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3 AM

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“What do you want from me, Dylan!”


The flickering, lilac light above the kitchen counter is giving me a headache and the look on Dylan’s face isn’t helping. He is staring at me with wide, beautiful eyes that are trying to convince me of God only knows what. I feel naked and exposed in my plain white t-shit that I sleep in and the green-red Christmas themed boxers mom gave me as a “small extra present” last year because she “though they were cute.”


“I want to know what’s going on, Lance. I can’t keep doing this. I thought you were over Shawn. I don’t want to be your rebound.” Dylan is gripping the side of the counter; it looks cold and I shy away from it, hands folded over my chest.


“Look who’s talking, Dyl. You came to me after Shawn left.” This is what happens when people all know each other since middle school and then start dating years down the road. Growing up together makes people like siblings, so they squabble like siblings, and that’s never a good sign. This is also what happens when within this lets-all-date-each-other group there is someone like Shawn who will fuck everything that moves and whom everyone is infatuated with without even realizing it,


Dylan looks hurt and he backs away, stuffing both hands into the pockets of his jeans. “You know it’s not like that at all. I could leave, Lance. Just say the words and I will leave you alone.”


I realize it is three in the morning and that I have work tomorrow and Dylan probably does too. I also realize that the last thing I want right now is for him to walk out the door, the noise of it slamming behind him echoing through the silent, empty apartment. I walk to the breakfast table and sit down, face in my hands. “No. I don’t want you to leave, Dyl. I just… It was messy, you know, Shawn and I. It got really bad when he left.” If I close my eyes I can still see bright crimson streaks on the white tiles of the bathroom floor and feel the sting of hot water rushing over my shoulder and arms and wrists, washing away the evidence.


“I know,” Dylan says quietly, his voice slightly hoarse with emotion and I wonder if he ever knew, if he ever saw. “But I don’t want you to act like everything is ok if it’s not. I’d rather just give you time. Because sometimes I don’t know if it is me or what?”


I look up at him through my fingers and shake my head. Somehow the counter light gives his chocolate brown hair a chestnut glint. It falls over his dark eyes in soft wisps that curl just slightly upward at the ends. There are deep circles under his soft eyes and I feel endlessly guilty. “You’re doing everything perfect. You’re beautiful and sweet and there’s nothing wrong with you.”


“And I love you.”


“Yea…. That too, Dyl.”  I wish he wouldn’t pressure me and I wish he didn’t leave. I know that is horribly selfish of me and that even Dylan can’t wait forever for someone who would rather sit on the couch and stare moodily into a cup of hot chocolate or tea than make love. I finally take my hands away from my face, letting them drop limply into my lap. “I can’t make you stay. But I can’t right now. Asking me to commit is like asking a polar bear to live in Africa.” I look down, hearing his sneakers squeak against the tiled floor and wait to feel the vibration of the slamming door. My shoulders hunch and I wonder what I did to make everyone want something from me. Shawn wanted it rough and open, Justin – now that he and Shawn are together –  doesn’t want me anywhere near his “new boyfriend,” and now Dylan wants a committed relationship that I’m sort of emotionally incapable of right now.


Dylan’s footsteps stop at my side and I look up uncertainly at him. He leans down and I close my eyes, expecting him to kiss me, but he kisses my forehead instead. “Alright, darling. Call me when you want; you know where I am.” He walks to the door and walks out of the apartment, but the door closes quietly, no slamming bangs to make me wince and shudder.


I rest my chin on my wrists and stare blankly at the microwave. The green clock there blinks 3:46. Maybe I will call Dylan this weekend and ask him for dinner. Maybe I can at least make a good faith effort. He loves me too much to deserve anything less.