These Are My Choices
By Martin Clement
Unless otherwise noted, this story is Copyright 2006 by Martin Clement for Clement & Boule Associates. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, published, distributed, displayed, performed, copied or stored for public or private use in any information retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any mechanical, photographic or electronic process, including electronically or digitally on the Internet or World Wide Web, or over any network, or local area network, without written permission of the author. No part of this story may be modified or changed or exploited in any way used for derivative works, or offered for sale, or used to construct any kind of database or mirrored at any other location without the express written permission of the author. Thank you for respecting the intellectual property rights protected by the copyright laws of Canada, the United States and International Copyright Treaty.
This story is a work of fiction. All the events and characters depicted in this story are parts of the imagination of the author only. Any similarity to real people, living or dead, or any event that might have occurred in reality should be considered as purely coincidental.
I couldn't believe I had listened to Barry, my agent for the last two years, and found myself back there. I was dreading Montreal as much as I dreaded tarantulas. Of course, he didn't know about that. He was only my agent after all. Not my shrink. In business there are no friends they say. I believed in that. If you really want your whole privacy to disappear down the drain, there's nothing worse than spreading it to your work environment. As my work environment was the whole world, I kept everything to myself. Letting my surrounding know about anything private was dangerous. That was the reason I gave myself for staying single and keep people at bay. After everything that happened in the past, from that faithful night when I left Montreal to try and build myself a life, I had become what you could certainly call a misanthrope. Being in the spotlight and target of every fanatic didn't help much either. I remember hiring an old lady as a housekeeper who kept on trying to mother me, telling me how I should eat more at breakfast, how I shouldn't drink as much coffee and how I should go out since it was so sunny. Can you believe that she, an employee supposed to shut her mouth and work, actually was scolding me under my roof for swearing? She even threw a whole bottle of a very rare and very expensive cognac and two bottles of Bordeaux down the sink because I was not twenty-one. In Canada, when you are old enough to go to war, then you're old enough to drink. I was so mad I fired her immediately and retained her pay check that was less than sufficient to replace the wine, much less the two and a half thousand dollars Remy Martin Louis XIII I'd had so much trouble to get. I made sure to have good references on the next housekeeper's account and even actually called his last employers so I'd be certain that she would mind her own business. I truly didn't need another mother. And no mother of mine would boss me in my own house. Or anywhere else for that matter.
I'd told Barry that I was broken tired, which was not exactly a lie since the last six months had been quite exhausting on me.
"It's just for one day!" he had insisted on the phone two weeks before. I was in Glasgow at this time and about to leave for Paris where I was to attend the big release for the French version of my latest book which already was a bestseller almost everywhere. "Just one day and you'll be back to New York by the first flight in the morning."
"Couldn't you cancel?"
"Yeah right! And you would miss the opportunity of participating to the Book Show? Not likely! Did you forget that Montreal has been elected Worldwide Capital of Books this year? You can't miss that. People are counting on you to show up there."
"I'm exhausted. I just need to find myself back into my bed at home. It was supposed to be all over after I'm finished here in Europe."
"Colton, you owe me that one."
"I owe you nothing."
"Yeah right! You wouldn't be where you are without me."
"Barry... I know also that you wouldn't be where you are without me, so who owes who? We're even. No contact, no book. But no book no money. That's all a big circle."
"Right... Hey! You could visit your family while you're there. Could be a good way to relax!"
Relax... I hadn't stepped foot in the province of Quebec for the last two years. How was I supposed to relax there knowing that my mother kept conspiring with the enemy behind my back? How was I supposed to relax knowing that as soon as I'd step a foot inside of my parents' house, I'd be going through all of her rambling about my spirituality and my sexual preferences? How would I relax knowing that she would crowd me with the whole family and neighborhood so she could cackle about how she had encouraged me and taught me everything I knew? Making herself so proud of her own person for what she had done... Bunch of bullshit... I owed my style of writing to one of my teachers in college. As much as my mother knew I was trying to keep my private life private, she had shown the paparazzi my baby album once and told them some pretty embarrassing things about my childhood. She had done it behind my back. What a surprise it was for me while in Hong Kong to receive a phone call from my publisher telling me about it. These private things had found their place in all the tabloids of America. How angry at her do you think I was when I told her she almost made my editor break my contract? I was ready to come back and strangle her. I told her to burn the stupid pictures and to shut up or she'd receive a visit from my lawyer. I was mad. She never understood. When I was a teenager, I had problems keeping friends. My mother always made a point when meeting one of them to do the same thing, telling them embarrassing stories of me and showing my photo album. They all thought she was a freak for doing so. After these encounters, they made a point of staying as far away from me as they could and blabbed about me and my crazy mother. I never was looking foreword to see them anyway. In spite of showing herself off, turning every spotlight on herself, she had pushed my friends away and embarrassed me so much I'd felt belittled. When I accused her for doing so, she went into denial, saying that she hadn't done anything. I'd thought that it was pretty innocent at the time, that maybe it was me being childish, but now that it was endangering my career, I was fuming and told her so. She had tried the crying game. It didn't work with me anymore. I had changed. Oh! she did as told, or I guess she did, for she never put me back into that position with the medias ever again. After that though the paparazzi only wanted more. The worst of it was that my mother thought I was the one being unreasonable...
One day. That's all I was about to stay in this town that had become so hostile to me two years before. The crowd in the airport was as dense as the day I had left town in this hurry with a bump on my head, a black eye, a split lip and my life crumbling down. I felt nauseous. At least, I was to be there only for two nights. I'd wear this well known smile that kept on selling these millions of books all over the world and sign a couple of dozens of books then I'd be back to the coziness of my apartment on Fifth avenue sometime the next morning. Far away from the press, far away from the paparazzi and the fans, and far, far, far away from these emotions I was feeling in that city.
Colton Bryce I could read on the card a man dressed in black was holding. Jesus Christ! Couldn't he just up and write my name in bright yellow neon light or what? So much for wanting to be discreet, I guess. It's not that I'm much to see. Without my well known fake smile, I think nobody would remark me. But put my name over my head, I'm pretty sure nobody's as dense as not to make the mathematics. I shook my head in disbelief and grabbed my suitcase before I walked in his direction. The man finally saw me and gave me a smile. Bright and genuine.
"Hide that fuckin' card," I said as I passed him, hoping for nobody to make the connection.
His grin fell. I felt sorry for the guy. But if I wanted to reach the car in one piece, there was no way I could let him display my name for the whole crowded airport to see. Before I was seated in the limousine, I calmly explained the reason of my behavior. I didn't want to seem like the prima donna I was not... or maybe I was a little... The smile came back, as bright and genuine as it was before. I signed his copy of my first book that was still wrapped in plastic. Probably bought it just to be nice. He was so ecstatic he was beaming. It doesn't take much for groupies to fall for traps like that one. The guy probably would buy every single one of the derivate products just because I'd been nice to him. Damn groupies. Tell them to jump a bridge and they'll do it. Make them feel as you know them, that you care, and they'll raise you up to Saturn.
As much as I was tired, and as comfortable my room at the Ritz was, I didn't sleep well. I never do when I'm not in my bed at home. I hadn't slept well for the last six months. The week after my book Hidden Realities, my third novel, became a bestseller, I was shipped to the other side of the world by my publisher to promote it. Damn I hated promotion. I've never been good with marketing. But a book is a product and if you want to sell your product, you need to promote it. Jesus I hated that occidental business philosophy. When I started writing, I thought the job of being an intellectual was supposed to be just that. An intellectual. But as you can see, this stupid world of crazy fans never thought that way. They wanted to know me. They wanted to be me. In book signings, they even called me by my first name, as if they had known me their whole lives. I don't know how many times I had bitten my tongue over the last six months so I wouldn't scold them about the fact that we hadn't raised pigs in the same sue. Paparazzi were the worst. As much as they loved taking pictures of me alive, I would have bet my last shirt they would rather have flashed their cameras at my dead body smashed by a train. They probably would've set their own children on fire if it meant making more money by selling the pictures. They had killed Diana Spencer, they could do anything. Freaks. They sold an old eraser five hundred bucks on Internet pretending they had found it in my garbage can. The poor guy who spent that much money on that piece of junk probably hadn't listened to a word I had said in the hundreds of interviews I had given all over the world. I've always written with a computer. And my trash was put in the incinerator in the basement of our building before Wesley, my housekeeper, drove what hadn't burned directly to the dump.
The Book Show was okay. Well, as the name said it, it was just that. A show. The organizers sure knew how to use marketing to boost it. As every year, it was held in November, so the majority of the customers were mostly there to buy Christmas gifts. Others were fanatics trying to get an eyeful of some celebrities. Some people asked me if the book would be put on screen someday. Jesus! Couldn't they read at all? There was this huge line of people at my booth and I could see tables where some of my idols in the whole literature world were seated, waiting, no praying for a customer to stop in front of them. Yeah... marketing. I could just thank the marketing team for that since I had read some of the books I was seeing on their tables and trust me, they were far better than mine. Hurray for the occidental marketing and the stupid fanatics! I made a point to go and say my appreciation to them.
By the end of the day, I was so tired I wouldn't even raise my gaze from the table as I signed the books. My hand was a mass of pain and I could barely see what I was writing. It was all mechanic anyway. I kept on writing the same thing in each book and the customers all left with grins that were miles long thinking I had written something very personal to them.
"To whom?" I asked the person in front of me. A couple more and that day from hell would be over. I'd go back to the hotel, sink myself in a hot tub and try my best to sleep. I couldn't wait for tomorrow.
"Mark," the deep voice said.
I felt a pang hit me like a ton of bricks and my chest constricting. That name was the reason of my departure from Montreal two years before. I dreaded that name more than anything. Startled, I lifted my gaze from the book, and as soon as my eyes met his, I started shaking. He was smiling broadly at me, his deep brown eyes piercing through my soul and his unruly black hair shining under the neon light of the room. His shoulders were still as broad as I remembered. He was still as beautiful as that faithful day when he turned my life upside down.
They say you remember the first time you get drunk for the rest of your life. They never thought they were so true. I'm not sure they meant it to be the downfall that happened to me that night.
Mark and I had been friends for God knows how long. We probably seemed to be the worst mismatched set of friends at school since Mark was one of the most popular jocks and me, well, I was lucky enough to be his friend. It seemed natural when we both turned seventeen and finally were released from our families' houses that we would be sharing an apartment together in the city while attending college. We were very excited that first day alone at our own apartment. We were both seventeen and ready for life.
As a teenager, I used to have this enormous crush on Mark and thought it only was one of these phases people want you to believe exist so you don't have to deal with your emotions right away. I thought I would outgrow my feelings for him after living together for a couple of years so I could find a girlfriend, marry her and live happily ever after. But it was not meant to happen. As I was slowly coming to term with my sexuality, coming out of my shell and denial, I felt attracted more and more to Mark until that night of May.
A couple of days after we ended college, I received a letter from University of Montreal telling me I was accepted in Literary Studies and Mark decided that we needed to celebrate it.
Oh did we ever...
We went down to this nice bar I forgot the name close to our apartment. The beer was good. Stout. My favorite. Fresh and creamy. St. Ambroise, I think it was. So was the thirty years old Glennlivett. I'll remember this brand forever. Sometime over the night, I started feeling my inhibition leave me. When Mark came over to me and put his powerful arm around my shoulder to show me how proud he was of me, I instantly melted. The subtlety of his cologne mixed with the faint smell of sweat were so inviting... I circled his waist with both my arms and squeezed myself to him.
"I love you..." I breathed, my nose nestled in the crook of his neck. I could have fallen asleep right there in his arms. I felt him tense. I lifted my head so my eyes could find his. I probably had lust written all over my face.
"What did you just say?" he asked, looking all around him as though he was afraid we would be seen. Then his gaze met mine and I found the courage I had always lacked of.
I kissed him.
That was a mistake.
A mistake faith would never let me forget.
One minute I was in his arms, comfortably feeling the beat of Mark's heart through his shirt, and the other I was sprawled on the floor with my whole face a mass of pain. I tasted the blood oozing from the split my friend's fist had done to my upper lip, staining my once immaculate white shirt. My head hurt from hitting the floor. Mark had a look of horror covering his face. I sobered up right then.
People started gathering around me. It felt as if someone had turned a bright spotlight on me. A shiver went down my spine along with cold sweats. Wherever my eyes went to, somebody stood there. I felt like crying. But I wouldn't do it there. Not in front of anybody. Not ever. I tried to find Mark's face in the mass and when I found it, he was looking at the floor in front of him. He couldn't even look me in the eyes.
I surely knew it could happen. I had heard of horrible stories, of gay crimes that happened in the most bigoted towns in the United States and in the western provinces of Canada. I had heard of that stupid pastor Phelps and the way he made a point of showing up with his whole community of bigots to yell insanities at gay people's funerals. I had heard a lot about people finally maturing enough with their own desires, their sexuality, and in need to share who they were with the people they trusted and getting put down. Or beaten. Or killed. I knew it could happen even with Mark. I just wished we could've stayed friends. I wished that things could have stayed the way they used to be. I was the same guy I had been my whole life. I had just discovered that being gay didn't change who I was since it was a part of me. I had discovered that being gay only was a very small part of who I was. It seemed that Mark couldn't see things from my point of view. I had thought of telling him about my feelings for weeks. I had wanted to do that. Not because it was any of his business to know I was gay but because it could help me to finally feel free. Montreal was gay friendly enough to help me keep my hopes up. Seeing two men or women kissing in a bar outside the gay community was something common. They didn't even have to hide themselves in gay clubs anymore to do so. Gay couples were seen walking hand in hand inside colleges or on the street. It had helped me maturing and finally accepting who I was. My hopes had been crushed down. If only I hadn't kissed him...
I couldn't see clearly with the tears that were threatening to fall from my eyes. I didn't want him nor anybody else seeing how much his gesture had hurt me, so as quick as I could, I stood up and dashed out of the club. I heard some girl shouting my name but I never turned back.
I had never been one to make quick decisions. I had always been insecure way too much. But that night, when I entered the apartment, I'd had enough time to sober up completely and my decision was taken. I couldn't stay there. There was no doubt about it. I called a taxi, packed one of my suitcases in a record time and made my way out of the apartment and far away from the only man I once loved.
I could have found another place to live in Montreal hadn't it been for my shame. I was so ashamed of what I had done that I had two choices. Jumping off the Jacques Cartier bridge or leave the city and go as far away as I could from Mark. I chose the latter. Nobody packs a suitcase before committing suicide...
I took the first flight that was leaving and wasn't already full.
I found myself in New York. Luckily I had gone to Mexico on vacation with my family a few years back and my passport was still valid.
In the few days that followed I was delivered a visa, so I found a job as a waiter in a quite fancy restaurant and could afford a small but cozy apartment not too far away from Manhattan.
That's when I started to write and met Barry.
Barcelona, Rome, Milan...
They say depression is the best tool an artist can have. They say inspiration comes easier to whom has lived.
Berlin, Monaco, Bratislava...
Six months ago, we had celebrated my third best seller.
Tokyo, Hong-Kong, Sydney...
I remember as a child I always dreamed of traveling.
Vancouver, Rio, Los Angeles...
I never thought it could be so demanding.
London, Glasgow, Paris...
Had I known I'd have to face the past ever again, I never would have agreed on coming back to Montreal...
My heart kept on beating faster every minute Mark spent next to my booth. After my first shock of seeing him, I breathed deeply and smiled broadly, forbidding the tears that were threatening to fall from my eyes. I signed the book. Two simple words: Fuck You. No way was I going to acknowledge any kind of the crappy friendship I wrote in my fans' copies of my books. Even if the usual words were fake. Even if I couldn't stand the stalkers, they were far more welcomed to this table than Mark was.
I wished he wouldn't have stick around when I gave him back his book.
I was disappointed. He stayed around the table, asking questions to some representatives of Quebec-Amerique, the publisher responsible for the distribution in Quebec. I shook all through the rest of my work.
When the signing period was over, I thanked the personnel of the publisher and started walking to the exit when I felt a hand landing on my shoulder. I knew instantly to whom it belonged. I had felt this softness all through my childhood, my teenage and college years, how could two more years make me forget all of the warmth in it?
"Colton," Mark whispered.
I turned around so fast that it startled him a bit. I didn't need to brush his hand off me. The glare I sent him probably made him feel as though he had burned his hand.
"What the fuck do you want?" I hissed angrily.
"I..." he trailed. It probably was the first time I was witnessing the big Mark Hammond in a loss for words. "I wanted to tell you..."
"What? I demanded.
"Thank you, mister," I said, using that fake smile I had showed the fans the whole afternoon even though my mouth hurt like hell. "The next book should be released by the end of May next spring. Now if you'll excuse me, I was about to leave."
"I hope it didn't hurt too much!" I cheered him sarcastically.
"I thought we could talk," he whispered, ignoring my words.
"That's so sweet..." I said, finding my sarcasm very useful at the moment. "Let me think... No. Now leave me alone."
"If I remember correctly, our last conversation ended with me on the ground in front of all your fan club with a split lip and a black eye. Stay away from me."
"Please..." he was pleading now, using these puppy eyes that used to charm their way into me once upon a time.
I turned around and started walking but he grabbed me by the arm and spun me around. I could see some people were looking our way. I wondered what would appear in the junk rumor tabloids the day after.
"Let go of me! Now!" I commanded.
"Please, Colton... let me explain."
"It was pretty clear to me two years ago. Now let go of me. I need to go back to my hotel and get some rest. I have a plane to catch in the morning."
"Won't you go and see your family?" he asked.
"None of your business."
"Your mother misses you."
"None of your business. Now let go of me or I'll call the security."
"I miss you. Look... Colton, I'm sorry I hurt you," he said, letting go of his grip on my arm.
"Yeah, I know about that. My mother hasn't stopped telling me so. I'm sick about your fuckin' conspiracy, you and her."
"She wouldn't give me your phone number."
"At least she respected that part of the deal."
"Why wouldn't you go and visit her? Is it because of me?"
"As I can see, you still are as full of yourself as before."
"It is because of me," he stated.
"Look, there are a lot of things that bug me with my mother and yes, the fact that she might tell you I'd be visiting, no wait... the fact that she would make a point of telling you I'd be there and that she would corner me into seeing you is a part of my decision not to go there."
"She's just trying to help, Colton."
"No, she's not. She's being nosey and pushy. That's all. She's always been that way. She'll never change."
"I can't believe that you have become so insensitive."
"Jeez, Mark, what were you expecting? That I still would be the same stupid shy kid that used to follow you everywhere? I'm not your groupie anmore. Things have changed. So have I."
"But why being so cruel with your mother?"
"I'm not cruel, Mark. I'm realistic. I have come to term with who I am. I know who I am. I won't take any bullshit from anybody anymore. Not even from my mother. If she doesn't respect me, then I won't respect her."
"She respects you! She worships you."
"I never asked that from her. I already have stalkers for that. And they annoy me. A couple of months after I left, I told her on the phone that I was gay. She went into denial mode. Hell, everybody who've read any of the articles about me in the rumor magazines know since I've never answered their allegations. In this world, if you don't deny being gay, then that's what you are. But she's still insisting for me to show up to her and her friends with a girl. When I came to term with my spirituality last year, I told her I was agnostic. She's still fuckin' asking me if I went to church to find Jesus every time she calls. I've never gone to church before... The only reason why she does want me to show up in church is so I would be seen there, that some pictures of me on the church's ground would find a place in tabloids so she could keep up appearances with her friends. I've only wanted one thing in life. Respect. That's all. I only want respect. If people can't give me that much, then screw them!"
"Is that why you left?"
"You fuckin' shoved your fist in my face! If it's not disrespect enough..."
"Damn! You kissed me!" he shouted, attracting more attention to us.
"I'm sure that old lady back there with the hearing apparel didn't hear you," I said, turning around and walking through the doors. "At least, I'm not shoving my fist in your face!" I yelled over my shoulder.
"Colton! Wait!" he said, running around me, barring me the way to the limousine. "You kissed me, Colton." he whispered.
"Great! So you thought why shouldn't I break the faggot's face?"
"It's not like that."
"So how is it?"
"I was your friend."
"Yeah... was. That's the right term."
"And you kissed me."
"I think that's pretty evident, Mark. I kissed you and you punched me in the face. We both know the facts. You broke our friendship out of a stupid kiss. I'm sorry I kissed you. You can't even begin to imagine how sorry I am. There. Happy now?"
"But I didn't want to break it!"
"Too late. What's done cannot be changed."
"I came to tell you I was sorry that night but you had already left."
"Did you really think I would've stick around? Did you think I would've been patiently waiting for you to give me another go? You're sick, Mark!"
"I don't know what I was thinking. I knew you'd be suffering. I thought you'd still be there waiting for my apology."
"You know, Mark, that's not the split lip nor the bruise on my face nor the bump on the back of my head that hurt the most. You broke me emotionally that night. I told you my feelings for you and your answer came in the form of your fist in my face. I told you I loved you. I wanted to let you know who I was. I wanted to let you know my feelings for you that I had bottled up for so long. I know I shouldn't have been so foreword as to kiss you. That was a stupid mistake for me to do so. But I was drunk, Mark. I was drunk and I didn't really know how to express my feelings. I had wanted to tell you I was gay for weeks but couldn't find the words since I was in love with you and didn't want you to feel awkward around me. That night I drank and I felt comfortable around you. I didn't have clear ideas. You were there with your arm around me... your cologne was intoxicating me... it felt so..." A silent tear found its way on my cheek. " It felt so... right... I misunderstood your gesture. I misunderstood your body language that probably was not different at all from your regular self. For you I was a friend. For me you were my secret lover. I know I shouldn't have kissed you. I've felt ashamed for kissing you for months. I felt as if I was the only responsible for our friendship's abrupt ending. But you know what? While I was writing my first book, I finally realized I hadn't done anything wrong and I was not the one who broke our friendship. I know I shouldn't have kissed you. I take that much responsibility to myself. It was all my fault. It was my fault for being drunk and letting you know my feelings for you so physically and in front of everybody. But I don't take the responsibility of your fist in my face. Friends don't hit each other. Friends don't use their physical superiority against each other. Friends try to solve their arguments by talking. I kissed you. You could have told me not to do it again. But you chose to hit me. That's what broke our bond."
"So..." His voice cracked. "You hate me?"
"I can't say that you are my favorite person."
I walked around Mark and sat in the car.
"Where are we going?" The driver asked as soon as he was seated.
"The hotel," I barely had time to say before the door went opened and Mark sat down beside me. "Don't start driving yet," I told the driver. "What are you doing?" I asked Mark, annoyed. The driver closed the separation, giving us some privacy.
"Is it true?"
"What?" I asked, not knowing what he was talking about. His whole face looked as puzzled as mine must have looked.
"Is it true?" He sighed. "Did you really love me?"
"I'm tired, Mark."
"Who cares? It was so long ago..."
"But you did love me?"
"Mark... I'm leaving in the morning. I haven't eaten properly for the last twenty-four hours and I need to sleep."
"So you're hungry? I know this very fine restaurant on..." I interrupted him.
"I don't go to restaurants."
"Why is that? You used to love restaurants!"
"Things change, Mark."
"I know, you keep telling me that. I'd just like us to talk a bit. I want to show you how sorry I am for what happened."
"Why? So you can free yourself from your guilt?"
"No... so you know I agree with you on my behavior. Look..." He sighed, looking at the floor of the car. "I've been a jerk. You took me by surprise that night. I don't know what came upon me to hit you the way I did. You had been my friend all of my life and I couldn't understand where that was coming from. The kiss I mean. And you telling me you loved me. I was panicked. We were in that bar with all these people I knew and when you said you loved me, I was afraid everybody would turn their backs on me."
"So you rather keep up appearances than stand up for me? That's why you punched me? If I was the one who was humiliated then everybody would stand up for you?"
"It's not what I'm saying..." He sighed again.
"Then I'm at loss here, because it seems to me like the right reason. I did the unfixable by kissing you and risked your big fat reputation of being the big muscled bigoted jock you carried around with you."
"Colton... is it true that you loved me?"
"What would it change if it was true or not? It was years ago."
"So did you?"
"Yes, Mark!" I shouted. "I was in love with you! Happy now?"
"Now that it's said, will you leave me alone so I can go back to my life?"
"Please..." he said, his gaze trying to find mine. When my eyes met his, I felt them... the tears that I had always forbidden myself to show anybody.
"I knew it was a bad idea to come here," I whispered.
"I'm glad that you did."
"I should've gone back home."
"It's your home, Colton..."
"No. My home is in New York nowadays. I don't feel home here anymore."
"On what street do you live?"
"You know I won't answer that."
"No, of course not. You're a celebrity, now."
"What are you trying to imply in that?"
"Nothing. Do you eat in restaurants in New York?"
"No. I don't eat in restaurants at all. What does it have to do with me being a celebrity?"
"Nothing I guess since even celebrities go to eat in restaurants once in a while."
"Well I'm not like them."
"I can see."
"I don't like to eat there anymore. Is it a crime?"
"Not of what I've heard. But I don't think being alone all the time is the most sane thing to do."
"I've had a housekeeper who spoke her mind the way you do."
"Fired her. Some people like to be left alone."
"You didn't like to be alone before."
"As I told you, things change. Is it so hard to believe that?"
"Yes it is. Listening to you, it's almost as if you were gone for twenty years. It's only been two and a half years, Colton."
"A lot happened. I've lost my friend, I've realized who really was my mother, I've started writing, I've spent everyday working on my new life."
"Are you happy?"
"Mark, it's not about being happy. It's about business."
"Don't you have any fun?"
"I write. That's where I belong."
"But you're not happy."
"And you think I'd be happy here?" I asked, dumbfounded.
"It's not about where you live, Colton."
"So now you'll try and give me a piece of your moral? Go to hell with that!"
"I come back from hell. I don't want to go back there now that I've found you back."
"So it's not about me at all is it? You're not happy?"
"No, I'm not. Not since you walked out on me I'm not."
"We keep walking in circles, Mark. We used to be friends. We're not anymore."
"Don't you sometimes wish things were different?"
"What do you mean?"
"Don't you sometimes wish we'd still be friends?"
"Mark... we can't change the past. You hurt me. I don't want to be hurt again."
"So it's true what they say about you in those magazines, that you don't let anybody get close to you anymore."
"This is none of your business. If you want to trust these absurdities, then believe what you want to."
"Has it been anyone in your life?"
"What's your fuckin' point?"
"Have you met any special someone in the last two years?"
"Same reply. It is none of your business."
"So the answer is no then?"
"I didn't say that."
"So you've met someone, then?"
"I didn't say that either."
"Do you have any friends?"
"There is Barry."
"I meant friend, not professional support. I know you are not friend with him."
"How would you know?"
"I called him at his office last year. I wanted him to tell me where I could join you. He didn't know anything about me. He didn't even know if you really knew me at all. Had he been your friend, he would have actually known basic things about you. I tried to describe you so he would believe me. He didn't know you scratch your chin when you're thinking. He didn't know your favorite food is Indian. He didn't know you hate general sports but love to ski. He didn't know you love driving but can't stand being a passenger because it drives you crazy not being in control of the car. He didn't know you hate cats but love snakes. He didn't know anything about your past. He didn't even know where you were from in the province exactly. He didn't know the guy I once knew. And you're working together for almost two years now. Things change? Not that fast. Had he been your friend, he would have found a guy that was hurt in the beginning. But you always acted professionally with him. Never letting him close."
"What exactly do you want, Mark?"
"I want to make up to you. You lost everything because of me."
"What a loser I am! Poor me!" I said sarcastically. "I don't need your pity, Mark. I think I can make it by myself."
"I know you can, Colton."
"I'm not as helpless as you'd like me to be."
"I wouldn't like you to be helpless, Colton. I'm proud of what you have achieved. Not a lot of people could even entertain the hope of reaching your professional level. It has nothing to do with the way you handle things."
"Then what do you think you can do?"
"I don't really know. All I want is to be able to reach you again. I want to be there for you since I've not been able to do so since you left... since I acted like that stupid moron I was that night. I hadn't realized how precious our friendship was, I guess. I was taking you for granted. I know now that I can hurt you. I know I can be so stupid as to break something as important as friendship in a finger snap. You said you loved me that night. Do you still do?
"I'm sorry. I thought maybe you still did. What a fool I was! Of course you don't! I've ruined everything two years ago. Now you hate me."
"Mark... I don't know what I feel about you. You hurt me pretty badly. You pushed me away in the blink of an eye. What I witnessed that night broke my heart. Before today, I hadn't expected to see you ever again. My mother has been pushing me to call you even though I kept telling her that I would stop calling her if she didn't stop. I haven't called her back since I left New York for the promotion six months ago. She actually didn't help you in this since she just made me become more and more stubborn about it. I might have called you a little while after knowing that you wanted to apologize to me. But as she kept on pushing and pushing, I kept on backing away. I didn't want to give her reason. You know, she thinks she does everything right just because she's my mother. Just because she thinks that she's so much superior than me. You were the only friend she hadn't chased away from me. After what happened that night, after I had started a new life in New York, she kept on telling me how wrong I was since I didn't want to forgive you. She finally managed to break the only hope I had to go back to you."
"So... do you think we could be friends again?"
"I've changed, Mark. The guy you see today is not the one you used to know anymore. You have changed also. I don't really know you now."
"We've only been separated for two years, Colton. We've been friends for all our lives before. Doesn't it count at all? You were my friend. I was yours. I hurt you. Now I'd like to make up for what I did because I miss our friendship. Because I miss you."
"I don't want to be hurt."
"I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't do that on purpose, this time. But you will."
"As you said, we've been separated for two and a half years."
"And I told you I loved you the night I left."
"We've known each other for all our lives, Mark..."
"I know, Colton. That's what I said."
"I've been your friend for all this time."
"And I've been in love with you for as long as I can remember."
"What are you trying to say, Colton?"
"If we become friends again, I might fall in love again. And you'll hurt me inevitably."
"Inevitably? Are you sure about that?"
"Of course I'm sure!"
"I won't hurt you, Colton. Maybe that's you who will hurt me this time though."
"You didn't understand anything I just said, did you?"
"You were as clear as spring water."
"So tell me how I could hurt you?"
"You could hurt me if you didn't love me at all."
I couldn't believe I had listened to Barry, my agent for the last two years, and found myself back there. I used to be dreading Montreal as much as I dreaded tarantulas. But when Mark's lips found mine, I couldn't think about another place in the whole world where I'd want to be. Home is not only a geographic point but the place where the heart is.
Maturing doesn't take place in our lives at a specific time of our lives. As I was finding myself and accepting who I was, Mark still was at the beginning of this whole cycle of life. As I was feeling more comfortable with my own sexuality, Mark still was still beginning to juggle with his own emotions.
Home is where the heart is. We met half way. And I really mean half way. The year that followed, me and Mark found back our friendship and learned how to tame the love that rapidly found its way into our relationship. When he finished university, we bought a house in Vermont where inspiration could find its way into my writing without me having to live with the stress the fanatics reserve to celebrities. Promotion is not a problem anymore since Mark started working with me as my new manager. Hotel rooms and insomnia are not a problem anymore since I sleep with him every night. Anywhere in the world, might it be in Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Berlin, Monaco, Bratislava, Tokyo, Hong-Kong, Sydney, Vancouver, Rio, Los Angeles, London, Glasgow or Paris... home is where the heart belongs.
I remained in a sporadic contact with my mother, talking on the phone once in a while. I never let her find her way with me again. As we lived in an absolute divergence me and her, I knew nothing would bring us any closer.
Things change. People change.
Sometimes you have to chose between the tradition of loving your family unconditionally even though they keep on hurting you or accept the divergences, accept the fact that nothing can be taken for granted, and move on. You don't choose your family. You can choose your friends though. You can choose to act as a hypocrite and keeping the ones who hurt you in your life or let them go. It's all about choices. My mother didn't want to be my friend. She only wanted to be my mother even though I didn't need one anymore. I chose not to let her hurt me ever again. And I chose to risk being hurt by Mark.
There is a time in life when family changes of hands.
Mine is with Mark.
These are my choices...
Suicide never is a solution
Clement & Boule Associates supports these two Web Sites and their Phone Line services for their very professional approaches and appropriate behaviors in regard of suicide prevention:
http://www.preventsuicidenow.com/ Need help? Call toll free: 1-800-SUICIDE (services in English)
http://www.acsmmontreal.qc.ca/ressources/suicide.html Need help? For Montreal's residents, call: 1-514-723-4000 (services in both French and English)
This last one Web Site is not a professional site and Clement & Boule Associates is not in accord with some parts of it but as it offers some ways to help gay people dealing with their lives and give some good information about suicide by a personal point of view, and also links to professional Web Sites, we recommend it with reserve. Use your good judgment. For more accurate information about suicide, please visit the sites listed above.
The information transmitted by these two web sites are great tools for suicidal people, their surroundings and can also be a very good way for writers so they can remain accurate.
Note from the author
Feedbacks are welcomed, though don't send me flames. If you don't like the way I write, then stop reading instead of sending me crap. Constructive comments are the fuel of my writing. It also is my salary. No feedback, no story.
I was working on chapter 7 of my story Two Worlds when this one short story found a life of its own in my head. I had to write it so it stops bugging me. I hope you liked it.
Read my other stories on Nifty:
Hate in the High School section
Two Worlds in the Adult Friends section