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Hope is a Dangerous Thing.

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----- p.g. -----

 

        It’s sunny outside. Bright. Beautiful. Everything is green. Pierre’s eyes cast towards the window, out at the garden with the roses in full bloom. Every so often his attention wanders towards his dresser where a collection of photographs decorate it. Karting wins, his first single seater ride, relatives and distance rememberings. Taken during a long-ago spring, the first one is a younger photograph: Charles and himself each with crystalin smiles and hopeful gazes. It’s the one beside it that his mind adventures to second. His cheeks are flushed with weather and his arms wrapped around that of an old friend. That friend looks to him as though they’d rather be no place on the universe but beside him.  

        Pierre hadn’t truly spoken to Esteban since his birthday. Every text went unanswered, each call met limited response. His replies arrive in single words until trickling into a silence that had never existed between them before . But Pierre thinks of him often, everyday almost. He thinks of the night as well, the final time that he saw him. Just as the picture: his cheeks are rouge and his eyes never left you, did they? How Pierre approached him on the balcony and Esteban appeared surprised to see him. It was cold that night, both of them shivering into the lapels of their coats. A lonely street, street lamps carving a path of light in the dense, winter darkness. Esteban glanced at him as though god himself had carved the line of his lips. 

        Pierre’s hand brushed his for only a moment… and Esteban spoke silently in a language of comfort. He had wanted to take a ride, to be with you. Charles had softly slipped into Pierre’s brain then: soft pillows of his laughter, how one kiss from his lips breathed into him an eternity of heaven. But Esteban kept bringing to light the past. He brought up story after story until the conversation was nothing more than memories spoken with melancholy grins. Through the smothers, there was something lingering on his tongue. Desired but unspoken lyrics: words needing only courage to convey. Things that Esteban never got the chance to tell him.

         Pierre shoveled at the curiosity in his stomach as he stared into the garden. For the fifth time this month, his pressed at Esteban’s name in his phone. He did what he always did: waited. 

 

----- e.o. -----

 

        E steban misses the road trips and smashing into each other karting. He misses late night phone calls leading nowhere and adventures in the winter paradise they’d built as children . But more than anything: he missed him. Pierre. The living breathing being. How golden each moment felt beside him, the scent of security and joy. Most of all: the rest your weary head on my shoulder presence. 

        More than not, Esteban is okay. He laughs, races fast and lives life harder than he ever has before. And he is… okay. But there are times, they come as often as waves splash over distant shores. It begins in his mind (a memory or his phone chiming) before it travels to his heart. It can arrive anytime, anyplace and anywhere. But it creeps in like an unwanted surprise. Causes the goosebumps to rise on his pale skin; strokes of ache that canal the blood of his veins. Occasionally , the shrill cry within him rises upwards to his cheeks and he remembers:

         Exactly the feeling to see his smile. 

         How it was to breath with him the same golden air. 

         What it meant to stargaze in another’s eyes. 

         The feeling came to him in the garage. Another racing weekend. The blossoms sway in the wind as the sun’s golden hue bless the earth below. Esteban excused himself to his private room as his phone begins to ring on the table. He knows without looking at his screen exactly who it is. 

        They’re apart of your soul, sprinkled into the material of your bones, a ghost of another time lingering across your shoulders 

 

----- p.g. -----

 

         The line begins to ring. He never expected him to pick up. It’s tiring, is it not? How the human body continues to endure and endure with hope and hope alone. It being the one thing to carry us towards the horizon. Pierre recalls how urgent Esteban seemed on his birthday. He was in a rush, filled with a very human desire for touch--for love. 

          In the room, you coiled your fingers in the fabric of his sweater. Both of you were seated on the edge of the bed. He searches for the right words to say. 

         And your heartbeat…

         Pulse. Pulse. Pulse. 

         Incessant as a drum as it anticipated the words on his tongue. 



----- e.o. -----

 

         The first time Pierre tried calling him, Esteban's fingers dripped with tears. 

 

         The second time, Esteban kept the conversation. 

 

         The third time, he didn’t even answer. 

 

         The fourth, he missed him. The dialogue fell into the trap of simple language and responses as Pierre pried into his life gently as a good friend . The air between them was stiff with regret, with depression and desire. 

 

         But the fifth? He had shut off his phone. 

 

         As the sixth…

 

         The seventh…

 

         And the eighth…

 

         Here we are at the ninth. It’s only early May after the long and slow beginning of spring. 

 

         The phone on Esteban’s bedside continues to ring. He lays on his back as the washed colors of the sky paint themselves over his ceiling. 

 

----- p.g. -----

 

         Pierre hankers for him to pick up more than anything. 

        Instead, he remembers how Esteban’s mouth brushed the corner of his lip and his careless, hungry breaths chiming forward just for you.  

 

----- e.o. -----

 

         He shuts his eyes as it continues to ring. Another and another. He would inquire him about simple things such as the weather until Pierre teases him an old man. They would laugh and Esteban would sense the smile in his voice. He’d watch the afternoon bleed into night without it ever feeling that a single minute had passed. He would hear the care, Pierre’s warmth and love giving him sensations of… home. Esteban would survive without the ache because he would know: you thought of me there

         But the line continues to ring. And he doesn’t move a muscle to answer it. 

 

----- p.g. -----

 

         A few more rings and it will be over. 

 

----- e.o. -----

 

         In a sharp, jerking movement, Esteban snaps to his phone. A human notion of fight or flight stealing his every movements. He was always taught to fight for what he wanted. 

 

----- p.g. -----

 

         Pierre doesn’t get angry often. But in that moment a million memories flashed before his brain. Gap toothed children with dreams wider than galaxy. Teenagers with stupid mistakes and determination stronger than any other. Friends… that and so much more. 

         And he misses him. 

 

----- e.o. -----

 

          He misses him. So, he decides to pick up. 

 

----- p.g. -----

 

         Before it can close to a ring, Pierre waits just a moment. Hope. That alone beckoning him from beyond. A sharp flash of anger swarms through him. 

          With hesitation, he ends the call.

 

----- e.o. -----

 

         Esteban answers. 

 

----- p.g. -----

 

         Pierre sets the phone down. 

 

----- e.o. -----

 

        There’s no one there and the call drops off. Esteban lays there, the receiver to his ear; silence the sole thing feeding the sniffing loneliness in the air. 

 

----- p.g. -----

 

         Pierre feels stupid for having tried. He wonders:

         Does he feel the silence between us?

         Each of our voices are laced with unspoken questions. 

         Please, come by, sit with me and ask me yours. 

         He steps away from the window, towards his dresser. Esteban rests in the foreground. Pierre’s first thought: he looks happy . Old friends looking to each other and nothing was more important. Where did it all go wrong?

 

----- e.o. -----

 

         Often, Esteban reflects back to the night he fled. How his chest heaved violently under the weight of his emotions as he crawled to Dorian’s house. He wants to throw his caution to the wind, apologize for his absence and laugh as they always did together. But then he thinks… to the balcony and the beautiful glance between Pierre and another. That he’d pressed his lips into Charles’ knuckles and tilted his face to kiss him. That Pierre held their hips as he had never done him... and every glance to Charles was as though he was the most priceless thing in the world. 

         I could never live with that

 

----- p.g. -----

 

        Pierre wants to move on with his life, even if it was the hardest thing. And he does. But he leaves the door open only a crack… just in case. Perhaps it’s hopeless. Yet, he will continue being fascinated with the prospect that one day Esteban will be there. That they can be children under a frozen, starry night observing everything rotating for them . He shifts their photograph to the back of his dresser, places another one in its place.

         Patiently. That’s how he’ll wait. 

         The door is still open a crack.

         Come find me when you’re ready. 

         The stars will still remember us.