Sometimes, George hates the glass.
Cold and unforgiving, occasionally he presses his forehead against the surface as if he could push his flushed thoughts out into the world, away from him.
Staring at the gleam of his glasses in the reflection of the windows, he isn’t quite sure at what he looks at. He traces the wrinkles with his eyes, resisting lifting his hand to adjust his hair. Flecks of grey fill his vision— old .
Does he deserve this fluttering feeling, as if his feet shall lift from the ground at a moment’s notice?
Flying is for the young when falling is second nature. They fall, they get up, unscathed. They fly together, buoyed by mutual affections and scorn for gravity. They do not care.
Standing alone in his glass heart, George presses against the glass gently. It does not give. He doesn’t think that he could survive a fall.
George sinks down onto the sand, resting his feet down near the waterline. Dark grains blend and mould to the opaque waves rolling in. As he stares out onto the grey waters, he watches as the land whirls into the sea in long, measured thrums of power.
What must it be like, he muses to himself, to be a mere grain of sand at the mercy of thousands of gallons of water tumbling on and over itself?
He can feel himself breaking into plumes of particles as well.
Sometimes, George feels as though this beach is his reality: there is nothing tying him down— a gust of wind easily enough to snip away the final wisps of bonds he has with others. He’s contemplated it— what it would be like to just leave right here and now, stripping off his shirt and slacks to just swim into the horizon until he is nothing more but a dot in a mirage of glitter. A grain of sand to be whisked away to unseen depths.
The water gives a steady roar as it inches towards his shoes.
He could just float away from it all, none the wiser. His students would simply learn to stare at a new face, perhaps a kinder one, perhaps a happier one. The only one who would notice— Charley . George considers her for a moment, of cobbled streets and nights out.
But he was never one for lingering— the whole reason he left England in the first place.
He smiles slightly, remembering an inside joke that was not intended as such.
Truly, he could just float away and none would notice. Light in his loafers .
Staring through the glass walls into the structure is personal, intimate. George feels himself in the walls— sinewy wood meeting with clear glass: showing all to anyone who looks. Strong and yet so fragile, seeing his reflection in the walls as a mirage over the woods makes him feel as though it will shatter if he just reaches out and touches —
But he is no longer alone— his house, his heart , is full. Full of laughter, of smiles, of hidden touches and heavy breaths mingling.
The wood glows with the affections of an unknowing occupant. They are surrounded by green and yet George feeling oceans swelling within him whenever crystal blue stares at him.
Walking up the stairs isn’t a chore, merely the brief trip to a much happier future. A finite moment that lasts forever in the glow of his heart. They are alone, invisible, and he is perfect.
To an outside observer, they would see that this home is simple happiness.
The process of his becoming theirs is a slow process that doesn't always become easier over time, but once done is irrevocable.
It’s not unlike slowly wading into the Pacific ocean. Feet first, toes sinking into rough, wave-worn sand. The first steps are easy, cool waves and sea foam immersing his ankles. There’s a certain smell of salt.
It gets harder around the knees, icy spray splashing his chest. The waves grow taller, threatening to embrace him in harsh whirls of currents. He looks to the horizon and there is endless ocean, deep blues swirling together with specks of white. Soon enough, the water surrounds him as his chest heaves and he acclimates.
He is weightless and the ocean carries him. It can be cruel and unkind, but the water wraps around him and the chill does not reach as far as before. He watches the sun turn the sea into a million gems of blue as another form joins him.
Hands join together, a fleeting warmth offered up to the waves. They pulsate together, only the thinnest stirring of ocean and salt between them. It’s no longer his legs kicking, his back floating on the waves, but theirs — an amalgamation of two into one. The sensation is one of wholesome completeness.
Leaving the water is a far greater endeavor.
The currents pull at him, guiding him back for every stroke he takes forward. The sea sucks and groans, clinging to him and demanding sacrifice. Sprays of salt kiss his chin and cheeks as if it were able to console the strangled cry in his chest of hasn’t he given enough?
The wind tears at his shivering, naked form. He crawls onto the sand, shaking at the effort to stand on the moving ground. His form feels heavy— alone . The sand gives like the chambers of his heart.
The wind offers no mercy to the innocent, unknowing child, and even less to the bereaved, world-weary man.
He does not return to the ocean for some time.
There is a man who is able to arise in the morning as if a switch has been turned, unadulterated voltage lighting up his cookie-cutter, perfect persona. To some, it is terrifying. To onlookers, it is beauty.
George is not that man.
Getting up is an hour-long process of equally agonizing and welcoming the day, a strong cup of coffee firmly guiding him.
If anyone were to embody that godly form of a man, one would think that George would offer up Jim— one of smiles and light and everything that George endeavors to be and yet always falls short of. But Jim is no perfect, immortal being as much as Charley describes him as having done “miracle work” on George.
George is, after all, the one who sees all of those tiny, human imperfections— the chip in one of George’s favorite mugs attests to this. He sees the way Jim bends the spines of his books, the less than immaculate upkeep of his drawers, the messy way he kisses in the mornings—
And yet for a man who has lived in both a society that claims to be the peak of civilization and the one that holds onto its rebellious individuality, Jim’s quirks strike a perfect balance that only endear him further to George.
As he stares up at the ceiling, distinctly aware of the familiar warmth beside him, George also can’t help but make the distinction that no perfect being would be able to be quite as obnoxious as Jim in the morning.
“G’morn, darling,” Jim hums without missing a beat, noticing George’s stirring. The gentle kiss and cheeky wink soothe any irritations George defaults to.
Still, the morning charm is definitely one of demonic origin. He feels the bed dip as Jim rolls off. The soft rustle as sheets are replaced and loose cotton covers chiseled form (George convinces himself that he doesn’t look).
From his faux-sulking position on his pillows, George hears Jim call out as he leaves: “what shall it be for breakfast? Eggs, toast, a combination of the two and more?”
George mumbles out “just eggs,” while he tries to dampen down the expansive feeling in his chest that can only be likened to a teenage girl’s first crush. Except he is neither perfect man nor teenaged girl.
He hears Jim reach the stairs and tries to not think of the man’s curving muscles as he makes his way down. Wryly, George amends to himself under his breath, “well, devils are known to be rather persuasive.” Culinary skills, it seems, are also an essential aspect of becoming a successful sodomite.
If one can learn to love anything, George thinks that he could learn to love long drives.
For now, all they present is exhaustion: weary palms grasping the leather steering wheel, the radio crackling as a hazy frequency buzzes in. But sitting adjunct to Jim feels more and more like happiness than a chore.
Occasionally, George steals glances over at the younger man in the passenger seat. The California evening casts warm hues onto his skin, turning tan skin into gold and reflecting in his eyes like iridescent diamonds. The words tumble out of George’s mouth exactly as he intends: completely and utterly unplanned.
Jim turns a curious eye towards him, bemused but affectionate. “And you’re knocking my socks off, old man. What’s up?” George can hear the smirk in his voice, all curled up and content.
After a moment of silence, Jim returns his gaze out the open window. George soaks in his profile, feeling a touch flushed at the question.
“Aren’t I allowed to tell my chosen other that . . . I very much adore him?” he finally fibs out. Eloquence is always an excellent facade for having no idea what he’s doing.
Jim seems to sense a sore subject has been reached and merely gives a small, accepting smile. “Of course you can.”
George then proceeds to almost run a red light when he feels soft lips on his cheek. He turns to sputter something indignant and Jim winks back, mouthing invisible coyly. No passerby has noticed the oddly intimate pair.
Relieved, George settles for sighing loudly in feigned suffering, letting the not-unpleasant warmth fill his chest as his shoulders relax. He hears children’s laughter and music through the window as the sun sets on the town. Jim leans back contentedly as a salty breeze ruffles their hair and rosies their cheeks. Today has been a good day.
Yes, George could learn to love this.
Kissing Jim feels as though he has waded into deep, chilling waters. Stirrings tug at his legs, raising goosebumps until the ocean embraces his chest and he feels his head submerge. Salt and a piercing sharpness prick at his eyes, and the arctic currents cocoon the undeniable sparks curling in his gut.
His lungs burn and eventually, he opens his eyes.
There is no ocean, no Jim.
George steps back, scuffed heel crunching into the snow. He tastes copper and bile.
The wind howls around him and for a moment, he thinks that hear can hear his own breathless gasps joining the streams of air. His hand pulls away from his face, revealing ink pooling from his mouth. He is a black, midnight stain in the midst of a flurry of chilling white. It has never felt so lonely before.