him up against the wall. And then his eyes flicked back to Sean’s lips. Those goddamn lips. Those lips that stole his breath before Ricky pushed him away, and those same lips he pulled back to his own.
And Ricky turned away.
Sean stared at him for a second, went to speak, and stopped himself. He clenched his fists, seeing that boy who…who goddammit, used to be such a shit to him, but one day, one day he saw something more in him. He saw something worth preserving in him. And now, Sean struggled to find it again, so he let his hands fall loose and simply said, “Fine.” Nothing more.
“You…you want me to say something…like…like ‘don’t go, stay, don’t leave.’ Like some kind of faggot?”
The two let the word hang in the air, Ricky refusing to look back.
Ricky turned back around and began to yell, “You want me to stop you, don’t you? You want me to say! To say! To say ‘I love you’ is that it? Well I’m fucking sorry to disappoint you but in case you haven’t noticed I’m not some fucking fag!”
Sean stood there, mouth agape, trying to form anything to say, but all he could muster was a weak, “Jesus Christ Ricky. Jesus Christ.” Sean took a step back and slammed the door shut.
For a few seconds there was the sound of determined footsteps and then another door slammed, but then there was just silence sitting in the apartment.
Ricky yelled. Ricky screamed. And then fell onto his bed holding his head in his hands.
He took the joint and tried his hardest to throw it across the room, to do something, anything, and it just fluttered down a foot away from him.
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