Isak was nervous and fidgety during breakfast. He was happy that mom and dad were having one of their not-a-fights again, because that meant he could fly under the radar. He just sat there eating his cereal and yogurt and berries, barely tasting anything. He had no palate for anything but lips anymore.
Dad left for work without finishing his breakfast. Mom didn’t return to the table either. She was wiping the counter that had obviously been already wiped minutes ago, and her lips were moving in a silent chant. A prayer, or bible verses, most likely. Isak looked at her. She looked so fragile. Isak had seen the same kind of fragility in Even, and now he couldn’t look at his mother like he used to.
“Mom?” Isak asked quietly. His mother stopped wiping the counter.
“Yes, dear?” She pushed her hair behind her ear. She didn’t look at Isak, and that’s how Isak knew she was almost crying.
“I love you. And I’m not mad at you or anything.”
Mom didn’t move for a moment. Then she kept wiping the counter.
“I love you too, son. I love you so much.”
Isak swallowed a lump from his throat. It felt so bad to keep secrets from his parents, but he knew they couldn’t take them. Sometimes Isak just wanted to cuddle up with mom and let her stroke his hair and make everything okay again.
It was so hard to not be a kid anymore.
“I think that counter is clean, mom. Won’t you sit with me and finish breakfast?”
Mom looked over her shoulder at the table. She smiled at Isak, and Isak recognised the sadness in her smile. She knew she wasn’t alright, and that broke her heart.
“That sounds really nice.”
They finished breakfast in silence. Isak tried to come up with a conversation, but all his efforts withered away quickly. But it was nice. To sit with mom for a breakfast, in the sunny kitchen, just like normal people. For a moment they were just a normal family, with a normal mother and a normal son.
“Can I have dinner at Jonas today? They’re having a barbecue.”
“Of course. Your father is working late anyway, and I have a meeting with the committee.”
Isak wasn’t sure which committee mom was talking about. A church thing, that was almost certain. Isak decided that was enough, and he didn’t need to ask for details. He didn’t really care, either. He had the whole day to spend with Even.
It hadn’t been officially established that Isak’s privileges and curfew were back to normal again, but Isak was going to take his chance. He packed his backpack and walked to the front door. He put his shoes on.
“I’m going out, mom!”
“Have fun, sweetie. Back by ten!”
“Okay. Love you!”
“Love you too!”
As soon as Isak had closed the door and walked to the street the comfort of playing normal was taken from him. He knew how empty mom’s words would feel later, when she was raising the cane above him. That day would come. He would slip up, or mom would have a fit, and she would get upset. But it wasn’t today.
Today Isak was going to see Even. And tonight he was going to see Jonas. He really was insatiable, wasn’t he? Isak blushed at himself and hurried his steps. He had to see Even. He needed to be light. He needed to see light.
Isak stopped behind Even’s door. He remembered it closing yesterday, and how much it had hurt to see. He remembered what he had said. Even had to close the door so Isak could knock on it today. He smiled a bit and skipped the doorbell. He knocked.
Even opened the door. He looked happy to see Isak. His whole being lit up, and Isak knew now that it was obvious Jonas had known about his feelings. He must have lit up just like Even did whenever he saw Jonas. He probably still did. Isak smiled at Even, a bit shy. He shouldn’t have been thinking about Jonas right now, should he?
“Hey. Come in.” Even took Isak’s hand and pulled him inside. The door closed and they were alone in the world again. Just him and Even, and their love for each other. Isak followed Even and both blushed and frowned at the pile of laundry on the floor.
“They smell like you. I slept there last night. My back is killing me.”
Isak looked at Even, grinning.
“May I suggest we make the bed smell like me, then?”
Even raised his eyebrows and hummed approvingly.
“That’s a genious plan. You’re pretty and smart!”
“And you’re fucking gorgeous.”
“You slept in a pile of clothes instead of taking them to bed with you.”
“Wellllll. The bed is still full of stuff.”
Isak peeked in over Even’s shoulder. Yes. All the stuff was still there. Well, then.
“Better get to work, huh? I want us naked on that bed as soon as possible.” Isak couldn’t help blushing at his boldness. But he was being honest. He really, really wanted to get naked with Even. He wanted to get closer to Even, to infuse with his skin.
That suggestion got Even moving. Isak had to explain to him two times that no, he couldn’t just take the biggest box and shove everything in there, because they worked pretty hard yesterday to organize all this stuff.
Finally the bed was cleared. And Isak was hungry. Yet another delay for the naked time, but it would be more fun with a full belly.
“I already told you, cheese toasties is fine.”
“Are you sure? I can run to the shop real quick.”
“For the last time, make me cheese toasties! Now!”
Even chuckled, but he obeyed. He made both of them three sandwiches each, and served them with water. They ate sitting on the floor, in a spot of sunlight, and it was the best lunch Isak remembered ever having.
It could have been like this, always. Isak could have just moved in here. But he remembered his mother wiping the counter, and tucked away his thoughts of leaving. He had this. He had the whole summer. There was no hurry to decide on anything.
Isak wolfed down his toasties and licked his fingers clean. Even was done shortly after him, and suddenly the air was filled with electricity. It felt thick and tingly, and it was making Isak a bit nervous. It was stupid, really. All he wanted was to get naked with Even, but now that the time was at hand he was nervous about it.
“What?” Even asked softly. Isak blushed and pressed his chin.
“Nothing. It’s stupid.”
“No, no. Remember, I’m the stupid one.”
Even’s joke made Isak smile. And look up at him.
Even was smiling at him. His smile made him squint a bit, and it was adorable.
“Me too.” Even’s fingers creeped up to Isak’s hand and took it. “But it’s okay. We don’t have to do anything. Naked or otherwise. I just want to be with you.”
“Maybe.” Isak licked his lips slowly. “Maybe we could just take our shirts off?”
Even agreed. They got up, put their plates into the sink and then Isak grabbed the hem of Even’s shirt. He peeled it off Even slowly, appreciating the skin as it was revealed to him, bit by bit. Even did the same with Isak’s shirt, and then he took Isak’s hand.
They walked to the bed without a word. Even lied down on his back, and Isak crawled up against him. He rested his body, skin on skin, against Even and kissed him. Finally he kissed Even, and with that kiss all his nervousness was melting away. He was safe.
He was home.