3 min

What was his name?

Will becomes an automaton

Credit: Xtra West files

Affection would shake all nervous and thin if Will but looked at it directly. In the eyes, say. In these comically blue eyes beside him on the pillow.

It had always been so. Affection (be it love of men, or boys) was made up of shadows and unintelligible words. Adults, husky men he leaned into for support, would go queasy. Gods fell. He turned to inspect affection, and it rabbited away like dark from a lantern.

That said, Will was never one to pass up good sex. A brief ejection of lust-with, say, this blonde thing waking up beside him-could not run from Will’s gaze. You don’t run the morning after. You make your mild excuses; you shrug, and leak out of the room.

Lust, unlike the timid creature Love, was always on the offensive. This blonde boy-what was his name?-could not be hurt, so he could not hurt Will. The blonde boy yawned.

“Wake up,” said Will. “You smell.”

Blonde boy, unused to Will’s notions of Love vs Lust, did not realize he had been militantly slotted into the latter camp, and put on a startled expression.

“Oh, I … I’m.…” He went naked to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Will watched the hairy bum jiggle with the force of this boy’s verve.

The boy returned, presently, to Will’s bedside and stood starkly, quietly there, preferring not to reenter the confusion of damp, twisted sheets. “You’re different in the morning,” noted Blonde Boy. He brushed up his hair.

“How so?” asked Will. “Uglier? Do I have something in my teeth?”

“Nothing in your teeth. No.” A roaring train went by, full of fascinated passengers pressed against their tiny windows, mittens raised, sweaters doubled up at the neck. Blonde Boy shivered in the growing heat of late morning and went to the window. Only a roasted garden, no train. Strange.

“You’re different, too,” offered Will.

“Different how?”

“You look paler, I guess.”

But what to do in morning light? By now, now on the verge of his third year at uni, could Will roll over and grin in the mornings anymore? He shrugged at the unspoken quandary, farted unapologetically, and scratched his way into the shower.

He turned the water up a few degrees higher than comfortable. Yawned yellowing teeth. Peeked between the curtains at Blonde Boy, now anxiously searching for his briefs. How many mornings after were there? In the stock of two years since coming out, how many failed attempts to disappear?

And was it himself who was meant to disappear? He decided to lather twice-the riddle required a second shampoo. Or, rather, did Will long to annihilate his bedmate’s personality? Kill the sexed creature he had ensnared with his half-hearted looks and lazy turns at stolen cigarettes?

“Your turn,” said Will, stepping into a towel, stepping up to the fog of the bathroom mirror. He glanced at the blonde’s tired cock as he made his way past, excusing himself. As Will shaved, he watched the blonde leap to the side of the water and yelp each time he rinsed his razor.

But who was here now, emerging from the shower? A paunchy boy. A boy with the red freckling of acne, still rubbing his chin. Blonde hair, blue eyes, a faint pink rash on the torso where cum had dried overnight. A boy.

Now the blonde was drinking his water. Now asking with disgusting politeness for toast and jam.

Now the morning fuzz had burnt off, the blonde turned milder still. An unremarkable boy, cluttering a morning when, well, there were things to get done. He had to register for classes. He had so much to do. He stood by the door, smiling to say come-along-now with a glance at the steady tail of the kitchen’s vintage Kitty Cat clock.

The blonde shouldered a backpack and bit his lip, sidestepping towards the door.

“So we won’t be seeing each other again?”

“What do you think?”

Something then made this blonde wish to surprise Will. He grew angry in a breathy leap. “I think the world is more complicated than your bitterness; that’s what I think!” His nose pinched up and Will, despite himself, fell madly in love. “In addition,” growled the blonde, “I think someone should tell you not to grab onto ears so tightly. It hurts.” Exeunt.

Will, alone in the doorway, noticed the air outside was thick with heat and dust. Will, at a loss for words, laughed shortly, or perhaps coughed. It’s hard to tell. “Sorry!” he called, finally, to no one in particular.