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goodbye is not the end

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Cute, Pat thought. 

Pran is a framework of all things dainty, pretty, and perhaps feisty, too, if provoked. All the more reasons to fall in love with him, Pat assures. 

There is something extraordinary in the glint of Pran's eyes, the shine of his dimpled smile, the roughness of his calloused fingers that makes Pat's heart race, thunder, and rattle whenever and wherever his lover is near. This man right here, the love of his life, the epitome of his soul, renders him breathless and speechless with just a gentle touch on his cheeks, the faint flick on his chin, the slight raise of his eyebrow. It is all in those small details, the content grin when Pat finished the chicken curry Pran cooked for dinner, the surprised shrieks when Pat hugged him from the back after rugby practice, the stinging kick on his shin as he complained, you stink! Go and shower! Those little things might not bring value to others, but that makes Pran so endearing in Pat's point of view, so loveable, so worthwhile. Someone that Pat wants to protect from this entire world. Way beyond, if possible. 

Because deep down, at the back of his mind, Pat knows- the universe is not treating Pran with the kindness and tenderness he deserves. Pat wants to change that. A vow he made the day he realized his heart was beating solely for Pran- he will make it happen. Even if it is not forever, Pat figures, it can be now. 

His whole body somehow falls under a trance once Pran reels him into the spaces between his legs. The sensation is always numbing and welcoming, a much-needed confirmation that Pat's heart is still wildly beating, alive and well. Zaps of electricity course his set of veins when Pran touches the undone buttons of his red t-shirt, the tip of his fingers graze his chest. Pat looks at them, those fingers, and travels to his face. Lips pursed, focused, eyes darted on buttoning up Pat's shirt, trying to get the job done quickly as possible. 

It is silly, Pat admits. Maybe he is so in love with this former enemy of his. Or maybe Pat is still trying to figure out the hidden components of Prana, the nooks and crannies that fill the dents on his shoulder, the curve of his body, the slight twitch whenever he pokes him on the waist. It seems like he can never get enough of Pran. There is still so much to learn about him, so many things to engrave in his mind. Perhaps Pat is only making excuses, thinking of reasons to hold onto the notion of eternity, more justifications for them to stay on this beach. Here, a place where the past blurs and the present blares. This moment, now- the only valid reason for them to remain.

However, time has always been an evil antagonist in every supposedly happily ever after fairytale. And Pat knows their time is running out. If only he could turn back the clock, rewind those moments when the mumbles of separation were never so grotesque, the thought of letting Pran go concealed behind amused giggles and high-pitched laughter. It was beautiful; those days spent believing the world might not be so cruel to them. Pat has spoken too soon.

Now, it dawns on him, like ripples of water crashing on his feet, the gush of sea breeze, the morning sun, reality- a goodbye. Pat is never ready, but he needs to be, for Pran. 

He stops Pran from buttoning his shirt, holding onto the hands diligently working on his attire for their night shift. Pran stares at him, eyes growing wide, slightly confused. But Pat is too busy stroking his knuckles, edging the feel of a blank canvas in his memories, fearful if he will ever forget this after today ends. 

Pat looks up, meeting a set of eyes filled with stars. His heart comes to a halt. "Thank you," he says. Words tumble from his lips before he can stop them, too fast for his brain to predict what's next, what he should or should not say. 

Even more puzzled than before, Pran asks, "What are you thanking me for?"

A lot, Pat wants to say. But it is not enough. Pran deserves to know the wonders he makes Pat experience, the dreams and hopes he nurtures in his heart. So much more than the overrated, overused, often insincere thank you. It is hard when the person we love is the reason behind the sudden tongue-tied, the jumbled up thoughts, and the worrying loss of words; Pat has always had something to say. Not this time, it looks.

Mustering a small smile, Pat confesses, "For trying to make a silly guy like me happy." 

Pran wears that look again- a mixture of what are you saying? and why are you saying this? Pat knows them too well now, by heart, sight, senses, his existence. 

And Pat has the stupidest urge to caress Pran's hands again. He does.

Breathing in, he affirms, "I know that, sooner or later, we'll have to go back." 

He knows this all too well. Even when he suggested running away, Pat knew it would end up like this. It was just a brief escapade, his version of their fairytale. Pat tried to create a story with a happy ending for Pran, for them. Amid his trials, the dread loitering in Pran's eyes and heart went unnoticed. The innocent yearning of a mother's embrace, the comfort of a family, the homecooked meals and his safe four walls- by being here, Pat is taking them away from Pran. The things he cherishes, the people he loves, the memories he treasures so dearly. By being here, Pat is putting a stop to those components that shaped the Pran he loves. It breaks his heart once realization knock on his door. Pat can no longer afford to hurt Pran like this. 

Pat searches for the homey twinkle in Pran's eyes. There. Always so vivid. He smiles. "But I just want to stay for as long as we can." 

Leeching onto Pran, dragging him into this pointless mirage was once a great idea. Now, he comes to terms with reality, the annoying notions bugging him to sleep every night. Pat learns to accept. He needs to put an end to it. 

"Be with you for at least one more day." That is what I have always wanted. Pat swallows those words immediately. He does not intend to guilt-trip Pran with his scorching, foolish desire. It will torment him for a lifetime if he does. 

Pran nudges him briefly, faking the usual annoyance, but it does not reach his eyes this time, the blazing challenge. "What are you talking about?" he insists, tugging the sleeve of Pat's shirt, a way to distract the tears from falling. 

"Get dressed," Pran inhales a sharp, desperate breath. "The bar is opening soon."

Pat smirks at this. "Nobody works on their honeymoon," he should have told Pran it was one of his million excuses to make him stay. But now, Pat learns, Pran never planned to leave. He was trying too, in his quiet and keen and gentle nature, to make things work. Pat appreciates the gesture so much. 

"You never leave me, and you fight along with me. That makes me very happy," and it is only the truth that cascades from a pair of sinful lips. Two pilgrims meant to recite odes and prayers to this ethereal human being in front of him- Pran. 

And the world bleeds in golden hues, blue rays and green shades as a smile blooms there, on Pran's face. Dimples so deep that Pat wants to reside there, to etch his name with a peck or two. 

Tears pour from his eyes, subdued and silent, but Pat knows it is not because of despair. Gratitude, relief, freedom, love: all those sublime emotions. Only those. 

Inherently, Pat wants to wipe them away. 

The urge to protect him, hold him close and cradle his body in his arms stifles him to the gut. It is always endless, Pran's tears. He no longer wants Pran to confide in that cocoon of sadness alone. He wants Pran to release them all. Let it be buckets of tears shed today. For as long as Pran can taste the sweetness of joy and tranquillity again, Pat will stay by his side and watch him unravel those suffocating layers. One by one, without a miss. He will be here. He will not stop him anymore.


Nightfall penetrates through the closed windows and white blinds, casting a faded shadow at the corner of the room. Remnants of buzzing alcohol settle in the pit of Pat's stomach. The bitter taste now cleansed from his tongue with the help of minty toothpaste. But his mind, still a little clouded from the beer and Pran's sweet voice, from swallowing the monstrous urge to cry when the song came to an end. 

The moon, the stars mean nothing tonight, although Pran insisted it was beautiful. Why would Pat waste his time gazing at those stars in the sky when one is in front of him? Pran was astounding. He glowed even brighter than those silver spheroids. Possibly, Pran is a fireball. A humongous, vigorous, red force strikes the earth with a temperature of 5778 K. Whenever he touches Pat, his skin burns, and Pat likes the scorching sensation a bit too much. How did Pat survive the third-degree burn? No one knows. 

And now, when Pran is lying by his side, no longer radiating sparks of flame, Pat loves this version of Pran more than anything. 

They are facing each other, hands intertwined in between two pillows, a warm smile tugging Pran's lips, and a fond grin stretches Pat's lips, in-sync, tandem. 

The night air drapes their adjoined bodies with a pacifying cloak, sheltering them from the harshness of tomorrow, the uncertainty that it holds. Limbs tangled underneath a shared blanket, toes meeting toes, knees bumping knees, nose touching nose, and Pran is the first to laugh.

"Why are you laughing?" Pat inquires, finding himself trying to mirror the chuckle escaping Pran's plush lips.

"I-" Pran is out of breath, and the grip around his fingers tighten, and Pat gasps for air.

"I don't know," he answers, as simple as that.

Tonight, Pat is not curious to seek an explanation. He lets him be. It is better this way. No speculations needed, just facts and sincerity and endless giggles and airy pinches on the cheeks. 

When Pran is too tired to laugh, and Pat's fingers are now sore from all the pinching, they fall into the same whirlpool again- of wordless silence and mutual stillness. 

"Pran," he calls, breaking the fragile bubble surrounding them. Pran gazes at him, doe-eyes brimming with groundbreaking shades of silver, a residual smile inscribes on his face like a lifeline. 


"If you become a musician someday, can I be the first to listen to your album?"

Shock, a mixture of disbelief and obscurity paints Pran's face. He is laughing again, louder this time, more honest, cheery as he can ever be. As if everything Pat said was nonsensical. As if he is trying to address, of course, you can!

But Pran has always been the pain in the ass, a handsome and overly ambitious devil Pat hates loves so dearly. 

"You can," Pran clicks his tongue, quirking an eyebrow suggestively. "But it's not for free, though."

"How much are we talking, Mr Prana?"

Pran thinks for a while, totally immersed in his role. Pat surprises himself at the newly-discovered knowledge. How can he fall for him again when Pran obviously behaves like a jackass right now? 

"50 000 baht?"

"Shia, Pran!" he absentmindedly gapes. "Okay, I take back what I said!"

"Dumbass! By then, you're the CEO of your father's company! Can't you afford 50 000 baht for my album?" Pran retorts, emphasizing the word CEO and my, getting on Pat's nerves as he speaks.

"I still would've thought a thousand times before buying your album! You're unbelievable, Pran," laughter boils in his chest and launches to his throat, escapes mercilessly from his lips. "Oho, it looks like I need to work harder."

Pran pauses for a moment. And Pat does not say anything. Happiness dies down abruptly as soon it begins.

In this silence, Pat notices the mist in Pran's eyes. That haze mirrors the impromptu wetness in his eyes too.

It is too hopeful, whatever they are thinking right now. One day, someday, tomorrow oozes with nothing but apprehension. Dreadful serendipity is heavy on their shoulders, a burden that crashes their beating hearts into embers. Now, they have no place to hide. There is nowhere to run. 

Pat clutches Pran's hands anew, brings them close to his lips, kisses every knuckle, sprinkles love dust everywhere reachable. "Can't I get a discount?"

Pran is laughing again. How beautiful he looks right now. Does Pran know this? 

"Dumbass," he interjects, masking vexation. But his smile gives him out, and Pat takes this as a sign to inch closer. Their foreheads meet in the middle, gravity pulling him nearer to the centre of his world. Pran is his world. 

When tomorrow comes, even when they have to let go, Pran will always be his world. Nothing can ever change that. 

In the nonexistent gap between them, Pat crawls his way into Pran's heart for the nth time. He reaches out his free hand and softly caresses Pran's cheek, traces the bow of his lips, and rests on his bicep. "Pran," he murmurs, wanting to preserve this agile calmness for as long he can. 


Pat has so much to say, but he chooses this one sentence as his final confession. "I love you."   

He knows those three words is an understatement, an overly used endearment. I love you is not equivalent to the tumultuous sensation ripping his heart apart, the frantic chaos in his mind, and the aching goosebumps forming on his skin. To Pat, I love you is a door that opens to deeper, more complex, incoherent feelings. If I have a lover, I will always let them win. I can be the heartbroken one. I want to hug you. Can I kiss you?

No words can ever give justice to these feelings he has for Pran. Words often tell their own story, but Pat finds no refuge in them now. He wishes to wreck his brain and think of better ways of saying goodbye, one that will hurt them less, a memorable farewell for them both. Nothing comes to mind other than those eight letters. 

Tonight, seemingly their last night together, Pat knows it is enough. 

Pran continues to look at him, and Pat does the same. He is greedy, indeed. Pat knows this too well. He tries to remember everything about Pran, his features, his smell, his taste, the feel of his body against his, like a wild animal hunting down its prey. 

He kisses Pran, gentle on the lips, soft on his cheeks, ardent on the tip of his nose, and fond, long, on his forehead. Pat is lucky the room is dark. At least Pran will not notice the steady tears dampening the pillow underneath his head. 

Pran is beautiful. Pat is so lucky to have him in his life. Even if it is only for a while, it is not forever- what is forever, anyway? A brash, crude word made by someone who never experienced separation and heartbreaks. 

But forever in Pran's eyes, Pat believes, is nothing but beauty and glory and eternal. 

"Let's sleep," Pat suggests, clearing his throat. "We have a long trip ahead tomorrow."

Pran does not say anything. Pat understands everything he wants to say. 

Pat turns his body away from Pran, facing the wall on his right, only to allow the stream of tears to pool elsewhere. He does not want Pran to see him like this. 

Warmth soaks into the pores of his skin, flush against his back. Pran snuggles closer, hands encircled around his waist, lips pecking his clothed clavicle and up to his neck. Pran stops there, plants a long kiss, and Pat feels it. Cold drops. His heart crumbles.

In the overwhelming quietude, Pran whispers, "I love you, Pat."

A beautiful goodbye.

Nightfall continues to engulf them in tender pats. And tomorrow shall bring no harm to Pran's heart, not anymore, Pat prays. Because both of them know, goodbye is not the end. A goodbye- an awaiting, hopeful, precious hello. Someday, sometime, it will happen again; Pat and Pran, together, in a world where they can exist without numbing fear. One day, eventually, fate will bring them back in each other's arms. Until then- perhaps, it is for the best. Goodbye