He smiles, tiny and tender. His insides quiver at the words of the man that stands before him, and pours himself into every vein in his mind. The man tells my friend a joke; it wasn’t half bad, actually. They laugh. The air between them shrinks.
Laughter: an uncontrollable force that bursts open the chest and leaves the world fresh and brisk. Meeting someone new is electric–more so when their chest is broad and their eyes are dark. They laugh, tender and sweet.
My friend hands over a paper with etched numbers on it to this new, electric man and wraps it in a smile. Call me, okay?
Meeting someone new is electric.
There are many calls that consist of many jokes. Their laughing and talking lead to dates: coffee dates and lunch dates and dinner dates and whiskey dates, and each ending with tap kisses and looks; a seed is dug inside his chest.
The though of having him spend the night grows wild in my friend’s hips. He dreams about his bare skin, the dents his muscles make upon it when they sway. He dreams about his lips, the wet smile floating closer between laughs. He dreams of their shapes, setting on each other under moonlight, blooming in heat.
Things grows wild deep inside his loins.
The knocks begin in December. Opening the door, my friend lets in his head, his shoulders, his panting, his steaming, his lovely exertion. He allows his breath to flood the curves of his ear as he floats into his embrace, pushing his spine into the spaces on his chest after each heavy sigh. Smooth, smooth, love is smooth, free. His lips hover over him, the red of his tongue peeking through his narrow smile as his fingers steal into his hips, and sets each joint just right.
Love is the weight on his back, swollen with desire, aching for release.
Inside. Smooth. A wave scuttling over a shore.
Love is the wet flesh they wrap each other in.
Love is the bed they taste each other in.
For weeks, everything is laughter.
The incident. Somebody came on too heavy, and everything is made ugly by the kisses on his lover’s neck. The flood behind his eyes swells as he slides into bed with him, the bitter taste of whiskey soaking through their words.
It’s nothing, relax.
You said you wouldn’t do this.
I said a lot of things.
Aren’t I the only one?
I never said you would be.
There were no more knocks after that.
Strangers and their limbs clamber onto my friend’s bed in the months that follow. None of them were him, but he settled. He is taken with a kiss, but these never go down smooth. As they gnaw his lips, the room ignites with sounds; belt buckles unbuckling, zippers unzipping. Cotton rips. Denim wilts.
(The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.)
A creature waiting on all fours in painful surrender, they hover over him, stabbing the bed with their knees, branding his back with their tongues. (A sudden blow). He moans.
The air shudders with each push as they dive into his tenderness. He’s trying to love someone again. Just once.
But it is difficult to know love in this room.
Faster and faster.
Round and round.
In and out.
Over and over again.
There is no getting off this ride.
(He was better off alone.)
He shakes his head, my friend, when those months surface in our talks. Wishing he could care less, and cry more, I remind him he is not the soul he was before. A smile bleeds through the wash of his tears, the same that always flow when we talk about love.
That’s true, he laughs. But, I liked who I was.
I ash my cigarette, coughing out a laugh.
Smiling into the cold kitchen mirror, my head shakes from side to side.
We’re never gonna learn, are we?