3 min

Cut-loose memories

Will has no reason to care

Credit: Xtra West files

At the first petty onset of fall, Will’s heart turned auburn in sympathy. He felt romantic; felt like an actor munching leaves beneath his shoes. He noticed a strange desire that took up residence in his gut-for caramel apple cider, men wearing wool knit scarves, and the everlasting comfort of cock beneath corduroy trousers.

And there sat Geoffrey, all speckled with half-light beneath the oaks, reading-what was it?-Keats, of course. Geoffrey ate a white peach and chewed philosophically. He tucked a stray lock of hair behind his ear and his eyes flickered upward as Will approached.

“Allo,” said Will, collapsing beside him. “Wanna fuck later on?” This, he intoned with disenchanted and ironic distance.

“Sex?” pronounced Geoffrey, as though it were a new and unstable theorem. “I don’t know.”

But here was the genius of the aloof: “Only joking, you know,” said Will. “I wouldn’t just ask like that.”

“Oh, you can,” replied Geoffrey, shutting the book with a dull thump. “I don’t mind forthrightness.” A squirrel hurried down the oak, presumably to better listen in, and froze there, upside-down on the bark above Geoffrey’s head. “I just don’t know. Well . . . should we?”

“I don’t see why not,” goaded Will. Or was it now about pride more than lust? He swallowed and massaged the odd constriction at his throat.

“No.” Geoffrey fed a bit of sandwich to the grateful squirrel. “Nah, I’d rather not. Lots of reading to do.”


“It’s nothing against you,” insisted Geoffrey, rising, wiping bits of cut grass from his thighs. “I can never sleep with the same guy more than two or three times.”

“Mmm,” said Will. “No. I know what you mean.” But he stared angrily at the squirrel, which, sensing danger, retreated to the safety of the upper branches.

“You don’t believe me? Ohh,” and he picked up Will’s hand, dropping a smile into it as you drop clothes in a hamper. “It’s nothing to do with you. Honest.”

And Will saw it was true: he had nothing to do with it. No reason to care except expectation. No glue held these two, save societal mores. And they were above all that.

Geoffrey made his excuses and shuffled off to class, his bum mockingly outlined by threadbare pockets. Was that Will’s underwear, poking out crimson beneath?

That was the moment when Will turned angrily, blindly, on his heels. He made his way into the Student Union Building, climbed a set of broad stairs, and sat down at the meeting he’d been dreading all week. The meeting Ryan had insisted he come to.

The Pride UBC gathering had hardly wrenched to life when Will-unshaven, bleary-eyed, and gripping a take-out cup of coffee-entered the room.

“Oh hello, my dear, finally decided to play with others?” Ryan was perched nimbly on the edge of his executive swivel seat, pad on knee and pencil raised at an ambitious angle.

“You know him?” guffawed a boi-dyke whilst burrowing into the corner of a dilapidated couch.

“Roommates we are,” nodded Ryan, sagely. “Pay no attention,” he then cooed, patting a wooden stool. “Come sit by me.”

The boi-dyke eyed Will’s disposable cup with a malice normally reserved for murderers and rapists. But refrained from further comment.

And the meeting edged on, through a labyrinth of protocol and strained politeness, as the treasurer nay-sayed everything, the social-coordinators shirked their responsibilities, and the secretary desperately pleaded for the incorporation at further meetings of a Ceremonial Talking Stick.

The boi-dyke and Will, finding themselves exiting in the same direction across campus, settled into a meaningless, mute, contempt for one another, until Will could stand it no longer. He touched her on the shoulder. “What’s your problem?”

“You don’t remember me, do you?”

“Do I know you?”

But she was gone, her corduroy coat billowing behind her, as she vanished around a manicured hedge. Was it someone he had hurt sometime? Did Will insult her in a freshman class, years ago? Perhaps he even dated her in high school? The world of women was foreign now, he blankly acknowledged. There was no memory to dig through, since he had moved away from memory two years ago. Coming out had necessitated memory loss.

But there was something else, dark and waving, strapped onto those cut loose memories-people.