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Alone in this room . . .

by William P. Coleman

Alone in this room...
Hand pressed to the cold dark screen
What did I do wrong?

by grasshopper


Jerry asked, "How was that for make-up sex?"

They broke into laughter.

Earlier, Luca had gotten himself in knots, fearful about Jerry's reaction to his plan to change jobs and move in with him. Then his worry had come true: Jerry's anger seemed catastrophic. Now, afterwards, Luca felt only relief. "It was perfect. We should fight more, so we could have more make-up sex."

Jerry replied, "No way, lover. I'm sorry I hurt you and I won't do it again--for anything."

They lay naked, close--Jerry on his back, Luca's cheek on Jerry's shoulder--on the rug in the room behind the living room. They were near the single chair, next to one pile of books.

Luca ran the fingers and palms of his hands through Jerry's chest hair, and then he moved his hand down across Jerry's stomach and further, to enclose Jerry's cock. He replied, "I'm not breakable."

Jerry said, "Are you cold?" He reached to cover them with Luca's gray winter jacket that had been dropped on the floor. The short jacket left the bottom parts of them exposed.

"I repeat: I'm not breakable. But I do like being cared for." After the exercise of sex, Luca was too charged up and too contented to be bothered by the cold.

Jerry replied, "I'm lucky you took me back."

"I wanted you back."

"You mean my good qualities outweigh my bad ones?"

"No. Your good qualities are identical with your bad ones."

This made Jerry laugh. "What?"

"You acted like that tonight because you're abnormally, extremely, implacably stubborn and you fiercely resist outside influences, even me. But that same quality in you also makes me happy. It's essential. Other guys want me because my looks fit their current, fashion-conscious fantasies and make me a must-have acquisition. That's all they see. But you? You're too impervious to care about that. You love me for myself. I need that like I need oxygen."

"But I should learn to be stubborn at the right times?"

"We don't have to not be ourselves: just get good at it." Luca reached so he could apply his teeth lightly to Jerry's nipple. Then he licked it and softly continued, "You're good at being you."

"Ouch! . . . Luca?" Jerry said.

"Yes." Luca smiled. "I'm still here."

"Tonight--before we started to fight--I wanted be sure to tell you something. I did say it--and then again with my body--but I want to officially re-say it in words of one syllable: I love you, Luca, always."

Tears ran down Luca's cheeks. "And I love you always."

Jerry kissed the tears and then pressed his lips to Luca's, which had become puffy. He said, "We almost lost it."

"I thought so too. But I knew we couldn't break up; that's why I stayed by the picnic table."

"We came too close to the edge. It's not an experiment we should repeat."


"Can you take tomorrow off work?"

"I suppose. What's on your mind?"

"We'd go to the high school--bring in a letter turning down the new job they offered you."

"I still don't get it. You'd want to give up your house and move to Buffalo with me?"

"Because you don't want really to move away from your friends and family."

"No, but I'd like living here, and I'd be happy to do it for you."

"I know you would. Now that we've succeeded in establishing that fact, I no longer need the house. What I need is the man who was willing to give up his job and his apartment for me."

Luca said, "What I need is you."

"We each want to sacrifice for the other, but it's my turn now."


"All my life it's been about protecting myself. I lived in fear people won't want me. I never let anyone close to take anything from me--even though I had to give up to stay safe like that. . . . When I was a boy, this house was the symbol of the craziness around me that I needed to rebel against. It was too confusing: I wanted to grow up--but not become my parents. I was gay. I liked Matt and loved having sex with him. He had our whole lives planned out--but he wasn't my whole life. I was at war--inside myself--with everyone. . . . I'm not apologizing: the choices I made were probably as good as they could have been. . . . I ran away. Then, last year, I moved back here. It symbolized what I never got to do as a teenager: to grow up. I was adult enough to know that. You found me and I did grow up. Now what's important is permanently you."

"Mrs. Fitzsimmons will be disappointed if I don't take the job."

"Mrs. Fitzsimmons?"

"She was the head of the committee that interviewed me. She was super, super kind to me."

"No surprise there."

"She told me to believe in myself--that you would love me."

"We can talk to her and thank her for everything. This will be the second time I'll have gone to say I'm moving away and to ask her if I can sometimes come back for help with my French. . . . This time, I'm an adult, not a kid hoping nobody notices me in school. Now I'm her friend, who no longer needs much help with his French."

Jerry moved his face to Luca's, their lips a quarter inch apart but the tips of their noses touching side-by-side and their breath mingling with the room air each time they breathed it in.

Luca spoke: "We fought, but I didn't leave. I waited by the picnic table, and you looked for me."

Jerry slid his tongue through Luca's lips to taste them and then drew it back. ". . . nor falls under the blow of thralled discontent, whereto th'inviting time our fashion calls."

Luca laughed. "What?"

"No, it was builded far from accident . . ."

"A poem?"

Jerry looked up at the piles of books near them, then reached for one in the bookcase by the window. He opened it, found a page, and recited:


If my dear love were but the child of state
It might, for Fortune's bastard, be unfathered,
As subject to Time's love or to Time's hate,
Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered.
No, it was builded far from accident;
It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
Under the blow of thralled discontent,
Whereto th'inviting time our fashion calls:
It fears not Policy, that heretic,
Which works on leases of short-numbered hours,
But all alone stands hugely politic,
That it nor grows with hear, nor drowns with showers.
To this I witness call the fools of Time,
Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime.

Luca said, "Yet another poem I don't understand."

"Nobody does. It's one of the most obscure of Shakespeare's Sonnets."

"I mean, I know what it means. I just don't understand it."

"It makes more sense as time goes by."

"Like being in love? It's never completed. You never get your accounts audited and paid off."

"Love isn't an object--like my house. You don't try to fix it up to get it exactly the way you want and then it just sits there so you can own it and it's always the same."

"The things we do change meaning with the circumstances. Shakespeare's poem says that something might be a weed when we're gathering weeds--but when we gather flowers it can be a flower. A gesture expresses different meanings, so if we force it into an unvarying state it could be lost altogether. It keeps changing."

"Right. You don't want love to end."

"What stays through change is us: the makers, the doers."

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