I saw the moon, it was a blood red, when we had just met. I dreamt of Rui going up in a top hat, counting all the stars and giving them to me, but instead I am woken up by a hand crawling and tracing lines on my skin. I shouldn’t have worn a tank top, I feel completely exposed.
Years have passed since the moon. No, just weeks.
We headed back inside, climbing over the deserted park fence. Too many places like these became homes here. We didn’t kiss or anything, but I always wondered with his countless cigarettes why he had called me over. Instead of giving answers, he just kept me by his side.
I understood his loneliness. I would have seen Rui cry, if he had let me, but he would take the queue in the bathroom and bawl his eyes out there. He stopped doing drugs a long while ago, or at least that’s what I had thought until he had told me that he never actually did them. Alcohol was enough, he said, but through the mist of weed I had seen him stare at me and even wink.
But he was never pushed to the edge.
Once he had gone out and I laid on his bed, feeling myself go terribly aroused and I stuck a hand deep down my pants, touching myself. It didn’t take long and I wasn’t caught.
I jerk at the sudden hand.
He’s the one always talking in stores and I just mumble my way through a half-eaten language. It’s not like we go out a lot.
But he sketches me a lot.
He’s told me to undress and he’s studied my chest, he’s asked me to spread my legs. It was a circulating currency between us. He would pay me, but I would sometimes lend him money. He called me his muse, but he wouldn’t have sex with me.
Neither would he kiss me. Instead he would just watch, feeling disturbed if another man would sit besides me and watch too. I guess I knew I was good looking somewhere, or maybe it was because I was of such age. I don’t know. He would ask them to stop and take me outside, telling me stories as we would walk up and down the hills of the small city.
I never asked him even once why had he called me over.
The arm travelled and I regretted falling asleep on the bus, but my eyes were greeted with a pair of curious puppy brown eyes. He was younger than I was, and I already felt terribly young.
“Do you have a cigarette?” Accent from the north. I just nod, realizing that I shouldn’t be giving out cigarettes to random strangers. But he takes me by my hand and we exit the stop together. I realize that it’s two stops away so it’s not too bad. He lights the cigarette and I wonder if he is even of legal age, but then I see the subtle stubble. Everyone here has a baby face once they shave. Same for him.
I stretch out the box and he just pulls the cigarette from my mouth into his, returning his to the box. We share the cigarette and he watches me.
“What brings you here? Your accent… it’s not from here.”
“It’s not.” I reply in perfect English. He smiles, rubbing his eye away from any sleep which he might have contaminated from me. It’s not foreign for people to suddenly speak English here, thankfully, so he jumps along the train as we share the cigarette.
Sometimes I get tired from speaking anything else.
“Do you want a drink?” He asks and his hair doesn’t even reach his eyes, but is still rather shaggy.
“Are you old enough to even drink?” I ask him and he laughs.
“They barely ID you here. I thought you’d know by now.” I just shrug and he gives me the cigarette. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a joint. I wonder what would Rui be doing, but instead my thoughts are disturbed.
“The karaoke bars are terrible.” I hear him say and I just look at him, confused.
“I went on a date one with this… guy. It was awful, I sang Beautiful Stranger and then left, because the date was going so damn bad.”
“So he wasn’t your beautiful stranger?”
“Not at all.” He smiles at me, inhaling the cigarette. “But I would call you a beautiful stranger.”
I ignore the compliment and I see that he grasps it immediately.
“I shouldn’t be going around with thirty year old men who never dated.” I flinch, thinking of Rui. He never spoke to me about his personal life. I’m so used to gay men around me, that it takes me a while to realize that the young guy is into men as well. In his own way. I want to say that it depends on the guy, but I don’t want to keep talking and we start heading the same direction, I know he’s just following me at this point. But it’s not like there is anything to steal from me and I do live in a squat, anyway.
I turn around and he stops. We’re nearly the same height.
I point towards a bench and he follows me. It’s opposite to our place, so if Rui were to exit he would be able to see me sitting opposite and we would watch each other. I would surely get him jealous and he would start counting the stars all over again on my skin. He would trace his fingers, the nails down, as if he would be about to make love to me, he’d be on top of me but neither of us would love as he would watch my naked skin.
I loved him so.
We fall asleep on said bench. I don’t even recall us talking, I just remember that he leaned in to kiss me and I took out another cigarette and gave it to him as a pacifier.
We can be anyone to strangers, even beloved.
He invites me for a small breakfast the next morning and I comply, energizing myself from the fact that Rui would notice that I had been gone.
I had a letter handed to me last night by Rui, who watched me carefully, smoking the cigarette since the place was a mixture of anything you could lay your hands on. It was from my mother, begging me to come home, but I couldn’t. I felt like we had discussed too much and even being my mother she had said too many things I couldn’t forgive, so I just discarded the letter and Rui took some photos of me ripping it. He said that it would be for the future. I felt guilty, but I didn’t want to speak to the kid about it.
He paid for breakfast and I just smiled. He was possibly counting the dates it would get me to spread my legs. Maybe he was bisexual or something. Maybe we should all not care who we go to bed with, but in the end there is something wired within us. The problem is that sometimes our wiring doesn’t work, just like we were supposed to live to seventy, but we get run over by a car. It’s not the body’s fault or is it because we had stepped outside that day, knowing the fate and running water through the hair without shampoo just this one time.
Does everything go different on the day you die? Does the wiring go wrong as well?
I don’t ask that.
I run a hand through my short hair, which Rui had buzzed the day before. He watched me a lot and he would ask me questions with a thick accent, ignoring the letter h always, as if it was silent, just like in Portuguese. I couldn’t correct him, he felt like a snake charmer.
He had greeted me in the airport with flowers, telling me that he would be with roses and even if I knew his face and he knew mine. He asked me to strip the first day and he drew me, as if I had been an American Beauty fantasy. Maybe he knew that I hadn’t gone that far, something inside me not letting me unravel, but with him it was different.
Rui let me do anything as he would sketch. Once I had even touched myself and he just kept on sketching, watching me silently with charcoal nearly traced on his face.
“I’m André.” The kid says and lights a cigarette now from his box and watches me. I realize that most likely he is my age with those big brown eyes, which are different from Rui’s black bottomless ones. I don’t reply.
“Alright.” He replies surprised, but as if it’s no big deal. I sip my black coffee in the tiny mug it was served in. Anywhere else it would’ve tasted gross, but somehow it works here. It brings some sad nostalgia of old lovers I would never have. “What do you go by?”
“What do people call you here…? you’re clearly a foreigner.”
“Russo.” I say. “Even if I’m a girl-”
“A girl.” André chews on that for a while, as he pokes my pastry and then back up at me. “Yet people call you Russo.”
He narrows his eyes.
“Doesn’t it bother you?”
“No.” I lie. I think I lie. I’ve only let Rui call me by my name and even then when people don’t understand who he is speaking of, he says the Russo. Then everyone knows who it’s about. But André doesn’t push it, like Rui sometimes does.
Rui would ask me questions from a book on gender, studying me, but he wouldn’t let me in properly and I couldn’t understand the Portuguese title either. Maybe he had majored in Psychology. Rui was a few years older than me.
I can’t shake off André, no matter how hard I try, he just follows me, I guess since he bought me breakfast he keeps on asking me questions. How come I’m Russian, how come I don’t speak Portuguese yet and that just like he had learnt English by talking about things he enjoyed, and so should I. Not giving any particular reason, I just recall how once I had asked Rui, while sitting in his small room, to teach me some Portuguese and he had, but I was terrible at it. I couldn’t differentiate the Os and I would even forget the swear words.
But he smiled and he would kiss me on the forehead goodnight.
I don’t know why he preserved me.
Once I had walked in on him masturbating and he just locked the door on me, after letting me watch him cum all over his chest. He shut the door, excusing himself and I heard him sit on the floor for a while, probably running hands through his hair, which was now longer than my own and looking at the door.
I loved Rui.
There was something about him I couldn’t crack because I wasn’t a nutcracker, but I still loved him. Once we had fallen asleep in the same bed after drawing all night and taking photos of each other. My hands shook, but I took fairly decent photos.
“I love you.” I had told him. As if revealing a cover of a dusty book. He was terribly sleepy and allowed me to be in his arms.
“Pois, eu sei.” He mumbled sleepily, wrapping his arms tighter. I didn’t ask for a translation, but I left it at such, always forgetting to ask him.
“Where do you stay, Russo?” André asked me and I just nodded across the street, we had walked a while without realizing it much last night, silently. I wonder how much even goes in silence, simply because I refuse to speak or speak too much.
“Oh.” He said, eyes glistering. He wasn’t from here. Everything was a novelty, even some destroyed places by students and others who would leech off.
I was getting tired of his questions, recalling how I had spent my childhood being a Russian-German, never even speaking German as fluently as I should’ve, focusing more on English, an odd obsession which had gone nowhere. But then we had all learned the fucking language as if we would all believe together in something. Then I spoke of my parents who had to work twice as hard as any German, because we were still foreigners and no one looks properly at foreigners, to which André shifted uncomfortably in his seat. It wasn’t like he was the one holding the whip anyway.
“I don’t think you have that here.” I just smile sadly to his words, actually not knowing anything.
We walked up the stairs to the place and my hands were shaking, I was imagining a million scenarios where he would be sitting there through the haze, someone playing league of legends on their mac, someone grinding marijuana, someone just having a conversation on the phone, but instead it was all empty.
I ran to Rui’s room and André followed me. It was locked and I yanked the door further open, revealing nothing. The photos and sketches were there, all of them from my time here and I just picked some up, as if to clean up and André picked one of me naked and then looked back at me. I wasn’t much to look at naked. I was just average.
“Oi, Russo!” And a man with a crooked smile, sloppy dyed blonde hair shows up in Rui’s flip flops. He speaks to me in Portuguese, before slapping his forehead. “Rui’s in the kitchen.”
The blondie is wearing Rui’s flip flops. My heart sinks. André walked ahead, as if he knows where the kitchen is. We head upstairs, past all the graffiti covered the black paint of the walls and the blonde doesn’t look back. Instead he and André do some small talk in Portuguese about the weather.
Rui’s in the kitchen alright, naked, smoking a cigarette, all pale and his face in his hands.
“Eu fodi um homem.” I’m no moron to not understand that. He says that through his fingers.
“Errado, eu fodi você.” I realize the blonde man is Brazilian with his lax use of ‘você’ as he makes a motion towards Rui. Rui drags the cigarette again, then looking at me.
“He fucked me last night.”
“I got that.” I snap. Rui’s not taken back, instead he looks doped up, but all I see is discarded cigarette butts and the noises of stairs, doors and laughter from the room nearby. The Brazilian looks at all of us in turns. What the fuck is even André doing here? I feel like closing his eyes, from seeing all this opera and Rui keeps looking at me all lost and confused.
I can’t get the image of him receiving pleasure for someone else, that he had listened to the Brazilian’s soft words and gone somewhere in the enormous house to fuck. That somehow a stranger had managed to do something I couldn’t even dream of doing. I had wanted Rui so badly, but the more days went buy, the more I wanted to buy him a bouquet of flowers and leave. I knew that he didn’t want me, not that way while I was becoming obsessed. I was tired of stealing his clothes to wear and him watching me undress for another sketch.
I was desperately tired.
“I’m gay.” Rui says defeated and it is said in one breath, as if it would be a regular motion, but I close my eyes.
But I can feel his eyes pierce right through me and I open just to greet them and I see his stubble has now grown nearly into a beard.
“You could be going through a phase.” The Brazilian laughs and André catches up on the laughter, but instead Rui ignores them both and goes towards me, grabbing me by the wrist and taking me outside. We stand on the balcony, I wish it were raining now, but instead we are stuck in the drought which had burned down many things in its path. Instead I just stare at him.
“There was someone else before…” He wanders off, leaning completely against the balcony with his hands and then stretching, still hangover, thinking that he would find cigarettes, but I give him my own pack and he lights one, eyes which feel bloodshot looking at me.
“Then you-” I stumble on my words and he looks at me. “Why did you call me over?”
“Because you always looked like a guy.” He grabs my face and I stare at him. “I wanted it to be over with the other guy, but I’ve only stumbled onto someone else…”
And for the first time he kisses me hungrily.
I don’t even get a moment of surprise, I claw onto his back, kissing him instantly, his stubble still scratching me as we start making out and I can only imagine André and the Brazilian playing scrabble or something. Anything. I don’t care.
I keep kissing, as his boner starts digging into my hip.
“You were an escape, which I had failed.”
He sticks his hands under my tank top, travelling up to my nipples and I moan.
We stop and he presses the door of the balcony back, taking me on the floor with him. He squeezes them harsher than I’ve ever let anyone and I moan even harder. Pleasure travelling all over my body and I let him do whatever he wants to me, as he takes off my clothing, his erection digging into my legs or my hip when he drags himself up to kiss me.
The balcony door is open, the door is open, anyone can hear my moans as he goes down on me, kicking me everywhere, tasting me, savouring me as he is between my legs and I start shaking as he inserts a finger inside me.
“Rui…” I turn away, flushed from sex.
“I love you.” Somehow saying that I need him is harder.
“I love you too.” He stops and goes up to face me. I taste myself on his lips. He positions himself and starts thrusting inside me. I arch myself as much as I can, feeling him stretch me, going in and out. He’s rather big, but I’ve seen that and it aches in the current position somehow, but it brings too much pleasure that we both moan and stare at each other.
“I need you.” I still say and that makes Rui dissolve in me, I feel him fill me up with warm cum and I unravel myself, screaming, thrusting against him as he does his last pulls in.
I start crying.
He holds me. I cry even harder. He’s gay. Where do I even fit? He keeps kissing me all over.
He said he was attracted to me because I looked like a guy. That rings heavily in my head and I sit up, just to look at him. Then I look at my naked masculine body.
I am leaking his cum now. Rui takes a finger and rubs me in circles with the cum soaking it all and I stop crying. I lay down again.
“You never loved me as a woman.” I say.
He keeps doing it and because I’m still sensitive from the previous orgasm I cum rather fast.
“I fell in love, with you as a man.”
Many things made me wonder, many things made me think in the end. We laid still for a while, before I stood up and he asked for another cigarette. Rui didn’t chase me, as he just remained seated in the room, coated with our fluids and only glanced once back.
Stepping out, felt like walking out of a dream, it had been nightfall by the time we left.
I packed up all my things, my hands weren’t trembling anymore.
I gained what I needed to know, as André just sat besides me, passing me old clothes which I had taken with me. The Brazilian walked past my room, as Rui called him out, glancing quickly in my direction and leaving it as such.
I couldn’t picture Rui anymore once both me and André left. I asked him where he lived. It was elsewhere, paid by his parents money. He didn’t ask much, as we drove there.
The rain ended the drought when I headed inside his apartment and hugged André. There never is a way to end things, you just slip out and then you might cross paths again and that’s when you’re asked again
Would you want another round?
I’ve decided to blow off the dust off a very old story of mine. This is a retold/remake new and shiny version set in Portugal, which was influenced by the places I’ve seen, which were something I hadn’t experienced before but attempted to write about. I’ve touched on certain things in Two Elizabeths, so the mindset is sort of there. I feel weird when I don’t work on many projects at the same time, so I felt like rewriting this old story which took a few years to finish, slowly writing short chapters one at a time.
There’s also a homage to one of my favourite imageries in the beginning, but it’s too old to mention what it’s a reference to.
This version focuses more on Russo/Rui’s relationship rather than the original which was more focused on all four characters.
I hope you enjoyed it, because I was so thrilled about it that it took me a few days to finish the whole thing.