Offside. Chapter 1

Clutching the last rays of sun for the day feels like plucking out daisies and wishing for someone to end up loving you at the end of the day. And nothing feels eternal, everything feels like it’s dying and somehow everyone around feels calmer about the incoming doom of colder weather, everyone talking about how great it’s going to be once the fields will be covered in snow, when the lakes are frozen and the fucking ponies will look horrified as ever. I roll over onto my stomach so that the houses are in view and I dread the passing summer, which was all mostly tucked in football practice. In the end it’s something like all you’ve got. The surroundings feel very agoraphobic, as there seems to be no end in sight and there’s kilometres until the nearest big town with a grocery store. It all becomes either a question of the bus or nagging about the car or a usual bike ride, because who doesn’t mind killing around two hours here and back when the sky isn’t pitch black and seems to have forgotten how the night looks.

It’s about always having the same friends, which will gossip and hanging out at those who have the loosest parents which will allow alcohol, just because their parents had done the same and then it’s all about making alcohol loosen tongues and sometimes it’s bitter, sometimes it becomes a sour discussion of ‘did my ex even love me anymore or did they ever?’ Sometimes it’s a very bitter remark and a few odd looks, but by the end it’s just about drowning one’s misery and my tongue isn’t better than theirs and we just remind of small circles of society which lie in the neighbouring houses of perhaps the whole county.

The end of summer is like losing love. It happens so slowly and miserably, that when you look back you ask yourself if you were ever in love and it’s not even something you want to think of. It will make you think of love you’ve even long lost. It’s full of regrets. I roll back onto my back, so I can see the sky and I feel all the distractions of the weather arrange my thoughts in a chaotic order, allowing nothing to properly be thought of, because all is a deja vu and all answers were gotten last time, when I thought of an ex and I asked about it out loud and that had been enough.

Because someone else’s drunk haze can be clarity and belief for me. And everything else will be a nuisance. I lay and watch the sky, how the clouds run fast with the tint becoming grayer and grayer and even some tears strike down from the sky, scratching the surface of the grass, but I pay no mind, until I finally hear some thunder and I decide that even if I were to play football in the rain, that gives no motivation for anything else. I walk back to the house, away from the lake, watching it and wondering how would it even feel to be struck down by lightning while rowing if that would even happen. I think about even taking the boat for a while and while I stand thinking, the rain stops and I just decide to kill time inside.

I wonder if roomming with people is just as bad as with parents, where you don’t even drop by to say hello, just wander in and out, politely stating it at the beginning of the day during breakfast and the rest is just formality, where I’m supposed to behave and bring good grades, which sometimes doesn’t happen and as the years start rolling by, I don’t even know where does the rest go. I don’t like thinking about the future, when the bubble ends of being in the same household. It’s not that I don’t want to move out, it’s that I don’t know what I’ll do at all.

As I get back to my room, being on the unmade bed depresses me, staring at the empty ceiling with a few cracks. It reminds me of the age of the last time we had everything refurbished and all I know is that if I count aloud enough, it’ll be time to get ready for the bus. I allow myself to slip away and soon it’s time to pack, shoving the football shoes into the backpack and changing gingerly into the sports gear, reminding of an impending winter. I don’t even bother to say goodbye, just not to interrupt any word which could be said from the reality TV show my parents are watching to kill time, like the rest of us. Neither do I ask for a ride into town.

I leave, walking slowly to the bus stop, looking around and mourning the death of summer for sure. Even if it’s been a few days which had taken summer away already and locked it, it feels enough of a reason to be wearing all black and mourning. Once I’m out of sight, I take out a pack of cigarettes from my backpack and soon enough I get the lighter, flicking against the cigarette a few times before it catches fire and I can breathe easily. I turn around, just to make sure that I’m really alone among the trees. It’s just the melancholy chasing me.

The bus is late as usual, but I am no longer going through my cigarette, so I just have to kill time kicking whatever had been left on the road from the trees or discarded items, looking around to make sure that no cars are around, as I even kick a lost registry plate. I wonder who had lost it for a brief while until the bus arrives and when it does, I look around briefly, so that I won’t be disturbed in the middle of it, but the rest of my team rides different buses or gets a ride or just bikes their way into town.

In buses usually I sulk thinking of the long lost, how this year it’ll be different with Steven not showing up on the other side of the fence, holding it and watching the game unravel and sometimes supportively say something when my team would score, but it rarely happens that I score, so I would understand his boredom from watching a midfielder, but he still would. My parents would show up back when I was a kid to the bigger ones, but that soon enough changed. I dreamt of taking the train to a bigger team, but some things just don’t happen and I still enjoy it deeply, probably happy of living in a brief bubble which will break by the end of this year.

Sometimes I feel so idle that I contemplate ending everything, as I either row in the lake or sit by it, lying and feeling lazy enough to stretch my arm and feel the water. But I never have the guts and somehow I manage to get by day by day, even if I have no motivation to go forwards.

I have a desire to get another cigarette as I get off, but instead I just make myself go towards the field, slowly increasing my pace, to make sure that I’m not late and that I don’t have to kick off my shoes as I’m walking. I look back, chewing on my bottom lip, to see that indeed my bus being late as usual made me the last one in most likely, and anxiety rises a bit. When I just started, I was aware of the bus being constantly late so I would pester my parents to drive me here. I was much younger as well, and I hated being behind in anything, even if I wasn’t the brightest student in school. I was terrified, so I would study and now that fear is hanging above me again and since it’s the last year it’s even worse, with the pressure of everyone getting in somewhere and I would just avoid the subject with my parents.

There were some rumours here and there about people scouting our team if we were good enough, but sometimes I was so scared that I didn’t want anything to work out, I just wanted to lay in the grass, hit by someone and allow the pain absorb my body and just keep watching the guys screaming at each other and somehow, nothing would change. That’s what I wanted.

I wanted to be left alone, sometimes I didn’t even want to play.

I keep walking, as I hear someone’s fast footsteps behind me. I turn around to see a rather tall guy with curly hair. If I were him, I would look around to make sure the confused stare is aimed at me, but instead he knows that it’s aimed at him.

“Hey, hold on.” And he motions to his own backpack, as if hinting that he might have something in it that would be my interest. I pause and wait for him to catch up. The tall guy just stretches his hand and points at my football shirt. “I didn’t get to change yet, but I got it done.”

And he reaches for his backpack and right under the shoes, I see the bright orange colour of our team on his shirt. I blink, realizing that the striker and goal keeper indeed moved on, one went to become a doctor and the other went into economics or some other crap, which only made me ponder how come they even liked football in the first place. I kind of pictured everyone else just as lost as I am. At least the guys who I talked with on the team were like that, quiet and frankly only loud about who was better, Messi or Ronaldo. He grins at me, but I seem far less excited than he had expected.

“I’m Johnny.” I glance at his shirt and indeed it does say Johnny, which makes me ponder what would his last name be and how come he decided to push his first name on the shirt.

“I’m Robbie.” I say and think of a stupid comment, just watching him curiously. After all it is another guy on our team and even if putting football asides, it’s better to have another guy to think over, even if it will be a solid evening only, it will be at least something and have some quick play of whether he could be queer. Johnny shakes my hand rather firmly, but all I do is start walking and he does so as well, without a need to catch up. I start feeling tense all of a sudden, just because there is someone new.

We start getting closer to the field and it’s a mixture of guys already in their gear, while others are changing into their shoes and everyone seems to have decided to show up earlier besides us and one more, I believe. Someone could’ve just gotten lost in the same predictable streets of the town or on the way driving from a smaller town. We approach them as even the coach seems excited about the new striker, everyone quieting their bickering and eyes on. But it wouldn’t be a bunch of assholes playing football if one wouldn’t have opened his mouth.

“So you’ve met the queer then.” And word spreads quickly, maybe it had even been my mom who started the whole gossip round, saying that Steven was over and we were making out on the bed, which had her catching us. Then that lead to awkward conversations where I stated that I might possibly not like girls after all. There was just a sigh from them, as if they were disappointed in a gay son. It was better than what I had expected or what had been uttered from the mouths of few or the looks I’d get from the parents as if it were contagious.

“Hey, what did I tell you, we’re all tolerant here. It’s football, not some heterosexual division.” The coach quickly picked it up, but the problem is that the damage is done, I’ll be known as the queer again, just because this Judas over here had decided not to keep his shitty mouth closed. It’s not like he meant much harm, but it’s really a question of how can you not filter what you speak? I just bite my lip and give him a pissed off look, to which Judas Paul shrugs and I look back at Johnny, who seems to be dazing out while staring at me. I don’t even know where he’s from. But instead he snaps out of it, probably due to politeness. It’s not like we talked even. He does slightly open his mouth to say something, but instead the coach catches up and starts telling us to warm up even if the goal keeper isn’t here and I can still feel Johnny staring at me as if I were an animal in a zoo. Well, the local queer.

Here we go, story number 2! I’ve started growing more and more into football recently and I’ve been toying with the idea of writing about football players for a long while now. I lived in the small time at the moment when I started writing this story and overall, I mused about how it would be to take such a claustrophobic setting for a teenager. Also I took experiences of a guy I had a crush on a while back, who told me how it was to grow up like that since I’ve lived my life in many different places and when you have a crush on someone, frankly everything they’ll say is fascinating and it inspired me to continue this, rethinking the conversations I had.

football pitch soccer pitch


Saudade. Chapter 7

I wish there was some actual cure for my anxiety even if at this point I understand that I should be the one challenging my feelings and thoughts. No medicine can cure thinking when I’m driving myself up the wall with my own thinking. It’s the way I do it that is bothersome.

I engaged in some brief talk, which I won’t recall now, about the weather, about how hot and nice Brazil is and maybe even mentioned how you and his partner were suffering under the snow, obviously, while we ended up in some slice of paradise, because even scorching heat is better than snow. Maybe the small talk would tire you? But it was really just that, as we slowly walked back to the hotel and even bumped into some drunk underage teenagers, but I don’t think they care much about ID here, at least that’s the impression I always get. It’s always the strict parents who try to get to them. I don’t particularly feel horny, I feel drained and the desire to sleep in David’s arms or him in my own is overwhelming and intoxicating, frankly. I remember how we started sleeping all wrapped up and then we would just cuddle, but in the beginning we would arrange our faces so that we wouldn’t end up touching the other’s breath. Sometimes that bothers me, it always bothers me that the love becomes domestic and it drives me crazy because I always want love to be on the forefront.

And there’s always the wrong memories, the ones which should be hidden now, but I remember how he would ignore me and not reply for days sometimes even when we were dating for no good reason. He would always make it sound like it was just too difficult and I couldn’t understand what was wrong with the times. Maybe all of this was a mistake, but then we’re not fully involved right now and how much do people really change? How many mistakes have we both committed? What about the main one?

We head back to his room again and start kissing. I don’t think it will escalate, no matter how hungry they feel. It makes my head dizzy, as then we just decide to flick through the channels which are all in Portuguese besides some news channels, which just show a kaleidoscope of how fucked up everything is according to the news, which never discuss anything properly. It’s odd to know that everything is fabricated these days. But then when has it not been? News always made sure to make people panic horrifically. Because only fear can make people move forwards into any regime and thinking.

I wonder about our silence, because we would be leaving soon. The only event was the wedding. It was never supposed to be some super long getaway. I feel awfully tired that I start falling asleep and when he turns off the mumbling Portuguese I am barely awake.

The problem about having anxiety is that it manages to seep through dreams and drip onto them, making the dream a bit long panic attack. Not only they don’t make sense, but it doesn’t help relax at all. I keep thinking about how it was to discover who I was somehow and how I slept around. I had told my parents that I was a gay man on top of being trans and the notion of them finding out that I was literally sleeping around with strangers because there was a thrill, scared me. I didn’t want to be judged further and frankly on bad days I still struggle with what I’ve done somehow. I just look at my own parents and everyone else who happens to be monogamous and puts sex and love on the shelf. I never wanted to be like that, I never understood why should one put that away. So it becomes a question whether I should be doing that too in order not to be judged? And now I was sleeping with my ex and frankly we didn’t even use protection because I just felt like it.

I didn’t know what else to say or how to calm me down, because I never could. I would just continue judging me through life for everything I’ve done. My desire to open up was something I was desperately ashamed of and I tried to do my best to remain monogamous because everyone else was. And writing all of this down should be helping, but I’m still doing it.

I was now awake.

I looked up to stare at a sleeping David with the harsh lulls from the TV. Maybe I should just leave? Sometimes I wonder if I should listen to my intrusive thoughts, and what else have I not heard now? And sometimes I would be the one to break relationships, was that going to be the case now as well? What future did we even hold with being in an actual engagement with someone else, someone who I loved deeply? What about David? I was shaking even if it was ridiculously hot. Would I leave? Should I leave?

I moved a bit too suddenly and David woke up.

He started stroking my trembling arms.

“I’m leaving.” He looks at me wide eyed and confused. I need to clarify. “I’m leaving the city, I’m moving. I always wanted to get out of there.”

I never even allowed myself to think much of it. I know that I’m a terrible mess. David seems a bit calmer, but still worried. He’s lost me before and I had declined him when he offered to get back together once. Maybe the things I’ll never ask will be enough for me to forget him entirely and for good.

“Why didn’t you say anything sooner?” I have issues. I just shrug, looking away before he puts his hand in my hair. Maybe we became each other. Maybe love makes a mutation of the other in me.

“I don’t want to lose you again.” He says.

“You already did.” I swallow. I shouldn’t have even put his hopes up. I lower my head. I’m a disgrace. I have no idea how is this supposed to be relaxing in any way. He didn’t do anything this time. I grab his hands. “You have a girlfriend and I’m engaged.”

He stares at me, lost. I’m sudden and harsh, just like he once was. Is this some deep rooted revenge? But then he gradually pushed every domino to fall before they all caught up in front of each other. And we barely talked over dinner. Is that all we had to say after all these years?

I wanted to leave the room and I did leave it eventually, I kept thinking of you. We ended our conversation there and just like always, he never pushed it, as if he ever respected my decision but I guess he did. My whole body was still shaking as I closed the door and slowly made my way back into my room, already knowing that I wouldn’t be able to talk to you in this state. My brain was silent with no pop music blasting, all I could hear was my own heavy breathing and stare at the done bed.

I grabbed my computer, opened my e-mail and proceeded to write this, as long as it was fresh in my mind.

This closing chapter ended up being shorter than the rest, but it closes everything and now I can finally talk freely.

I wanted the boyfriend to be left nameless, anonymous even, regardless that Allan spoke of him often and spoke of how they had met. I wanted him to just be there, a presence really and end it without knowing what the reply ever is.

It’s really bizarre to put everything to rest. Also, as I kept writing I kept asking myself well, this is what’s going to happen, won’t it? I get cold feet very often and this was just a version of myself which would do such a crucial mistake in his life. I had originally planned it differently, but as the story progressed the more I saw that Allan was getting cold feet.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and a new story will be published from next Friday as always.

Saudade. Chapter 6

I had wanted to ask you the same question once, how you felt about the world when I knew that you check the news daily, but you never let it affect you and you don’t talk much about it to me because you know that I can get emotional. I speak too much truth, I don’t make anything fiction. I eventually blow all the truth out so that my whole body aches from so much exhaustion and distortion from normality.

We stare at each other in silence, before looking away and knowing that the topic is really closed, I could always open it, but I don’t. On the background there’s a football game, but I don’t know the teams to root for either even if I can guess which team is supported since everyone is wearing matching stripy shirts and last time I had been here I had a guy flirt with me as he would tell me things about the team I had long forgotten. We had hooked up which looking back wasn’t the wisest idea but sometimes danger just slips past the fingers.

“Looks like we’re the unaware foreigners.” I laugh at him as people boo the other team. David nods and maybe we had always held the same silence we hold now.

“Did you think of me?” He asks, basking in some self aware question. The question stalls me for a while, because I did think of him, but not as often, since I started dating you. I tell him that and he just nods, wondering himself probably why had we decided to drag ourselves under some passionate seal to begin an affair.

“I know that you thought of me.” I take his hand, only wondering now if it’s really safe enough, but I’m under those nights and stars where you let anything slip by and risk it all. I’ve already risked it all with you for frankly no good reason besides igniting a long gone passion. My mind is going blank now and I should probably sleep, but the more time I take writing this letter the more things I will forget and start making up the holes I won’t recall. So I have to keep writing somehow, with everything I can recall, just to make my end of the bargain fair even if we never agreed.

Maybe there is really nothing to talk about and this is the morning after which comes with a crazy bitter taste. Where does one even start pouring their soul out? It’s worse because there is always a chance of leaving, just apologizing and that would be it. But maybe we should both hold onto it for the plain sake that it’s just a few days and then we would see what happens, but this is something which drags me with fear. I don’t want to go back, my whole body is destroyed with everything that has been happening and my own mind is not just my enemy, but my poison.

Maybe the hatred is slowly unravelling itself and I truly have all the answers now and I can turn around in my sleep, knowing that I’ve been enough. But I don’t leave and neither does he. I also feel like we’re both barely holding from connecting to the Wi-Fi and checking our phones while the rooted for team tries to score. Eventually he pulls his phone out and I just look around, in a fucking sea of stripy red. He does make me snap out of thinking, though.

“Do you want a photo? I mean, when are we going to meet up in Brazil again?” And as he says it I remember a bitter memory where he wouldn’t give me the photos of us together, but I smile regardless for the photo. I should ask him instantly to give me the photo for old time’s sake.

“Can I get it, as well?” He nods, probably not even recalling that. Then we have an awkward pause were we both feel very aware that we don’t have each other’s e-mail or any mean of communication, I had made sure that no one could find me besides from looking at my left over friend’s comments and even then, I tried to comment as less as possible for such reasons. We do a brief staring contest, before I take his phone and enter my e-mail with a bit of trembling fingers. Now, he’ll be able to contact me if all goes wrong and my mood changes rapidly each second even. Now, all the thrill has shifted to fear and some doomed love. I won’t deny that I still love him, but maybe it’s all because when I loved I was young and stupid? Who do I love now? Which memories do I even hold?

“Can I ever reach you through it?” David asks and I take a while to reply, as I stare at my own screen, as if the photo would somehow never arrive. I tend to remember things sometimes and once I do, I get bitter like a grandpa.

“Yeah, of course.” And I wait for him to ask for my Facebook now.

“What do you use even?” He asks me, taking a gulp from his own drink. “I mean, from the social media?”

I pretend to think for a brief while, simply because I always get scared before giving them out.

“Yeah.” I pause. “I have nearly everything actually, some of them I end up using, some of them are just… there.”

Like Twitter.

He raises his eyebrows as an indication for me to continue, to reveal any other method he could contact me through. I ponder about it for a while, not too long though, not enough not to make it impolite. I skim through my phone, decide that Facebook could be impersonal enough but it has old photos and that’s it before I had discovered myself properly. I don’t even know what to do, I could give Instagram which has far too many selfies for its own good. I think about it too much, because frankly everyone is a block away by the end of the day.

“Facebook or Instagram?” I ask, possibly regretting that he would say something like throw both at me.

“Both is good.” I guessed it as he says it. I regret asking that for a bit, but I give him both of my usernames, since Facebook holds a fake name as well for the time being until I decide that I’m mature enough to reveal my real name online. I waited for him to add me back so that I could quickly skim through the photos and even caught a glimpse of his girlfriend’s hair and face. He could see you there as well, pissed drunk since we never changed. I noticed his face change once he saw you, how probably natural we looked and how I was happy there and about to break us apart. Then he most likely realized that we were still fucking as of now, so his face relaxed and shifted to Facebook, I’m guessing and browsed that for a bit and I did the same act. We stayed even more silent. I should be honest with you at this point, because then you know what’s been going on.

I’ve always spoken to him so much about what I had been reading, because then depression hadn’t darkened my soul to the extent that I can’t pick up a damn book and stay concentrated. I can only confess that to you, that it doesn’t bring me joy anymore and that’s why I read less and less, because my mind just catapults itself away. I always spoke to him about music and I get scared that our music tastes never changed and that there is everything alike all over again or he would know what I had been talking about.

But I don’t dare to raise it, instead he talks.

“Do you know that Maggie got married? She was the first from our class, actually. I don’t think that many followed after her.” I keep silent on our engagement. I get cold feet and you’re very well aware of it and I don’t want to spill my dirty laundry that we’ve talked about it and decided that I need to straighten my mind even more before I commit. I’m sure you’ve heard enough of me talking about it and crying about how I wish I were sane to commit.

Maybe I held my silence too long, because he looks at me very curiously. I open my mouth and I know that I have to follow with a sentence or some excuse, why I am so sudden with my reaction about someone else getting married early, someone I haven’t cared about in years actually.

“I’m engaged.” I utter nearly quietly and he just bites his lip, looking down and closing his eyes briefly. I don’t think I can look into his eyes, but I do.

“Well… Grooms very often cheat on their wives. Not that you’ll have a wife, of course, but like on the last night, at the stag party and whatnot. You’re having your stag party early.” He thinks for a while, drinking. Where even is the food? I wish I could stuff my face with some meat. “You already did it. You’ve… cheated and now it’s all irrelevant, because you’ve done it.”

I look at him.

“Might as well enjoy the sin fully since you’ll be wed.” He says the last part uncertain, as if he knows how bad cold feet I’m getting. I’ve even started crying because I was so scared in front of you, but I’m sure you remember that. I never understood your faith in me and how you say that you always have to be there for those who you love, because I’ve discarded so many. Sometimes I think that love means nothing to me.

I don’t really know what to reply to that, so he just stretches his hand and strokes my cheek. I check from the corner of my eye to make sure it’s okay, but then we’re not really tucked in too deep in the city and we are in a tourist area anyway. I ease into his touch, recalling how it had once felt and how we would spend whole days together. He gave me insight of how I wanted relationships to be further on and at the same time he destroyed me, shards which are very visible now and which you let pierce you because you don’t care about the pain in love. I wish I were like you.

What then? We sin and what next? But I don’t know how to live in the now. He leans over the table to kiss me and I kiss him back. My mind goes blank with fear, but it’s not something too frightful, it’s a fear of falling into some soft darkness, which I can be safe in, but away from everything I am. But then, I feel as the years go by that my memories fade, that I barely recall things and I don’t even know what I enjoy, I just pull the strings of my ghost. I just have fear of your reaction which I will not know until I send you the letter with all the truth, but I’m telling you everything I think of, to keep it fair and faithful as I can get. I lie so much, though.

My mind is a cobweb of fear and David is surely the spider which had spun it so many years ago, it’s as if he knew that we would meet again and reconcile somehow. But then he had thought that I would be waiting and was that actually the case? Sure, I wasn’t sitting idly like a princess, but I was galloping around like a prince to stumble onto another apparently. What even is forgiveness? Why would you give it to me? Maybe you’d give it to me because I had forgiven David. Is that how karma works?

They bring the food and I didn’t even notice that we had both chosen meat. I seemed to be spacing out enough for me not to notice the goal and once the celebrations are over, that’s when I jerk my head to see the score as if it would have changed greater than for a one. We both seem pretty hungry, so we don’t take our time and I know that I’m frankly always starving after sex, only now my mind had been clouded with all the thoughts of betrayal and whatnot. I’m done before David is and I wait for him to finish patiently, allowing my mind to drift into nothingness, some dullness as I watch the telly screen behind him, still not caring about the match even if I had times when I did. Football is fun to watch, but only when you root for a team, not when you crawl out post-coital with a former boyfriend.

What if the fact that I can never finish anything these days spills onto relationships? I can never finish something into a calm state for me to admire. I wasn’t even sure that I would ever crawl from your safe arms into someone else’s. I never saw myself as a cheater, because I’ve had the thoughts but I just assumed that I was going crazy, but then what is different from me going crazy now? It’s all the same bundle which I had given to you in a ribbon. I think too much.

It’s pretty late right now and I think the only wise option would be to go out drinking somewhere nearby and even then, going back to the hotel would be wiser. I suppress a yawn, but it’s pretty damn hard to hold. Maybe it’s fear putting me back to sleep since I can’t really die right now. It’s an odd thing to be suicidal but kind of very low in thinking of such things. It’s just a bit, never enough to lift the hand, but enough to think about it and wallow, wishing that a plane would crash and I would be okay with it. That’s where the suicidal thinking ends. And it’s not something I would ever share with a professional, knowing far too much what happens in the wrong cases and the stigma. We’ve all felt it, ask anyone. Everyone has ran a blade or scissors down their skin.

“Where’d you want to go?” And he snaps me out of my thinking. David’s done it, I think. Once we broke up, I questioned the validity of it all. Because if I get lied to once, I start thinking about everything I’ve been told.

I don’t think I had wished of anything more than falling in love when I was a child and I was shoved into that very early, which ruptured me. I would go to sleep thinking of all the guys I had crushes on and I would continue to remember them through life, I would always think of all the loves I had lost, no matter how small. I stopped crushing on people obviously as I had met you. My mind wandered only recently, when it was obvious that a wedding was on the horizon and all of a sudden I didn’t want anything to be stable. I don’t understand it, I don’t understand why and why am I even telling you this, because it’s just ripples while tracing the water’s surface.

“I frankly don’t care.” I don’t know. “Drinking is alright, but I think we will pour out our souls enough while sober.”

But would we?

“Sober it is then.” How would I act drunk when I’m completely sober? We finish our drinks and wait for the check in silence, as if there is some commotion to await. I wonder how would it even feel like, sleeping in his arms for the first time. I don’t even think we’ve napped together since I’ve only visited his place after we broke up and when he tried to kiss me. We were so young. Maybe one shouldn’t even date that young? Maybe my strict parents were right?

Why do I always want to jump relationships? Why do I go in circles?

I don’t like discussing politics much or any of the sort because it’s always far too painful with the current state of the world and being queer makes things even worse.

There’s not really much to say, I had an incident with photos which were taken and I never got them back when mine got lost. I really poured many memories into this story and let them develop into something which could’ve been if I had ever wanted it and if all my theories were true. I just made sugary fiction from a bitter reality and explored cheating and losing oneself.

Saudade. Chapter 5

“I honestly don’t know if you just want chitchat or if you want something deeper than that.”

“I think we’ve confessed our deepest sins.”

“But we didn’t touch everything we could’ve confessed about.” David pauses. “You’re not the first guy I cheated on my girlfriend with.”

He pretends to look at the street and I think briefly about bar fights and of the Argentinian guy who died in one.

“I can’t bring myself to date a guy.” He coughs lightly. “I’m sure you know from experience that parents with their post-Soviet mentality are not a good crowd to tell anything if it manages to run away from the norm that was forced into their minds.”

I just nod. I know that from more than first hand, I feel like I’ve lived every torturous and venomous remark there could ever be for a gay trans man, which somehow betrayed everything a human should be standing for.

“I had no choice.” I play with my fingers. I pause, sigh and continue. “I had to. If I could just snap my fingers and look female to my parents, I would. It’s not worth coming out and feeling comfortable in your shoes in front of such parents, but you gotta do what you gotta do. You can’t keep it hidden forever.”

Our drinks are here and I play with the straw before trying out the pineapple and mint for maybe the fifth time ever.

“That’s… the thing.” David pauses and gesticulates. “I can keep it hidden if I never get into anything serious.”

He glances at me, realizing his sudden choice of words and I bite my straw.

“But once I do, I’m screwed.” He blows the paper from the straw to my direction and it misses me. “Or I’m screwed now. I don’t work, I’m just studying currently, so it would be cutting myself off from a life I’m used to. I’m not sure I would want to risk throwing myself into working only, but… anyway.”

“I work.” I nod. I don’t want to get into details, but I rub my eyes. “Studying is expensive and just like every other aspect of my life, I started doubting whether I want it.”

Now it’s my turn to drink the juice and look at the street. I look back and smile at him.

The problem is that I can’t ask anyone how will the future unfold. And what real mistakes I’ve made. I don’t know what the fuck have I done and how far will the wound stretch and if you’ll ever be able to trust me again when I’m clearly back in some Stockholm Syndrome. I knew that I’ve done the greatest mistake and it’s just like when I get calmer and everything seems to be fine, I start a fight. My body is a constant state of fighting whatever I can lay my eyes on, even if with years I’m getting better, it’s really just baby steps.

I sip the drink.

“I don’t think I would risk anything, but I’ve done that already. But I had no choice at the time.” I start talking because once I open my mouth, I can’t really stop at all. I feel like I hide my shyness with the truth, but somehow I manage to hide so much of it either way.

“I know we both come from different backgrounds.” David states the obvious and I always felt uncomfortable with his wealth which happens to drag onto today, he’ll always be far more successful that I will ever be. I even felt uncomfortable besides you so often, it’s just something distilled in my blood, something I was told as a child, that I would never amount to anything somehow and that stayed with me. Maybe that’s why I focus on different things like love, where I want to be the protagonist at all times. Maybe because no one told me that one could lose at love. I could gain that and then gamble with it, apparently.

“Yeah.” I swallow harshly and my throat aches for a few seconds. “It’s odd how that drags you through life. I think wealth and where you’re born is the only things which affect what happens really rather than something else.”

David moves his head from side to side, I guess he agrees but doesn’t want to discuss something which isn’t our lives.

“But everyone has different problems. I can’t ever come out if I want to remain in the wealth. Then, I’d have to start like you did.” He pauses, realizing that he’s showing my situation in a negative light, which is more than obvious, but still he decides to apologize for it. “Sorry, you know what I mean.”

I look away, possibly motioning to change the subject of wealth, because it’s not something that can change overnight. He stretches his hand and strokes the back of my palm. I have to look back at him.

“In the end, it can all change and I think the best comparison is one’s deathbed, but I wouldn’t even advice you to compare. Money isn’t everything.” He says and I just sigh, feeling tired from working at such an early age. It’s something I can never get over with, because I was promised a different life and in the end I was dropped in the middle of the lake to learn how to swim and get back to the shore. “Richest is the man who knew love and how to be loved in return.”

I smirk, because that’s what I go by and here I am betting you away.

I wish, when you’re gone, that I would remember every memory we had. Because that’s what’s going to happen, isn’t it? I can barely recall how we met and I only reconstruct it slightly with my memory because you tell me little snippets which make you blush, when you’re drunk, as you tell and that’s that.

“I’m sure we score enough on that board.” And he strokes my hand again. I just grin at him, knowing into what rabbit hole I am actually falling into.

You knew where I grew up, where people would laugh about Bowie’s bisexuality and love him regardless, but would talk about how much of a shame it was that the greatest musician was queer. So of course, neither of us wanted to come out but you knew that as well. You’ve felt it and the more we see accepting families on television, the more I ask myself where actually are they? Are they all in America? What about everyone else and what makes a redneck America different from the other ignorant bastards who crawl the Earth?

My thoughts trail and I remember what I should’ve edited into the previous lines, but excuse me for the sudden thoughts, I’ve cried while writing this because I am terribly vain and this is all hope and some apology for making you get back with me, if you decide to leave me. This whole letter is a plea, because if I tell the truth, it’ll be your decision rather than mine to tell everything or not. I’ve chosen my path and the thing is will you join me again, knowing how screwed up I am?

Do you know that it took me over a year to listen to Bowie again. It was on the plane to Brazil, I had him stashed in my phone, I knew that the right time would come. I just wanted to hear storytelling, songs full of stories, to let me forget everything and live with someone else for a bit, hear Bowie sing it all into my ear.

I don’t think I spoke much of the loss he had given me, because I take loss really badly and with each death it gets worse, because I’m a firm believer in the fact that it never gets better. That one always mourns just as much, not even the loss of memories make the pain duller. So it never got better after Bowie’s death. Even if I wasn’t into him as much as you ever were, the songs still followed me through my teenage years and I would let them shape my life and now all of a sudden, they couldn’t because they all were filled, envelopes filled with death with my address on it. Maybe somewhere tucked in with the fact that I would accept the plane crashing on the way, I accepted Bowie’s death after so long, because I had accepted my own. I didn’t feel fear of death like so much of my family had. So many were petrified of death and I just seemed to be accepting it, one death at a time and I wanted my own as well.

Maybe I was drawn to Bowie as well, because he and David held the same name. But then it was David who showed me him, just one song and then I didn’t bite it until I had encountered him myself later and a different song as well.

It’s weird to think that there are still things I wouldn’t reveal to David. It’s weird to be so secretive, but it’s all because I’m too scared and I recall that when I would be honest, that would push him away and that fear just carried me throughout my whole life, giving me fear of you too. It’s also a lack of faith in myself. There are things I wouldn’t mention in the conversation now, like how much I mourned Bowie, like a grandparent who I care about a lot. My parents are alive, so I haven’t felt that loss yet. Instead I get confusion and wondering why do we value the bond of blood so much, because sometimes I feel like it’s just obligation to stay. I wish it was like that with lovers, no matter how you screw up.

What about friends, who had turned on me because I came out as trans? Why couldn’t I keep those instead of family, who just stands me somehow because they’re supposed to love what they get on the plate no matter what? But then those friends would hold the same useless value as family. Maybe it’s best that some leave, but what about David?

Did he have to leave too? Did he have to age to come back? Because we still change even if we claim that we don’t, that’s just the way the world happens to go, we age and we grow out of being angry stubborn teenagers. Instead in this day and age I think it’s more fear of the world than anything and seeing in perspective how much worse do some people have it or maybe how bad I have it. I don’t know anymore. I don’t like patting myself on the back at all. I don’t even know why I talk to myself in my head if I can’t stand myself so badly.

“Do you ever wonder…why is everything so screwed?” Now I stroke his hand, as I take a sip from the juice. Maybe I should’ve taken some alcohol but that would loosen me up even more. I get surprised at my own question, but I let it roll, just so I can see how well it will unfold.

“What do you mean by everything? The world?” He asks and I just nod, recalling how even with everything going on at the time, it feels like now it’s worse, it feels as if it was calm back there. Now everything feels like it’s tumbled and all the liquid is getting out, seeping through every single crack and distorting reality. “I don’t think about it. It used to drive me crazy and I would be checking what the hell is going on every day, but I can’t change it and neither can you. It’s just the setting we are given. And we need to survive with it.”

It seemed like something he would say at any age though, because we wouldn’t speak much of politics and the state the world was in or maybe I don’t recall it as much. It’s been long and I can’t even remember what I had for dinner last night.

I don’t know why but knowing that I can’t change anything rails me up even more. Everything just seems to be chains to me, because everything we do, every action is done to be safe and to avoid the most damage. That’s why we never follow our intrusive thoughts, because dropping the phone into the water has consequences, like slapping someone harshly. I’ve told you this, but I’ve kept myself safe for years because I knew that no one would react normally when I would come out, so I had to keep it secret and steal my dad’s shaving foam just to cut myself through the bad acne I used to have. I would do those small things to keep myself sane, but I don’t like speaking of it. I didn’t like the fact that weeks and up to a year I had hold before telling anyone, I couldn’t even speak of it properly to a friend, I couldn’t utter it until I left home. And I knew that soon enough this comfort would go away, but how was I supposed to rest with the fact that I had to hide who I was? I had to walk on my tiptoes tiredly.

You’ve told me repeatedly that I need a therapist, because there’s still things which gave me flashes of old times, things I never want to recall or even confront and if I could I would never move forwards, I would accept that what I’ve been through stopped me from life, but that’s not how you go at all. And I can’t convince you otherwise. You want a future, when I just want to settle. Just like I had settled until I could get out. I was on the brink of those two thoughts I just told. I liked knowing that nothing would change and I wanted out. My head is in turmoil and I would never confess that to a therapist, I don’t want to hear after the smoke settles, that I cheated on you. It’s my poison to bear rather than to tell and feel sorry for myself.

I don’t even know where I would start with the therapist if I would ever agree to bare my soul to a stranger. I’m insane, that’s all there is to it and if I could, if I truly hated myself instead of some twisted desire to never hurt myself, I would finally break everything and let you go as well. Maybe I would be left with David, just with the hope that he would treat me just as bad as he once did and I would wait at home, red eyed and drunk, hoping for him to chase less skirts, because I would be the faithful husband. I thought of writing wife, because that’s what I had always thought, or at least thought for such a long while. When I reach a really desperate time I just start calling myself names and misgendering is part of it. No matter who I am and how I pass now, how I look. You just don’t know how much I want to end everything, just like I waited to get out of the house and tell people who I was. I was never thankful. It was driving me up the wall, when I knew who I was and I would trace the walls every night with my fingertips, knowing.

Why did I feel comfortable with a man I barely knew now? I barely knew him and yet I was baring myself. It’s not like I haven’t done that before, but it was more of the fact that I was doing it again somehow. I would always fall down in desperation to hook up. I liked being used, but I would increase that desire with the more broken I would feel. Because the more I would play, the more I would mute out my thoughts and feelings. I was running away from you by causing more trouble. I wanted you to go away and stay at the same time.

I could stare at you forever. I could write this letter forever. I could never send it also.

This whole novel is a love letter to disaster.

I finished writing this, but my mind drifts to things that I could’ve added and I know that it will stay like this forever. I often think of stories which are long gone. I kept thinking of the songs we liked which didn’t have gay subtext but were open about it. Looking back, it was very odd for what we thought it should be. But then it was really just two guys, albeit none knew of that.

The keeping it hidden from parents was from a conversation I had with someone else, who inspired a lot of my recent work. Because you can still hide bisexuality and whatnot form relatives if you can. I’ve been writing shorter back stories, to make the story more precise rather than me revealing everything.

Saudade. Chapter 4

I always take a while to fall in love and it took me a while with you as well. I remember we were walking, how loud the night was and you brushed against me in a narrow street, you told me that you don’t even remember but then I looked up at you and I knew, after all that talking and drinking which on some days you wouldn’t stand on your feet. We would go out so often as friends.

You would tell me to stop talking to David, when I wouldn’t be able to move, far too much booze in my system and I was tucked in my bed by you, as you would take the floor. We couldn’t even sleep in separate rooms because I couldn’t bear the thought of having you far when I could wake up from a nightmare, and you know that I’ve had plenty. Sleeping pills help, but the bare bone is psychological, something I should’ve dealt with so many years ago, but I never did.

And here I was-

Betraying your love, pushing you further, knowing that you would stretch like gum. It’s an odd feeling because I know how deep your love runs and now I don’t know how exactly shallow I am with my papercut feelings. I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I kiss David and he just looks at me lustfully, as if he would never betray me and the eyes are different now. They resemble a dog’s but even a dog can die or run away. Dogs run away, no matter how faithful and loyal, so why are they a symbol of trust?

“I love you. I love you.” He would say between kisses, both of us spent. I was watching him spiral down, I was watching all of his feelings collapse into my hands, when I didn’t know where to go.

I only knew love.

I didn’t know what this would lead to.

David had been my first kiss and it was a sloppy one to be honest. We both had no idea of what we were doing, as we had both held to make it special, because firsts are somehow considered to be treasured and I had taken it far too literally with him up to my mid twenties apparently.

I felt overwhelmed with his kissing that I started laughing when he would trail them all over my face, pleased to see me after all these years.

“All these years, Jesus Christ, all these years.” He strokes my hair, playing with the ends as he would observe me, see how scared I felt, my breath becoming so heavy and I even sat up to glance at the darkness outside the window. How long have we been fucking? He sits up with me. “What is it?”

“I have a boyfriend.” I say with my mouth all dry. “I’m supposed to be in love with him.”

“Do you love him?” He looks pale and looks at me all confused, lost and hoping for some catch for him to raise the stakes with me.

“Yeah.” I say even more quiet than I should. “I do.”

“I have a girlfriend.” He pauses. “But I don’t love her, like I always do.”

It’s no surprise again.

He takes my hand and kisses it.

“That didn’t stop me, neither should it you. We’re in Brazil.” I raise an eyebrow.

“What happens in Brazil, stays in Brazil?” David just shrugs, maybe he is more broken than I ever was. I grew to love again at least and accept who I was. A fuck up, but at least I knew it. I drag my nails on the bed sheets, thinking, weighing everything.

“Don’t you want to keep fucking?” He asks that a bit shyly, reminding me of how he was when he was young and he tilts his head. “Unless you want to discard everything, which is alright.”

He never changes, but I see through him. I’ve got him now after all these years.

“Blackmail.” I smirk.

“I want the whole package, David.” I confess. I lay back on the bed and I close my eyes. “You want a fucking affair, let’s have one.

Let’s have a fucking affair.”

He smiles widely. My whole body heats up, I’ve had thoughts of infidelity before, just standing at night in the balcony, wondering how much did I really miss fucking someone else, how much did I just miss hooking up and how much did I miss exploring other people? Did David count? I would think of him a bit more sometimes, just a brief thought throughout the day, something about my exes, because I would always think of love and he would be there. He would change as he got older, I would think of him how he is now, rather than how he was before with all his bad haircuts. I think we all get bad ones as we grow up. In my case it was worse, because I had the whole gender confusion. I didn’t know who I was and if I knew back then, it would have been hell for my relatives and myself, because it wasn’t the right place and time to be out.

David opens his mouth to speak, looks at me and holds, shaking his head with a small laugh from inside.

“I am terribly happy, honestly. I don’t even know what else to say. I’ve wanted this for so long.” I wonder why hadn’t I done a move, but then I was trying to stay female and I would play by all the rules, thinking that it was how it was always supposed to be and was envious that all the moves and thinking would be done by the men. I wanted in, so badly. “I’ve talked about you and asked of you.”

He puts a strand of my hair away from my eyes.

“But you stopped asking, you would be very cross at me for the confession. I don’t know what else could I have said. It was too many years and I knew that you wouldn’t come back.” He pauses. “I should have dumped the girl, but I didn’t know at all that you would even consider getting back with me. I just wanted to swim in my tears. I wanted salt on all my wounds, but I didn’t even consider that being in a confessional would make me lose you for so many years.”

“I would have never confessed.” I say. “I always thought all was done and I didn’t consider myself to even have the authority to make the moves. I just thought that I would wait and then I got tired, because you would always sense when I would get closer to someone else.”

I pause.

“The confession was done a few days before I got with my current boyfriend.” I speak out. “You sensed it.”

“Really?” He laughs and watches me, to make sure that I’m not puling a prank on him but I really am not. Even knowing David and how he would fuck up things to come back, it still makes me wonder how he is still here and how this was the ultimate dream for him somehow. He covers his face with his hands and then peeks out, smiling. “I never wanted to let you go.”

“Okay, I’ll stop being sappy.” He grins and sits up even more. David looks outside, just to reflect how he is also surprised at the sudden darkness of the night which reached us. “We need to eat.”

I guess neither of us would show up at the wedding events until tomorrow. And I could only imagine the gossip, but it was inevitable and I had no fun explaining things to people usually, unless I deeply cared about them which were usually lovers.

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss you now, as I was writing all of this. I happened to be as screwed up as David once was. I thought for so long that I had been taking so much from him because he was the first. Or maybe David is still screwed as badly as he had once been, I’m not sure which one would be considered his absolute worst and the fall of a man. I’m telling you this because I never want it to end even if I have my midnight thoughts and my doubts, I know that it’s all because I’m screwed but never for a second doubt that I love you, I just happen to love an old love as well. And I don’t know what to even do with myself about it.

Maybe that was the beauty of David, that I barely remembered so many things and only the striking ones would be in memory, so there was never a dull Wednesday which I seemed to be running away from with you. I would get terrified that love would be put as a secondary thing and I would do everything in my power to do something. I wanted to be a constant love protagonist instead of some sort of life story, I wanted love to keep writing itself to a ridiculous extent. And for that moment, I felt like I could be a protagonist again. That’s why I went with it.

“I thought sex counted as food.” Awful, I should have never said, but I did. David snorts at my bad joke and signals to get out of the bed. The following was clumsily trying to understand which pants belonged to whom, since we seemed to be suffice with the lights outside the window and we didn’t bother to turn on the lights until some tumbling. We get dressed and once we do, we stop to star at each other, to let everything sink in from the confessions to affair agreements to sex. David kisses me briefly, before saying come on.

We discuss for a brief while where to go, realizing that many places are still unknown to us or we can’t remember them and as we stand outside of the hotel watching all of unchanging Brazilian fashion, since the brands are mostly local. It’s odd to think that for foreign goods the tax is high and somehow it feels even more that Brazil is in a bubble with all of this. But once you sink your teeth deep into any country, you’ll feel terribly isolated. It’s quite possible to imagine and live like there’s no other countries out there.

David eventually points to a restaurant and I just follow him, wondering what the hell will I even order, juggling the Brazilian food I can remember in my mind, since the place seems to have Brazilian food mostly. I like to know what I’ll order beforehand because otherwise I take far too long.

I just watch everyone, as David makes sure that we’re going the right way. We don’t hold hands or anything, because it’s weird to be in a place which has anti-discrimination laws but the nation holding the opposite values. I can’t help but wonder everything like how does it feel to be here their entire lives with the fear of getting robbed or dying from a bullet, which people maybe don’t think about as often. I don’t really know. I feel that I am dragging myself a bit, as I happen to have sex which drained me and the lack of food isn’t helping. I didn’t even realize how hungry I was. We also seem to be in a sea of Portuguese noise.

We only look and open our mouths to start talking once we are seated at a crowded, overpriced place but I don’t think we could’ve held until anything cheaper and since we’re pretty much next to the beach this is the price we have to pay. Maybe the worst is that I still want him, we both just smile at each other, peeking over the menu. It’s weird to know that we can both be silences which don’t bore the other, I would think that age would have easily erased everything and all the comfort, but instead it gave a second life somehow. My mind was drifting, I couldn’t help but compare you two. But at the same time, I didn’t want to think of you while I was sitting at that table, I just wanted to be David’s, I wanted him back, I wanted him back inside me too, I wanted to fuck him, I wanted everything. I wanted to stretch every single cell of his skin, I wanted to trace my tongue all over him, I wanted to kiss him.

We were still terribly post-coital with the matching hair.

I remember once reading that the beauty of memories is not only that you could interpret them as you wish, but you could remember what you want and build the memories in a way that you want. Giving yourself false memories if you want to. I remember it from some pretty embarrassing thing, so I won’t tell you where it’s from. I just remember that it inspired me and awed me being pretty young at the time. It’s odd to look back and really hate yourself because life was dreadful being so young and being under so much control by parents. The problem is that indeed teenagers are awful, but not as bad as parents paint them to be and that’s the reason why everything is so fucked during the teenage years.

I glanced back at David, who kept looking at the drinks page, I assume. Do we sacrifice things for love? For every couple there is something they had to sacrifice which goes from abandoning dreams, careers, places, children and so on. There’s always some sort of sacrifice. Did I sacrifice David just to be with you?

Was that my sacrifice? Was David something I had wanted all along? I knew that people loved multiple, but when I happened to be in a monogamous relationship for a while now, it wasn’t something I should’ve even thought about. I knew that you wouldn’t want to open it to someone who had shattered me for so many years and I am terrible at removing toxic people from my life. You knew how much he had dragged me around, how many manoeuvres he had done and nothing to even bring me much closer, he would stop at some point and that would be it. And we haven’t seen each other in so many years.

We ordered some food, which I’m sure we had eaten plenty times while being in Brazil, but since it’s not a weekend trip for us, it was something enough to savour. And that’s when the silence should be gone, but instead neither of us opens any topic, the post-coital salvation gone and replaced with awkward looks, like we’re back at some school reunion and we remember that we once used to date and love each other fearlessly. I don’t even know what to say. My mind is blank and I just stare at him nervously, I should’ve said something a minute ago. I should’ve been better in the recent past.

Usually I would base my own partner for the most beloved, but in this case I had a different character in mind, I wanted a different fiance and boyfriend for Allan. Which is a contrast to the fact that the two main characters had realistic bases.

Another thing which happened was that my partner did indeed tell me to stop talking to the guy, which resulted in us ceasing contact forever.

My first kiss was something bizarre, which never stirred any emotions in me and it still causes me confusion to this day, but then maybe I had put too much expectation in it. I honestly don’t know why the magic hadn’t happened, because all my other first kisses had feelings behind them.

I pretty much retell a lot and I wouldn’t want to blur the lines even further by saying what’s real and what isn’t in regards to David and Allan’s story and how things had gone in the past.