I didn't want to think that this could be the last time I would see home for a reason that I might just not be alive. I thought of other men telling how they had seen hell in war and it didn't matter what would happen anymore. I wondered if those who fought would go to Heaven or Hell. Would we be sinners for spilling so much blood? Me specifically as a gunner, I would be responsible for not just one death, but an entire enemy ship. Did that send me to a deeper circle of Hell?
I ended up knocking on Matt's door, greeting his mother who was just as happy and surprised to see me as if I had just come off the platform and just as if I was her own son, she inspected me to see how I had aged with her own eyes. Matt was deep in a nap, but I decided to wake him up anyway, after all the hassle of going up the same old stairs past photos of my dear childhood sweetheart. I ended up watching him for a brief while, as I was holding the door. I didn't know what to do as my whole body ached to just lay besides him, forget about all the other loves I've had and give in to my first one. Was the first one the true one? Was it really that one? Just because it had yanked me open?
I wake him up and sit on the other end of the bed, kicking my shoes off and just resting my legs on his bed. Matt looks at me sleepily and bewilderedly and by now I should be used to people's confusion, but that is still not the case for me. He just keeps looking at me softly, as if no other love stood between us and I end up shifting slowly to his side, as if it were yesterday again and we could continue the same kiss and somehow get much more. I don't want the hook up to just become a hook up, I don't want to remain thinking that I could have done more and I didn't.
He doesn't kiss me.
He doesn't say a word and I wish I could read his mind, so I lean and kiss his forehead just because life keeps going and there is never an ending until you die, life gives more complications and more twists and somehow much more love, depth and understanding, as if the novel was never enough.
What if he won't love me tomorrow?
I try to calm myself down and I hug myself, as he is still trying to even hold his eyes open and failing, I have to poke him a few times to make sure he stays awake. Eventually he falls asleep again and turns around, which causes me to just stare at the ceiling and eventually I close my own eyes and I don't even know where all this desire to sleep comes out from, but then I barely get any sleep with Jamie and I'm sure that with age it will catch up and I won't stay up as late anymore. I end up fading away thinking of how would it be later on, how will we continue sneaking around and if there was any hope for America. But there was no hope for queer men and nothing was even imaginable. It's some sort of consolation if you manage to go on with life without getting caught just like all the other men who came before us.
Maybe we were both stalling because we didn't know what to say. Was it really it?
We had slept until lunch time, at least that's what it sounded like with Matt's mom knocking on Matt's door. I still sat up fast and moved away from Matt, as she opened the door. But it wasn't a first that we had napped together and the benefit of it all is that no matter how hard you try people will still see it as friendship between two men. Of course in this case nothing had happened.
“Alex, will you join us for lunch then?” She asks politely and it was my turn to see how much she had changed. She seemed to be ageing well or possibly it was because I just saw her as Matt's mom and liked her always with that sole fact. Since we were best friends it was obvious that the parents would accept the other's child and slowly became friends themselves and now were both parents of a navy boy.
“Yeah, I'd love to.” I ponder if I should've given my own mother a call, but I'm not sure what the use would be at this point, I just hope that no extra food will go to waste. I shake Matt lightly as she walks away, leaving the task in my hands and I hope not to fail.
I decide that I can easily just talk to Matt afterwards even if I don't have the right words aligned to speak up. Lunch was taken quite slowly, mostly because Matt was still sleepy and I wondered if he had decided to go elsewhere after the dinner last night or maybe he just stayed awake. He had told me once that he would go through everything in his room nostalgically, and maybe yesterday was one of those nights or days. I thought that I would remember that, but eventually I decided that it's better to sort of pick off where we left off, because if he just kisses me like that what does that even mean? I watched his parents and they both stated that they were proud of us boys, serving the country and all, and that America would be safe under our guns and wings.
I felt guilty as Matt offered to go into town again for a drink, so as soon as we left the house we both lit our cigarettes. It felt like it would be dark, because it felt like we had slept to dinner time, but alas. It was sunny and warm enough for the current season.
I couldn't ask him if he loved me.
Or could I even utter such words out loud?
“Do you love me?”
“What kind of question is that, Al?” And he looks at me, to see me pale and ask it, a question which has weighed on my shoulders for years and seems to be like a pendulum, because I always come back to him. He looks away, inhaling and then down. “Of course I do.”
He looks back at me.
“Do you love me?” He ping-pongs the question. I nod before I speak, as if the letters would wobble in front of me. Matt doesn't even allow me to speak up and we continue walking under the trees which had grown over the years, just like we had and soon enough we'd get closer to the town. “But you're with another man.”
I can't throw the same back at him. I think he's single. And I am supposedly committed, but am I really when we had talked about us with other men? I think of Jamie briefly, because this is about me and Matt after all, so I discard my lover, as if he were a wedding ring. I feel like this conversation is slow, dreaded and far too painful, filled with different riddles where we hold hands and don't understand them at all in some kind of Wonderland.
“You still kissed me... knowing that.” I quickly pick up the pause.
“You're the one cheating behind his back.” He realizes how stingy that might sound. And takes the blame to only shift it onto me, making himself safe and glossy. “Sorry, that sounded far too harsh.”
I thought that I'd have the answer to that, but instead I just look down at my feet, exhaling the cigarette smoke, letting it mix with the feelings and I just think of the milkshake that I could get in town, but then maybe I should choose alcohol for once and switch subjects just for my own sake. Is Matt someone who I should talk commitment to? A man who had wanted a lady in every port? Was it somehow different because I was in a relationship with a man? Was it because word had gotten out that it was serious, since I had taken him out of a marriage? Was that the word out of the mouth? Was it really all that people had thought of me and were that a bad thing? But what did they really think of Jamie? I was surprised that word about Miles hadn't travelled. Maybe Matt saw me as heavily infidel because I had slept with him when I mentioned that I was into another man?
It had been so long ago.
Days come and they go, leaving nothing behind besides memories in an hour glass which somehow shows that death is coming but it seems to be taking forever and that is somehow no reason for alarm.
Matt looks at me, sadly, realizing that he had lost the topic and decided to ask me how was the ship, how was work and decided to leave it at that. We didn't kiss again.
We didn't kiss under the trees either. Just like I had imagined in my childhood.
I still didn't have much time to think. Me and Matt decided to act as if nothing had happened and he would avoid discussing Jamie all together, just eyeing me once when mom handed me a letter from a James Hince, who I said was a dear friend from the ship. I ripped open the letter, as I had read all the poems Jamie had given me, terrified that I had broken some code with Matt, so Jamie would've been angry or disappointed in me somehow. I read every word slowly, tracing his handwriting with my own fingers, as if I could feel him digging the pen in. I had cried that night because of two men.
Letters arrived late, but more than I had expected and I would reply to them right away, Matt with me in the post office and doing just one remark maybe I should've written to someone else to make it less suspicious, but then he looked around, to make sure we were alone besides the lady which was digging in a mail drawer, that perhaps I was right and we were immune.
After all, since we worked together, couldn't we have become close friends? It's always the close friendship which ends up being two guys fucking each other behind their wives' back only in our case, there was even a divorce involved and no wife on my end, besides a phony girlfriend photo I held just in case and with Lana holding her end of the bargain. I should tell her to start writing me letters far more often.
I went to bed every night with the mere thought that I should raise the subject again, no matter how hurt I was feeling and at least somehow manage to put it to rest, put it to peace. Matt dominated my dreams and I wondered what if I was in love with another Matt, with the Matt that was always there for me and wouldn't shy away from a subject and told me to go get whomever I had wanted. The Matt that I had kissed and slept with once. It all seemed like sole occasions, nearly ceremonial. By the time I finally decide that it's time to have the talk, it is a cold morning. I end up overdressing or maybe it's my anxiety rocking from side to side and I think of myself as a child on a rocking horse. I end up knocking on Matt's door very early, confused by the slow response time and I knock harder, until Matt's mom shows up on the doorstep all in tears. But she seems pleased to see me.
“Matt got called in earlier.” Were her first words through older tears, which I hadn't seen her cry. I take a step back, as if I were to fall down, but instead I just hold onto nothing, trying to keep my legs standing.
“Oh. Right.” She stares at me, wishing probably that her son had much more time with her than seeing me all these remaining days. But then Matt's shore leave had started earlier, maybe it was due for him already. Then her eyes shine up, recalling something. She turns back to get a letter from the window sill and she hands it to me.
Maybe I should've counted that Matt would be gone by now. I should've talked to him much earlier.
I don't know how to comfort her, but I do hug her and we hold onto each other. I wish during the hug, that she never finds out my feelings and the odd web between us. I don't think she would ever be able to stomach it since Matt had always shown interest in women, it was me who was the late bloomer to everyone. I had even shown the photo of Lana to all of our parents and an amused Matt, who just said that Lana was the perfect girl for me and that she does indeed miss me, but a certain time will come, he said, that we would both be reunited, possibly after the war.
The war had caused an eruption of talk, specifically what was going on in Britain, making summer's colour a popular blood red with disruptions of the living and dead. I'm sure the dead were shifting in their graves. But the topic was soon dropped, because all should be feared, if it's moving at a rapid speed and dominating everything on its way.
Matt and me discussed the war sometimes, but it was just something which was rapidly colouring our minds a dark colour and since we were navy, it would be a heavier war in our minds than combat, we wouldn't be out on the front, we'd be fighting everything in a different way, like we were trained and waiting for any second to be blown up while on the ships.
It was a different war, it was a waiting and more precise war.
I decided to go back home and turn on the radio just to listen what was going on, as if someone's death could somehow distract me and I decided to sit and listen, missing the reports which Commander Molko would tell us and now here I was, listening to the reports myself, hearing what was lost and how many lives we had lost.
I don't know why I decided to colour my worries with war, but maybe it was enough for me to cry under in my room.
I actually started thinking and wondering for once what would befall America and how the fuck would we get away from all of this. As much as I had no patriotism, I didn't want the lands to fall to Hitler and I didn't want anything gone like what was happening with Europe. And even if it felt like I would be doing nothing, it was better than just surviving a few days on the front. My mind was racing. How many days would one even survive on the front these days? I started crying even harder. Maybe this was all the fear I had been holding inside me and then I decided to rip open the letter, but my eyes were far too blurry to read it and I held it with trembling hands, seeing tears drip on it as I wanted to tear it to shreds and tell myself that one man is enough. No need to chase for a love which was long gone.
It's only fitting that in the honor of To Miles' 3rd anniversary I give To Miles a 3rd Nanowrimo shot. I actually wrote this quite a few days ago and I just didn't have the energy to post it and I was struggling to write, so I didn't get anything done. But with Nanowrimo rolling in, it's going to be much easier now to write because I'll simply have to.
I get inspired a lot in the bad way if I watch something or read and then write right away, because my thoughts are crowded with impressions and whatnot. And that's how the first few paragraphs came to be because me and Callie watched Apocalypse Now and I was kind of left wanting much more, I probably expected it to be as good as Full Metal Jacket but I didn't get the bond, so yeah. But overall it just made me realize how interesting the Vietnam war was. Another weird thing is that we accidentally watched the extended version so that could've been it why I didn't really click with it so well. Who knows. But it still inspired me, so if you know what I'm talking about you'll find a reference.
I kept pondering on how Alex would/could ask Matt when it came to whether Matt loved him or not and then, knowing Alex, I just realized that it would just be so straight forward so I went with it.
I just kind of went forward and just kept sprinting and onwards, I'm really just trying to tell the story here and I'm excited to go further on with Nano, it's going to get exciting! Well, it already is, but I'll finally be revealing plots I've been dying to do for years!
If you enjoyed it, please tell me so and thank you