These events occurred somewhere in a place I've been. A place where time passes dreamily. A place where our heart's desires are fulfilled. Where every yearning heart is held and kept and lifted up in loving embrace. Please play safe and be kind to yourselves and to one-another.
Our community always felt like a small town. In truth, it is a semi-rural enclave on the outskirts of a large northern city. But it is one of those places that people don't seem to move away from. Or they do, but only for a while, and then they're back again. Our parents and grandparents came here and put down roots -- and boy, what roots! Most of the people in this story still live in the same houses, these grand old cozy big homes that once rang out with the shouts of their parents' voices as children. Grandma's cooking smells are still there, in the walls somewhere, if your nose is keen enough.
Anyway, a few years have passed -- not a lot -- and some of us have moved away. But the place just keeps drawing us back. Some to raise a family, some to heal. And I still see these people in the course of a day and often we have a moment to stop, perhaps to touch, and to look each other in the face and smile, remembering how we were.
Brand was on the line. "Hey, dude: D'ja get the Parks and Rec. flyer yesterday?" I asked.
"Coupla things. Look, I gotta talk to you -- bad!"
"Talk bad to me?"
"Yah. The child obscene phone caller."
"This weird comedian on TV. 'Merlin' or something."
"Sounds right. Anyway I gotta-gotta-gotta talk to you."
"Must be something pretty good."
"It... is... was... will be. We gotta talk. But I gotta see you in person. See your person... "
"Eww! Sounds serious."
"Get over here, or I'll scream. 'Fact I'll scream anyway. AHHHHH!"
"Christ, my ear. Fuck! Okay, I'll go check with Mom... umm... be right back."
"Okay. Be there in 10. Mom's gonna give Dustin his bath. He's, like, Mr. Mud."
Ten minutes later, I heard Brand's whistle and threw open the window.
"Hi Brand! Just come in the side and come on up." He excited me.
I could hear Brand's sneakers squeaking on the side entryway tile, then his feet coming up the stairs. Tell the truth, I had butterflies. First cuz he made me hard, thinking about him. Then there was THE NEWS, and I wasn't sure how he would react.
I was sitting on the bed. Brand appeared in the doorway, just not where I expected him. This ball of hair began to emerge next to the doorknob. The top of his head slowly sliding sideways, then his eyes, one above the other, a horizontal nose, then his smile. All sideways.
Then, stepping into view and straightening: "Hey, Big Guy, still talkin' to me?" He seemed... breezy, nonchalant.
"About yesterday... "
"Mmmmm?" I beamed.
"You're OK with it." Those eyes. More a statement than a question. Blue with a hint of hazel.
"Do I look OK?" I twinkled back at them.
"You always look... OK." Almost sharp, then grinning.
My heart fluttered a little. Love and a hint of fear. He must have caught it, cuz he got real still for a fraction. "Want you to promise me something," I demanded, seriously, taking one deep breath.
"Do I want to hear this?" His left eyebrow shot up. I can't do that. One eyebrow. He looked apprehensive. He walked over to stand by the window. Looking out.
"You do. Absolutely. That's why you have to listen to everything I have to say, before you react or cut me off. Or change the subject. Or get sad or pissed off. Promise?"
Suddenly solemn: "Sure, Derek. Whatever."
"Not 'Whatever.' You gotta hear me out. Promise me."
" 'Kay, promise." Turning to face me. Serious. Trying to stay loose.
"First let me ask: how do YOU feel about yesterday?" Waiting, gently.
"Pretty damn good, actually. I mean, I've fooled around a little, before, so... "
"No way! Who with?"
"Let's see how the rest of this conversation goes and maybe I can tell you," he said, walking over to stand by me, looking down at the dark wood floor.
"So? Go on," I prompted, gesturing to where he had been standing. Oddly, he walked back over to the window again, right where I had gestured.
"Well, to tell you the truth, I... I've sorta had the hots for you ever since you guys moved back. Started out as just a physical thing, but... I've sorta had a crush on you... " he faltered, "Just figured that I didn't stand a chance, what with your skating and all. I mean all the hot girls 'n stuff. You know... "
"You mean my skating partners?" I asked incredulously, "For God's Sake!"
"What? I mean. What you guys do is so fucking sexy, I just assumed... "
"Yeah, sexy on the outside, maybe," I laughed, ruefully. "On the ice, it's just work. Half the time, it's my job. The house rent-a-partner. Sexy as breaking rocks. Anyway, go on. Actually, sexy as algebra, effortless as breaking rocks... Bad breath and shit. Anyway, go on. Oh, and my own ice time is even worse. So anyway, go on."
"Want me to go on?" he smirked.
"Sorry. Anyway, go on." The eyebrow, again.
He came back and sat, very gently, on the bed, half facing me. "Anyway, so I guess I'm starting to realize that... at least at this stage of my life... " He trailed off, going someplace distant. Then his head turned. Weird. It just turned. Not like HE turned it. When the front of it was pointed back at me, he sorta slid back in behind the eyes and saw me. Reanimated. It became Brand's face again. A little jarred, he contemplated me.
"I guess I just want more of what we had yesterday... That was... " He looked a little saddened, dubious of my reaction. A little wistful. A little shake of the head.
"Umm-Hum. It Was," I whispered, making him sway a little. He stared. When I'd said that, I'd felt like I had dipped my hands into something... my heart, maybe... like a bowl, and handed him something. Some piece of me. And he'd made a little noise as he'd received it, and leaned toward me. He'd just seen himself doing that.
I closed the distance and he sighed as our lips touched. Just... barely... touched. Barely. Breathing on each other. With each other. This time I didn't have to wait to be taken there. This time I could carry us both back to the Source. No doubts, no reservations this time. I pushed him gently back on the bed, rising to my knees to follow him down and lie above. Eyes closed.
The power pouring in through me, into our mouths, sweeping us up, carrying us off, enfolding us, tiny Brand, tiny Derek, mounting, trembling now, high high above, each-other tiny. Our lust fusing us together, into a single trembling thing. Deep in each other's mouths, quivering, our bulges finding each other, probing, pressing their yielding fullness. Sharp pangs of fulfilling pleasure. Pressing, pressing. Our bodies taking the rhythm, continuing unbidden. Twangs of ecstasy, now. Tightening, filling, urgent, urgent. Pressing, pressing the fullness of the other. Pressing our fullness together. One quivering fullness, opening, now, like a single burning flower. Our blaze now towering! Giving ourselves joyously to the flame, being consumed, thrusting, burning. Hanging there, amidst the shattered air: tiny, tiny nudges. Engulfing Ecstasy. Sweet Fire jetting, jetting... jetting... fading... sighing.
Kissing him tenderly. Looking, as they opened, into his deep, deep eyes, a trembling momentary glimpse at his soul. Unbearably sweet. Smiling. Trusting. Loving. His head was in my hands and I was stroking his cheek tenderly with my right thumb. Looking in his eyes. My soul was singing.
"Ohh, baby," I breathed, "Do you feel it... ?" Could there be doubt? Kissing him again, lightly. He just nodded, little tiny nods. Eyes bright and brimming.
We lay there, basking. Then, as the glow slowly faded, I sat up. I took a deep breath. Pulled him up to sit against the wall.
"Brand! Remember your promise?"
He nodded and smiled wistfully.
"Brand, baby," I kissed him gently. Our faces almost touching: "I... I got laid today. By a girl. My first... only time, ever."
His face fell and my heart began to sink.
"And all I could think of was you, Brand." I felt the tears starting.
He looked at me, lost and uncomprehending.
"You. I wanted to be making love to YOU."
His eyes brimmed and ran over. "I'm sooo mixed up," he wailed, in a tiny voice.
"Brand! Listen to me, man! I had to try it. I had to. Had to. After yesterday... " Softer now: "Yesterday, something broke loose in me. You opened up something inside of me. YOU did that!"
Brand was studying my face as if memorizing it, his focus shifting from one of my eyes to the other, back and forth, back and forth, rapidly, maybe preparing to lose me.
"Cicely came to ME, man. She came HERE. She asked ME. How magical is that, man? She, like, came outta nowhere, Brand! Don't you know it was you who did that for me?"
He managed a more serene smile. "Now I'm jealous. Or, err, kinda. Mostly happy for you. Cicely is fucking world class, man. She's gonna be a star."
"Okay, but you promised to let me finish."
"Brand, it felt really good. Really good. I can see what the fuss is about. I mean, you can tell that the... uh... bodies are made for that and they kinda know what they're doing... but I kissed her and... actually, it kinda blew her socks off. More like her shirt, actually," I chortled. "But the thing IS... it was like kissing my own arm!" I demonstrated, briefly making out with my arm. "But jeez, Brand, it sure started HER motor."
"So how many times d'ja do it?" He had this hungry look. I kissed his lips again. Kissed his brow. Each eye. He sighed.
"Just once." I said, shrugging.
"Why, for God's sake?"
"Well, uhh... first of all, she was grabbing my crotch, sorta kneading it and stuff, and I... uhh... blew a load in my drawers."
"You were doing this on your dresser?" he smirked. Maybe we were out of the woods, here.
"Pffff ! So anyway, we went down to the rink, afterwards -- I need to talk to you about that, too -- and skated a couple of numbers, and then I just busted up crying, man. I just fell apart on her. Hard."
"What? Why?" he asked, sounding concerned, mystified.
"I don't know! Cuz it wasn't LOVE. It wasn't anything like what we just had. It was... "
My chest hurt and I had a lump in my throat. "I like her... it was very... tender... it shoulda been very... " I felt the ground crumbling beneath me.
"I... we... " I began to sink. "We didn't go, you know... like... Ahhh!... like, to, to the... the... to the... " and I broke down sobbing.
I hadn't betrayed Brand, had I? Lost him? NO! A wordless cry of anguish. NO! I felt so small. Shrunken down to a shrivelled husk of... nothing.
Brand collected me and kissed me softly, tenderly, chastely on the lips, cradling me, brushing my hair back, gentling me: "Hushhh, there... now hushhh. I'm here, baby."
Well, that did it. Calling me "baby," right then... I rolled over and cried so hard I doubled up and shouted my sobs into the pillow. Whew! I didn't even know where any of that was coming from. "Promise me you won't... go away!" I ended on a choked shriek. Then sobbing, again, like my heart was broken.
"Derek, Dare, C'mon baby. H'shhhh! It's OK. I'm here! Don't go into it deeper. I'm here, baby. Come outta there. Come to me. It's me. Come to me. H'shhhh. Relax."
"Hold me, Brand, " I gritted, pushing at the pain. "BE with me! HERE! Hold. Me. NOW! HOLD ME!" I demanded, almost chanting, still sobbing convulsively. Catching my need, he grabbed me very un-tenderly. Man-handling me. Bear hugging me. Pulling me up, turning me, he began walking me around. Very firmly. No nonsense, here.
It took a couple of minutes and then I suddenly snapped out... of something. It lifted. The pain-fear-despair thing just suddenly went away. Or it stayed put and I went away. Away, anyway. The bottomless pit closed up. Saved!
"Whew. Was I hysterical?" I asked, suddenly wiped out, giggling.
"I guess that's what that was... " Hearing the giggle, he was being cautious.
"Fuck!" Relieved. Back above ground. "Whew. Damn! Don't Ever go THERE."
"Do you want to sleep? I'll hold you."
"No. No! Umm, I mean yes, but... I mean, I have to talk to you. You better call your mom. Tell her it'll be another hour. You hungry?"
"Yeah." He gave me a look. Like, "If you think I'm leaving you like this... "
"Tell her... Ask her if you can stay for pizza." I managed a little half smile.
Of course she HAD to agree. This was Brand, the full-time orbital babysitter. Just getting him a little Extra Vehicular Activity. So we were in the kitchen and the frozen pizza was cooking. Mom was working a double, according to her message on the tape.
"Brand. Will you be my... friend?"
"I thought I was!"
"No, I mean, can I count on... can we... ?" I groped.
"Can you be the only one... for me?"
I nodded, hanging by a desperate thread again, suddenly so very small.
"Absolutely. Absolutely. Derek, there's never been anyone like you, for me. Never."
"Yesss!" I exulted, looking up, shaking my clenched hands. Tears, but happier ones. Just one and a half eyefuls, this time.
Seventeen minutes left on the pizza.
Wiping my eyes: "Brand. Ohh, fuck. What are you doing for spring break?"
"Spring Break?" He asked, incredulously, disoriented at the shift of topic. That's fucking... " he figured on his fingers, "seven months away! What the fuck! Nothing! Who Knows? Who Cares?" He stared at me. "Why?"
"I can't promise you anything, do you understand. Nothing? Can't Promise?"
"If I can swing it. I mean if WE can swing it. Umm, will you come to St. Croix with me?"
"Where the FUCK? Someplace in Minnesota?"
"NO, MON, the eye-lands! As in the Caribbean, as in steel drums and coconuts and shit. Rastaman Vibration!"
He stared at me: "What's this about? Running away?"
I looked at him like he was crazy. "No! Shit! How much you know about my dad's ummm... what he does?"
"Some sort of electrical, math... thing. No, I don't. Don't know anything."
"Good. Let's keep it that way. Not even Mom really knows. I'm invited down to where he's... staying. For spring break. I have to give him an answer in a couple of weeks and I wanted to invite... to ask him if I could invite you. And under normal circumstances, I woulda asked him first, so I wouldn't risk raising your hopes and then disappointing you. But... with Dad, very little is ever normal. The request alone is, like, burning a major favor. And then we might need to get you shots. Man you gotta keep this quiet. Seriously, Brand. The longer his... Can I just have your promise not to mention this to anyone, yet?"
"I haven't told you who else I did it with, have I?" he regarded me levelly.
"True. And I won't ask. Tell me if it's ever important, if they agree."
"Not 'they.' 'Him,' as in 'one.' Just the one."
"Okay, well, ask him first, okay?"
"Yeah," sighed Brand.
Brightening, he asked: "I'm not gonna get shot or some shit, am I?" only half joking.
"What? Have you no sense of adventure?" Imperiously peering down at him, where he sat at the table.
"So?" I demanded, with one -- well, actually, both -- eyebrows raised. Gonna have to get Brand to teach me that trick.
Brand just cocked his head.
"So? Should I ask Dad?"
"Fuck yes! Are you nuts?"
"This part of me right down here is! Okay! Now! Parks and Rec. Are you gonna renew your rink pass?"
"Well, prob'ly. Can't afford to pay every time. Why?"
"First... just a sec. What do you pay, Brand?"
"I dunno. Maybe three hundred bucks. I think its three-fifteen."
"Jeez-US! I pay over eighteen fuckin' hundred dollars! That's with my discount! It burns half my fucking pay from the rink!"
"Shit! But then you're on the ice half the fucking summer... Anyway, so? Why?"
"Actually it's not the time I spend. It's paying for the early morning staff and shit."
"Oh, Jeee-zus, Dare! I mean why did you ask about my pass?"
"Oh. Well, I'm not sure about the airfare to you-know-where. I thought maybe I could finagle something for you at the rink and we could sorta set the pass money aside... "
"Maybe," said Brand, sidling up, "Hey, Mon, you want to fool around, Mon?" he said in this fakey Jamaican voice.
"Hey! How about something to eat?"