This is first draft with basic alterations-anywhere I notice missing punctuation or a typo. It's a story which has a companion story and is shaping up to either be a collection of related stories or the components of a novel. It might be utter crap. Perhaps you will like it. I will never know if I don't put it out there.
A Beginning and an End
When I left home at eighteen to go to university, it was the first time I was separated from Brian, my twin brother, and I was actually looking forward to it. We aren’t identical twins, though we do look quite a bit alike, and we never had that bond that you hear about with twins. The only thing we had in common was our blond hair and stocky build. Brian always loved sports but I never did. He went to university on a golf scholarship and I went with the money I earned working at the local Co Op after school and washing dishes in the summer. Brian had dreams of fame and fortune, I think. All I ever wanted was a normal life and I always knew what I needed to do to get it.
I was doing theatre when I met Melanie. I wasn’t a theatre major or anything like that; I was a poli-sci and history double major and I had my sights set on law school, but I needed some sort of stress release with that heavy academic load and I wanted to join some sort of club. There was a guy in my first year English class. He was tall and had dark grey eyes and a really deep and husky sort of voice. I sat beside him on the first day and I almost couldn’t breath. I could smell him. It wasn’t cologne it was more like soap and leather. I can still remember the way he smelled. He looked me right in the eyes and said, “hi”, holding my gaze in a way that made me uncomfortable.
“Hi”. I couldn’t hold his gaze and I looked away but seconds later I had to look back. I looked at his hands, holding a pen in both of them, running his thumb up and down it as he listened to the lecture begin.
After class I followed him. I don’t know why I did; it was crazy but I couldn’t help it. I kept back quite a bit and I’m sure he didn’t know I was there. He went into a building I wasn’t familiar with, the Fine Arts building. I’d never had a reason to go there before. Of course he was going to a drama club meeting, which I found out because I kept following him and ended up in that meeting myself. I had to pretend I meant to be there.
“Oh hi. You again.” He smiled that smile.
“Yeah me again. English 101. You an actor or more of a stage crew guy?” It sounded so lame and I cringed as I said it. I can still remember his laugh. Then a guy came up to him, a guy who looked sort of like Alfred E Neuman with tons of freckles, a goofy grin and ears that stuck out. This guy walked right up to him and slipped an arm around him and kissed him. On the mouth. I was probably staring because I’d never seen that before and I wasn’t sure how it made me feel but I knew I was aroused. A guy can’t really deny that when the evidence is right there in his pants. I ended up in the drama club.
It turned out I was pretty good at it, well an okay actor I mean. It was fun and I liked the people. Melanie was in the club too but she wasn’t really interested in acting. She would do bit parts but mostly she wanted to work on the sets. She liked getting the props and designing the sets and helping to paint backgrounds and that sort of thing. She was easy to talk to and we started hanging out together outside of drama club. I could tell she liked me. She had that way of giggling a bit too much and staring at me and I was flattered. She was pretty. She was really nice. So I kissed her. She responded so intensely I realised she’d been waiting for it. I think she expected me to go further but I didn’t at first. I waited a couple of weeks until it was clear to both of us that we were officially kissing every time we got together and then I made a move for more. I had only ever had sex with one other girl. That was in high school on our graduation night. Hailey was her name. My grad date. She had really wanted to lose her virginity and I thought why the hell not! I didn’t tell her I was a virgin too. It was all right, I think. The sex I mean. It was over kind of fast but I think she liked it. With Melanie it was different. It was slower and I was a bit nervous because I wasn’t drunk. I felt safe with Melanie and liked that feeling. We were really good friends and we had pretty good sex together and we had things in common. We both liked the drama club and playing tennis and those old horror movies that are kind of cheesy, like The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I guess they call those classic sci-fi. We both dreamed of some day settling down in the suburbs and having three kids and a dog and a mini van. Melanie was an art history major but she felt guilty. I remember that she thought she should do something more practical so she switched her major when we were half way through second year. She switched to psychology.
After university we had been together so long and were obviously serious I guess everyone expected us to get married. We knew we would eventually. I had to take a break and work for a bit before I could go back to law school. We wanted to wait and get married after I finished law school. Melanie got work pretty easily, an entry level job with potential. I slipped back into retail jobs knowing I was soon going back to law school but we saved money and planned the future like people do. We thought we knew what we wanted, or I thought I knew but that was before I went to Honolulu and met Greg. That’s when it all got confusing.
Law school was intense and I was still working part time. I worked and studied and didn’t have much of a life or any time for fun so when it was over I wanted a bit of a break. Although Melanie and I were going to go on a honeymoon trip after we got married, I really wanted a little beach vacation to treat myself after all that hard work and stress. I found the money and booked a ticket for a two week trip to Hawaii. Melanie wasn’t really into beach vacations anyhow since she sunburns so easily, so we were planning to go to New York for our honeymoon. We could go to museums and see a play on Broadway, that was the plan. Anyhow, I was packing for Honolulu and Melanie was sitting on the edge of the bed. She suddenly asked, “So do you think you’ll have a little fling while you’re there?” Asking me in the same voice a waitress uses to ask if I want a little parmesan on my pasta but with a completely different look in her eye.
“Why would you ask me that? What kind of question is that anyhow?” I stopped putting tee shirts into my suitcase and turned towards her, incredulous.
“I’m just joking. Or at least I think I am. I dunno, maybe I’m not. Maybe I just feel a bit weird that you’re going away on you own.”
“Don’t you trust me?”
“Of course I do. It’s just.. isn’t Hawaii kind of a honeymoon place?”
She laughed while she said that; I guess it was just one of those nervous laughs but at the time I wasn’t finding it funny. I couldn’t think of anything else to say so I just kept packing. I told her I was only interested in relaxing in the sun, getting a tan and sleeping lots and drinking mai tais while listening to music and watching sunsets on the beach, that sort of thing.
“It sounds romantic” she said.
“Ha, well I guess I will be romancing myself and sleeping a lot.”
“You can sleep here.”
“Melanie, why are you doing this now? I have to catch a plane in five hours.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It must be nearly that time of the month or something. I guess I’m just going to miss you.”
She wiggled herself into my arms and snuggled close and since there was still lots of time, we went to bed for an hour.
I first saw him sitting in the bar drinking one of those mai tais all the tourists like to drink. He had gorgeous thick blond hair and I remember noticing his arms. They were thick and strong but not over developed, sort of muscled from actual use as opposed to working out. Technically I was a tourist too, but I had gone to Hawaii every year for the past fifteen years so I didn’t really feel like one. First I went with my dad and stepmother, but after they split up and I was twenty one I told my dad I just wanted to go on my own and he handed over the cash. Ten years after that I was still making the trip every March. It was something to look forward to, something that relieved the tedium of being junior partner in a family firm. I never really wanted to do corporate law, but it would have been a disappointment to my dad and there was a time once when I cared about that.
There was a time when I cared about a lot of things that my dad cared about, like going to law school, dating the prettiest girls, wearing nice clothes and taking nice vacations, all the trappings of the successful man. There was at least one problem. I didn’t like girls. In fact it was worse than that. I couldn’t even fake it because when I tried I would gag. I hadn’t kissed a girl until I was at university when it became clear my dad expected me to be dating. It was okay in high school as I could pretend the girls weren’t good enough, but at university dad expected me to find a good one. A good one meant one with family money of course, pretty, just smart enough and blonde. Well I did inherit his taste for blondes. I just like a certain appendage to be there and when I looked at Chris I imagined the appendage and I knew I wanted to become acquainted. I have to admit that now I like to look back and tell myself it was love at first sight because I can actually be kind of romantic but really it wasn’t. It was just lust and he was a tourist. He wasn’t going to be there for very long anyhow. I sauntered over to the bar where he was sitting, confident and comfortable because this was my turf. I had no idea if he was straight or gay but he was alone so I figured I may as well find out and oh lucky day! The seat beside him was empty.
I didn’t think anything of it at the time of course. It was my first night there and all I wanted to do was sit at the bar and drink a few mai tais and soak up the atmosphere. I’ve never been much into dancing. Melanie liked it so I’d always do a few slow dances with her. Slow dancing is just hugging and groping in time to slow music. It’s not that hard. I like the beat of music. I like to listen to it and tap my fingers to it, but I don’t dance and other than tourists learning to do the hula you don’t really associate Hawaii with dancing anyhow so I figured I could sit in the bar of the resort and not feel remotely out of place for not dancing and with Melanie not there, no pressure to dance either. I was tired. In flying to Honolulu from Vancouver you are going back three hours so it wasn’t as late there as my body felt it was. I was determined not to miss out on my first evening by crashing into bed so soon. I hadn’t been sitting there very long when a really good looking guy came and sat beside me. He struck up conversation really easily, seemed so completely comfortable and confident like I was a guest in his house. Leaning in towards me a bit to speak over top of the music he said, “Hi I’m Greg. Welcome to Honolulu. You just got in tonight, right?
“ Yeah, how did you know? Oh I’m Chris by the way.” I held out my hand to shake hands with him and I’m sure he held my hand just a little bit longer than with a normal handshake. I’m sure of it and I remember it so well, that shock and thrill it sent through me and the subsequent tug in my gut. His hand was warm and firm. He looked me in the eyes as we touched and I knew that he knew and he knew that I knew he knew and it all just started there. Of course we still had to go through a few more tests before either of us could be sure. We talked and laughed and leaned in to be heard over the music. After a few drinks he suggested we head off to walk a bit for some fresh air and get away from the loud music.
The air was heavy and humid, warm and sweet, much different from Vancouver air which is also humid but not sweet. There were palm trees and plants I couldn’t identify all over the place but I suppose I didn’t really care. I remember them there as part of the background, the shapes and the colours but that wasn’t really what I was focused on. All the sights and sounds and smells of Honolulu are ones that are forever linked with Greg. We walked a bit in silence, down onto the beach where the sand was warm and many couples walked, arm in arm or hand in hand. We walked close, hands brushed against each other’s just slightly once in awhile. I think he was testing to see if I would accept it, but by now he must have been pretty confident. I had accepted what was basically a romantic stroll on the beach with him. We walked and talked for ages it seemed. It was so easy to talk about anything and I think we talked a lot about fathers. I noticed that we had gotten to a part of the beach that was not so well populated and that our pace was slowing down. Then we were stopped, standing there facing each other and he just leaned in and kissed me, soft and wet, and I moaned as I felt my knees go weak.
We sank down to the sand and continued kissing, hands groping frantically, my heart pounding. What if someone saw? I was terrified and at the same time I didn’t care at all. We made love in the sand and I’m not ashamed to say those words. It wasn’t just sex. It wasn’t a fuck. We both know that now; we both say that to each other, whispered words of comfort when we are so far apart.
“I haven’t ever..” I started to say, and he shushed me gently. He slid my shorts down smoothly and his head went down with them and Oh God I was lost again. This is where the movie director would fade to a scene of a great surfing sized wave curling in towards shore and crashing on the sand. But my life is not a movie. It’s real and complicated and I don’t know if it’s going to have any happy ending.
I remember that week so well, our first week together. We were inseparable immediately and I think I knew I was in love but I wasn’t really admitting it to myself yet. I didn’t have any plans for love or monogamy or romance or that sort of thing. I had only thought about having a good time and sex and maybe an infatuation here and there. I’m gay. I didn’t have high expectations. I thought I would just have to make a life of fun for myself because what else was I going to have? We went golfing, swimming, rented bikes and rode around so I could show off a bit, like his personal tour guide. He gave up his hotel room on the third night and stayed with me at my place. I had never done that before, never brought a guy home. With previous guys I always kept it casual, went to their hotel rooms, made it clear it was just a vacation fling and that it didn’t mean anything to me. Chris was different. I wanted to share more with him. I wanted to impress him. I wanted him to want me, not just the orgasms I could give him. I was upset when I found out that he had a fiance, though I didn’t tell him that. She was a woman he had known at school and he wasn’t out to anyone back home. We talked about that a lot.
Chris was scared. He had not really admitted to himself that he was attracted to guys. He said that all he’d ever wanted in life was normal and quiet sorts of success. You know, the wife, two kids half a dog and a mini-van or however that statistic goes. Oh yeah, and a quiet, dull but decently paying job in civil law. That’s why we went golfing. He told me he thought he would have to play golf and schmooze with people and he had never really been into sports but figured he could manage golf. He was okay at it for a first timer. I loved just being with him all the time but the golfing was great because I could watch him. I could stare at his body as he teed off or walked down the fairway after the ball and imagine the hot sex we would have when we got home.
I didn’t know it could be like that, I mean the way we just clicked and it was so much more than sex, though the sex was good. It was really good. I could really talk to him about anything and we would just laugh and cook a meal together, though I’m not much of a cook, Greg is. I just chop stuff up as I’m told to. So that’s what I did and we drank wine and played music and danced around the kitchen shaking our butts at each other and laughing. I told him all about Brian and how we are so different and I had never felt like I was getting it right, the being a man stuff I mean. Brian was so confident about his physical abilities and I wasn’t but I knew I was smart. It just didn’t seem to be enough. I felt like I had to prove myself somehow, be successful, be happy, have it all as they say.
And Melanie is really great and I do love her. I just don’t think I was ever IN LOVE with her. But I thought that was okay; I thought that it was like that for lots of people or at least they ended up that way in a marriage so how could it hurt to start the marriage that way? I told Greg all about Melanie and I’m not sure if I should have, and I am not sure which of them I felt more disloyal to at the time. Maybe I wanted to find out if Greg was jealous. I was falling in love though I didn’t really know it then, or didn’t admit it to myself. But then there was the night Greg told me he loved me.
We had been drinking. We weren’t hammered but we were pretty drunk and we decided to have a bath. I wanted to make it romantic with bubbles and candles but I wasn’t sure if he would be into that so I just said I was going to have a bath and that he should join me. I joked that we should make it romantic with the bubbles and candles and I laughed as I set them up but he seemed to be okay with it so I relaxed a little. We lay in the bath together, and were silent for awhile. I know my head was buzzing with the wine and I was feeling so happy, like I had never felt before and then I just blurted it out.
“Don’t marry her.”
There was silence and my heart sank like a rock. I had made myself vulnerable, something I thought I would never do and I was already thinking about how I would back out of it when he replied. I am sure he was crying but he says he wasn’t. I couldn’t see his face. His head was resting against my chest and I had my chin resting on top of his head.
“I have to.” He said. “I have this whole life I am living back home that isn’t anything like this and I think I want that life and I don’t know how to do this life.”
“You’re doing it now. This is how to do this life.”
“No it’s not. I have a career and parents and friends and there is a wedding that is planned. This is a fantasy.”
I was stung. I had always been the one who played, who was detached and wasn’t going to get hurt and now I had fallen for this guy and he couldn’t commit. I whispered into his hair, “ I love you.” I said it quietly so he wouldn’t hear but I had to say it.”
“This is really special.” He told me. “I will never forget this and you will always mean a lot to me.”
He went back to Melanie two days later but we exchanged phone numbers and e-mail. I tried not to show that my heart was breaking.
My heart was broken when I left Honolulu. I didn’t really comprehend that at the time and I still thought I was doing the right thing and the best thing. I thought it would be best for everyone if I just put the trip behind me and carried on as I had before. I thought that I would just keep his phone and e-mail as a reminder of him. The only reminder I had. But it didn’t quite go like that. I told Melanie that I’d made a friend there, a guy who I’d golfed with and I could see the relief on her face that I hadn’t been chasing bikini clad babes up and down the beach. That gave me confidence. It made me believe I could keep Greg in my life somehow, my new buddy.
Melanie and I got married and life went on, but in the meantime Greg and e-mailed regularly. As far as Melanie knew it was just every couple of weeks to talk golf scores and law stuff. I told her Greg was in corporate law and that seemed to be enough to establish for her that we talked shop. We did talk about golf and our work; we talked about everything and freely in a way that I couldn’t even manage with Melanie and she was the person I had thought I was closest to. I didn’t have any trouble being in bed with Melanie, the intimacy was okay, but I just hadn’t known it could be so much better.
I began to feel desperate to see Greg. Although he had a regular rental arrangement for his extended stays in Honolulu, he lived and worked in Edmonton. It was enticingly close really, if you consider how big Canada is. Maybe not the easiest to slip away for regular afternoons but we worked out a way to see each other. Yeah, it was that good old business trip excuse. I could easily fly to Edmonton for a few days, and I went on weekends telling Melanie that it was for work related issues. I didn’t want to hurt her. I told myself that just one weekend a month would be fair. And Greg started flying into Vancouver too, staying in a hotel and I would sneak off to be with him.
The more you get the more you want. That’s true of sex but it’s true of love too. We wanted to be together, which we were managing but it wasn’t enough anymore. The years were going by and I was living a double life and all I wanted was Greg. I got reckless.
We wanted more of each other. Whatever we had wasn’t enough and of course I’d always known it would be like that. I hadn’t wanted him to marry her. I wasn’t with anyone who mattered after those first two weeks with him in Honolulu. At first it was just a couple of weeks of pining but when I got his e-mail I knew he had come back to me and that I could win at this. All is fair in love and war, right? I loved him. He wrote cautiously at first, maybe afraid his e-mails weren’t private. After awhile I made sure to tell him that they were. I wanted to see if that changed things a bit and it did. We went on for years with e-mails, furtive phone calls, clandestine visits. I didn’t like it but I was willing to have whatever I could get of him.
I will never forget when things changed. Chris got more careless, or at least that is sort of how it looked but I thought maybe there was something else going on. I dared to hope. Sometimes when I stayed in Vancouver and he came to the hotel to be with me, he’d say he had told Melanie he was working late but he’d stay with me all night. “What will you tell her?” I’d ask when he left at 5am.
“Oh I’ll just say I worked really late, fell asleep on the sofa in the office thinking it would just be a little nap.”
It sounded kind of feeble to me. Surely Melanie wouldn’t buy it. But it seemed that she did. He told me one weekend when we were together that she’d had a miscarriage. I was so glad. I didn’t say that to him. I’m not a jerk, but I thought it. I was glad she had lost the baby because a child might keep him there with her. He had once thought he wanted kids. That whole package, remember? He was changing his mind. He even wondered out loud if he should get a vasectomy. He suggested getting it done in Edmonton so Melanie wouldn’t know. I was a little shocked at how devious that was. It wasn’t really like him to be that devious but it felt good to know he was drifting away from her and more towards me. It was what I’d always wanted and I knew I could make him happy. I could make him happier than he was with her.
I didn’t plan it. I didn’t set out to get caught but was just getting to that point where I didn’t care. I suggested to Greg that we meet at my house, that Melanie would be at work and we’d have all day. I wanted to share some of my real life with him, not always be sneaking around and hanging out in hotels. I wanted that sense of the domestic we had at his place in Honolulu or Edmonton. I wanted to bring him into my world instead of always having to go into his. I wanted our world to be the same one. I just wanted it to be easier.
We spent the day in bed, the bed that Melanie and I slept in together. It was a bit weird I guess. We had beer and pizza. We had sex and we made love. There’s a difference and with Greg I had both like I’d never had before and it was both exhilarating and yet safe. I heard her come home. Greg looked at me like he knew and he was ready for this. We weren’t naked, not at that point. That would have been kind of tacky. We were watching tv when she came in, but we were definitely in the bed together, Greg with his arm around me and we were mostly undressed. The room probably smelled of sex. I had one eye on the television and one on the bedroom door and I saw her freeze in the doorway and stare. Then she sort of hiccuped and ran to the kitchen.
“Now what do we do?.” Greg asked. I got out of the bed and pulled on my jeans.
Melanie was in the kitchen leaning against the island counter. She was shaking and I couldn’t tell if it was with anger or with crying.
“Mel I… I guess we should talk. I’m just going to see Greg out and then we can talk.”
She gaped at me with her mouth open. I noticed that her face was dry. No tears. I wanted to get Greg out with some dignity but I didn’t really need to worry about that. He could handle himself just fine. He appeared in the kitchen, fully dressed and said curtly, “You know where I’ll be, Chris.” Then he was gone.
I tried to explain to her. I sat on the sofa and I cried. I told her I had not meant to hurt her and that I had been so confused for so long. She said she didn’t know what to say, that her thoughts were not coming clearly but she knew she was never going to sleep in that bed ever again. She moved her clothes into the spare bedroom that night. We functioned like two ghosts unaware of each other but haunting the same house. We were like that for a couple of weeks. I went to work. Melanie didn’t. I wanted her to leave. By then I knew that. I felt bad though, I felt really bad that I had hurt her and messed things up. I wanted her to get mad but she was quiet. I wanted her to throw things and yell but that had never been her way.
After a couple of weeks, we were both in the kitchen on a Saturday morning. I was doing the crossword puzzle. I didn’t know what else to do so I was just coasting. Greg had gone back to Edmonton and I think he was mad but I said I just needed a bit of time and asked him to be patient. He said he had been patient for years. I was afraid I was going to lose him. On that Saturday, roughly three weeks after, Melanie told me she wanted a divorce and that she was moving out.
It took ages for anything to happen. This wasn’t at all how I’d imagined it but at least it eventually went as I’d hoped. Melanie left him and he was okay with it. I think he’d thought he would be lost without her but he wasn’t. Not that it was smooth sailing for him to come out to his family and friends because he had been hiding it for so long but at this point he had no choice. I think he set it up that way. I think he forced his own hand but we don’t really talk about it. Chris is working on making the move to Edmonton now that the divorce is settled. They had to sell their house and of course to deal with all the family drama.
I’ve got a new job lined up in Edmonton now. It’s a whole new beginning for me, a more authentic life. Isn’t that what everyone wants nowadays, to live life with authenticity?