Even if we started talking about exes, I couldn’t wait until I would be alone and I could think of the kiss on the hair properly and let those thoughts blossom, grow. I wanted to let those thoughts consume me as I would lay on my stomach, hugging my pillow and letting my mind progress to a place where I could see him properly kissing me too. I think of all of this during the pause, where Johnny is observing the lake.
“Can we row there now, in theory?” I’m a bit surprised, taken back, but I take his question.
“Yeah, of course.” I pause and Johnny looks at me pleadingly. “You mean now?”
I had rowed enough times without Steven, so that it would become routine instead of rowing for my previous boyfriend and now I would think of rowing when it’s nearly dark so that I would see the moon, so that I would see the first stars and nearly lose sight of the house, despite it’s brightly lit windows, reflecting wherever my parents were. It was odd that I would only reduce them to rooms, but then we all had many things to ponder about the other. I would catch myself thinking about odd discussions, where they would seem visibly upset about their only son being gay. I told them that most likely I would adopt regardless or if I happened to have a partner which could conceive, that would happen maybe, but it’s different from a parent’s eyes. It was briefly about what to tell everyone else since I had Steven. He had showed up to some family events as my plus one and it was met with hushed words as well as on his end.
His end was more harsh, a bit too upfront, specifically from his dad who had told him that he was an embarrassment rather than my own parents only hinting at that. But nevertheless his mother insisted on me coming, that I was a part of whatever kind of family they had going. I wonder if they actually divorced as it had smelt of it for a good while and Steven would speak on how much he himself would be happier if his parents had just went along with it.
“You know…” I trail off but catch myself. “Yeah, we can row now… But I’d rather just…”
“We can talk in the boat.” Johnny suggests. I wonder why is he so eager about the boat and it’s not as beautiful as one would imagine it to be, it’s no cartoon-like fairytale with singing sea animals and falling stars, it’s really just rural nature along with nearly still water.
“Sure.” I say, barely knowing how to refuse when he’s so eager about it and maybe he just wants some proper full fleshed privacy which we could only achieve by really being in the middle of the lake. We both turn around and go down the stairs which are filled with photos of me through the ages and of course there will never be a photo of me with a boyfriend. The closest I have to anything significant is standing in a full kit with a football, when I got in to the small club I am currently in now, which was one of the proudest days. No matter how shitty our club is, I’ve been in worse and this is the best I’ll get by just staying here. Johnny observes all the photos, a small smile starting to play on his lips, but he still makes his way down. We exit through the back door, avoiding all the cluttered area, but Johnny’s too excited so I just cut our way a bit and he doesn’t seem to mind all the mess.
We both avoid saying anything as we exit. He follows me and I make sure he is, even if it’s nothing hard to follow, which is a bit of a road to the right and through some trees. I stop for a brief moment, realizing that I had left my cigarettes in the backpack.
“I forgot my cigarettes.” I say a bit flatly and Johnny just goes ahead, seeing where the boat is and I look at him.
“Fuck it, be healthy for once, Robbie.” He grins back and waits for me. I join him up and start untying the boat. I do it faster than usual, because he’s so eager that he’s just rocking from front to back on his heels and I watch him, before I signal that we can both go into the boat. Johnny goes in instantly and I follow him, taking the paddles and not sure if he would now how to row properly.
“I can row this time, if you’d like.” I say and I have a vision of Steven for the first time since I had gone rowing without him, Steven had longer hair than Johnny and straight, he was very theatrical just like everything about him, he was a stereotype which people wouldn’t really talk about, not a jock. I take a while to say anything and just stare at Johnny, while he looks at the water and the surroundings, letting it all soak in.
It felt like rowing with Steven to the middle of the lake once again. It felt like an old love. I didn’t know where I wanted my mind to trail and I couldn’t help but continue the silence which Johnny started and think of my ex. It was all because I had taken someone else with me. I should’ve offered to row with Paul or Andy and leave the other cunt on the shore. I should’ve done something besides think of Steven all over. When I ended it, the feeling was far from over, I knew that we could’ve gone on somehow, that I could’ve forgiven or closed my eyes or opened the relationship, but it was the fact that he hadn’t told me that had driven me wild, to scream at him and then cry once I got back, midway back home. I didn’t cry after that, I just shut down and I let summer be the coldest I had felt in my life.
Even if we travelled I didn’t care, and just wanted back to my room. My parents didn’t know how to comfort me or speak of it, since they had heard that we broke up. My mom tried to comfort me, my dad tried to comfort me, both came to talk to me and stare at the old posters in the room, which I hadn’t taken down since I was a younger fella. They wouldn’t raise the topic right away, they would just ask me if there was anything on my mind. My mom put her hand on my shoulder, asking me about Steven after a long silence and saying that not everyone ended up with their high school sweethearts, that it was only normal. But I knew that the fact that I was dating a guy, made them confused on who should speak to me, so they both came. Mom also tried to get me into a holiday mood, but all I did was play Fifa and I would actually attempt to get some booze from the liquor drawers at night, when I wouldn’t be able to sleep so that I would stop feeling for a while. But mostly I just allowed the numbness to guide me.
I was surely glass eyed, like a doll. I couldn’t even comprehend how I had looked now. Developing a crush sometimes doesn’t erase the pain but just masks it, because a rebound does nothing.
“Do you think rebounds work?” I ask Johnny quietly, watching him notice how upset I seem, because by the end of the day we just want to be loved in a way or another. I don’t even register properly that I had spoken up. I feel like it yanks me out of my daze of missing Steven, which is new rather than lusting after the striker.
“I don’t think either of us should go for a rebound. I don’t think we’re ready.” Johnny turns to me fully and stops spinning around, watching everything from the boat as we keep getting closer to the midway. I knew that we would stop and I would just lazily keep rowing around and frankly I wouldn’t mind that.
“Speak for yourself, Johnny, I would love to be fucked.” I smirk, a bit too fake. But you gotta fake it until you make it. I happen to be lying to myself far too often, just to believe it and eventually I forget about my plan and start thinking things I shouldn’t even be thinking of in the first place, like places now which I had visited with Steven. But I’m not lying, I would love to be fucked into my goddamn mattress.
“Interesting, I never pictured you as a bottom. I guess I’d just be a top.” Johnny notes, what he thinks would be the truth.
“That’s what all straight guys say and then they get a dick up their ass and magically they change sides or halfway. But I guess you’d start with topping, to see what all the party is about.” I pause. “I’m versatile though.”
“Yeah, I can’t see you taking all the time.” Johnny swings it back to me. I laugh, slowly easing up instead of faking it and I’m sure he had noticed. I got told by Steven that I’m easier to read than a book.
“Amazing. You see me fucking someone?” I say and stop rowing, still holding to make sure that we don’t swim elsewhere with the little rowing boat.
“Yeah. I thought you were a top actually…” He drifts off, but decides to finish. “You seemed very assertive.”
“Yeah, well, I had to have some initiative.” I say and my heart acts way faster than my fucking brain catches up on. “But being a top doesn’t mean anything like that, you can lay on your back all the time, be bossed around and still be a top.”
“I guess I have plenty to learn.” Johnny smiles briefly, before looking around again, but I hope he won’t be quiet the whole time.
“I know you’re pretty used to everything by now, that it all seems dull, but it’s all really pretty. I keep staring at everything new.” He remarks and I am just happy that he is speaking instead of me thinking all over about Steven. It feels like he will never fully drift away from my thoughts, that he will always linger and be there, reminding that I had left the relationship. I always blame myself even if it was all him. I did the right thing, but that’s not something the heart listens to, is it? I loved him and that’s not easy to erase.
“Well, I see that’s pretty and unique, I guess, but I’m terribly tired of the scenery.” I saw and I row once to the left, because we’re drifting slightly, but not much. I pause and he looks at me, as if telling me to speak up, but I just avoid his gaze. “I don’t even like admitting it much… but I really wish things would change.”
I lean my head back and look at the cloudless sky for today.
“I don’t want to be stuck here forever, but the problem is that I have no idea where would I even go. Hell, I don’t even know what I would do.” It even feels heavy to say it and to open up to someone else, because Steven would hear such things while stroking my hair, as I would lay on my back, awake in the dark few hours of the night, allowing both of us to just stare at each other, barely seeing.
“How do you imagine yourself in ten years?” Johnny asks suddenly.
“Probably you still being my friend or whatever, in jail for throwing Andy and Paul down the well. You would send me cards and come visit me.” I look at him, not at the sky. “Probably had an affair already.”
He motions for me to leave with my bullshit and I just laugh. Maybe he’ll crack or I will, but someone will surely get tired of this tug of war, the problem is that I don’t know if we will remain friends or become lovers? My thoughts are a mess about Johnny. I am a terrible mess about feelings apparently, because once they started sprouting with Steven, they never stopped, love and hate intertwined. But I can’t say that I hate Johnny in any way. Now, Steven is a completely different story.
“You think we’d have an affair?” I can’t look at him as he says it, so I instead look at the water, nearly falling down, so Johnny gently shoves me and I push him back. The boat moves from side to side, so we remain still and close.
“Sure.” I shrug, turning to him.
Johnny smiles briefly and looks at the water himself. I put an arm around him. Maybe we’re not ready to discuss our past.
“You’ll be alright.” I say.
“I’ll be fucking better than Ronaldo and Messi combined.” He notes and I just start laughing, but I manage to speak up.
“You’re not a fucking winger. Say something like Lewandowski or Benzema.” I say through breaks of laughter, while Johnny looks dead serious somehow. Talk about his football self esteem, but then he doesn’t seem to be struggling about that like the rest of the world which is fucking suicidal, which is fucking self harming just because they won’t look good on a selfie. Never got the appeal, because I would just not look good enough or I would notice a bad angle later. All I’ve got is a few ones for Grindr which look as flattering as I could ever look.
“Yeah, but they’re not as good. I want the following as well. And the way Cristiano Ronaldo is playing is like a striker anyway. He’s not a winger anymore.” Johnny exclaims and I just roll my eyes at him, my hand still around his shoulders and we sit on the middle of the boat, so that we don’t really fall anywhere and have a homoerotic moment like Pocahontas could’ve had.
“He’s a winger, Johnny. Get off your high horse and become a second rate Morata.” I suggest him and pull him closer, as he smirks, but is still dead serious, like he always is about football.
“He’s got a following of girls. That counts. But he’s alright. There’s better.” Johnny mops around, that I’m not exactly glossing all his abilities, because neither of us are that great and I don’t like giving people too much false hope, specifically when Johnny has so much.
“So you want to play like Morata and have the following of James Rodriguez or something? How about you just become a bad knock off of James? You’ve got the face for it.” I say and hold myself from squeezing his cheeks. Johnny turns to glare at me and I just squeeze him with my arm. I realize something. “I’ll get jealous from all the attention you’re getting.”
“Fucking hell, live a little.” He tries to mock a serious face, but then loses it. “I’m not the cheating type anyway.”
I smile a bit sour, recalling my ex.
“Good to know.” Johnny ruffles my hair fast. “So it’s settled, we’ll have an affair and you won’t hide me from the press?”
“I’ll show all my love on camera and leak a sex tape of you riding me like an animal.” The image is way too graphic and tempting, but I ignore my urges from literally going into his pants.
A big chunk of the story is dedicated to not knowing your future, what you’re doing and what’s really the point. I touched it briefly in the beginning, but as time goes Robbie keeps thinking about it and it becomes a major theme, while I felt alienated from at first when I was writing the first chapter. Everything seemed concrete in my life and I seemed to know what I was doing, but now I relate more and more to Robbie as I write the next chapters (I’m a lot further down).