Frerard. They promised to keep it only for the summer, but thank God that's a promise to remain broken.
I wonder sometimes what I'd do without him as we climb back into the van, inhaling its summer heat and rubbery plastic. He doesn't know that he's killing me when he smiles, breaking me down with ever heated, quiet breath. It scares me to think of life without him, to maybe be somewhere where his body isn't ten steps and an 'easy does it' away. We knew it couldn't last longer than one summer, and one shitty tour across the West coast. It seems too sinister to think of winter, to think of us not being together. Usually he's right next door; when October than December than February comes, it's going to kill me to know that I won't be seeing his breath, puffing along in the cold right next to mine. I thought we were the kids of Jersey, and we'd ride this one out forever. Not this time. Not for fall, or winter. Probably not spring. And never, ever summer; we had one free pass and we used it, ravishingly.
“I'll call” He says, smiling all wistful with his hazel eyes. I put my hand on his warm cheek, gracing my fingers over to where the bruises of exhaustion grace his skin. He's been beating himself up over this, playing too hard at shows just to get it off of his mind. I know he'll call, but will he remember who it is that holds his heart; I've heard that living without one can be so easy. He just keeps on smiling, but now all I see is bared teeth. He's not happy, I'm not happy. Then why do we do it?
I am a savior of destruction, the keeper of its flame. It's like I'm some sort of beggar, hoping for the worst. Like I use the stringy muscle of my heart as a chokingstring, letting it wrap its way around my neck and pull itself close; holding me tight. It's like we welcome inevitable pain; we make up rules to follow and we just do it – it doesn't even matter who it hurts in the end. It's like women's corsets in the Victorian era; I'm sure they were killer, but they were a rule. Pain is a rule, restriction is a requirement. The things I've done to keep myself sane.
Greasy hair falls into my face, black and impatient against my forehead. I really needed to drive him home; it was a three am flight from JFK and there's no way he could get enough sleep, even if he started yesterday. My hands grip the steering wheel as we descend from our rocky, bloody sun horizon and down to the freeway below. We swerve into traffic and I curse halfheartedly. Even the traffic is hurting me, stretching out an inevitable goodbye. He taps his inked knuckles against the window, and says that Bob is probably going to be mad we just up and took the van without his permission. I shrug, sighing. They probably understand.
I want to ask him not to leave, but this agreement was made to the bathroom tiles in the beginning of May. We just needed a guitarist for the summer, and the summer only. And I wanted his love for the summer, and come September I figured I wouldn't need it. But September seemed so far away back then, and here it is – biting our throat, pushing its way to the forefront of our calendars and cell phones. It was supposed to be such an easy arrangement; okay friends who sort of knew each other make the best band mates, the best quick loves when the nights are lonely and the motel's sheets are just so stiff. We said no sex, but that lasted only a few weeks, maximum. He said he'd never done something like that before, he never felt the same way about a guy. And I just smiled as I laid him on him on his back, soft and slow and gentle. Suddenly, we weren't band mates and fuck-buddies. Suddenly I found myself falling.
I'm so sorry. I wish I were a ghost.
He's a fucking idiot for getting that shit tattooed on himself; he knew we wouldn't last. Didn't he? When he came to me in the night, drunken tears all over his porcelainic face, I knew that's when we had gone too far. He tried to shush me, tried to get me to fill him up, be with him. I pushed him away; why didn't he understand we couldn't last. I remember hissing at him, angry. It's for the band, Frank. You can't ruin this for us. But he said he was leaving the band anyways. He shut me up, revealed the truth. I'm a coward. I don't know how to do this, I don't know how to commit. But I knew the second I exited his small, aching body that he wasn't like anything else I had ever been with. Like anything I had ever understood.
I park around the corner and pull the key from the ignition. The engine shutters, rumbles, and dies again. Everything turns quiet and I feel myself being pulled towards him. I'm so afraid he'll be my downfall, so afraid he'll be my kryptonite. My playful mercury. It's just that lifetime of insecurity gnawing at my insides, killing my bones. But he was the one who helped me get sober, the one that stayed up nights when I needed a guitarist to help me write. Ray wouldn't have ever done a thing like that. Only him, with his clear voice and sleepy smiles. Mine.
My stomach hurts as he opens the door, a small smile carved into his face, so unnatural. I feel myself being pulled towards him like a magnet, like I can't be apart for one second. This is going to hurt, but at least it's happening now. He looks like he wants to kiss me, but something seems to hold him back. Probably the fact that I asked him not to. And I watch him get small as I drive away, eyes still shining in the rearview mirror.
And I can't stop crying, can't catch a single breath.
I don't really feel myself move until one am, something rousing me and forcing my bones out of bed. It's that awful feeling of making a mistake, when you realize that you've done something awful. I drag myself around the room, haphazardly trying to find something to wear. Quickly realizing that nothing is going to work, I stay in my sweats and ragged tee-shirt, than run downstairs, making sure to pad quietly past Mikey's door. My brother might be blind as a bat, but he sure has a bat's hearing.
He doesn't see me when I crawl inside of his bed and watch him get ready. I feel more than a little creepy as I watch him dress, eyes swollen and lids heavy from lack of sleep and tears. But I know him, hes like clockwork. As much of an energizer bunny as he may be, hes still one of those kids who needs to sleep just as much. It's my favorite thing, to watch him sleep against me, feel his heated body curl in its own dreams. Dreams I knew were of me. He does exactly as I knew he would; climbs back into bed with his clothes still on, tired body sinking against the sheets. How could I have thought that sleeping without this and not taking a risk was better than sleeping with this and taking the risk? I roll over on top of him, and he screams. It's not totally as romantic as I was hoping, but it's kind of dramatic as he brainlessly claws at me as I calm him down.
“You came back.” He says, tired voice now thick with tears. I nod and feel myself crying, too. Whatever mercury he holds inside of himself, I want it. Not the disillusionment I have that everything with love is destruction. Maybe there's a chance. I finger the tattoos on his forearm and wrist, the way he marked himself like one would with a razor. He just wanted to know I was there. Well, here I am, my boy of cancer and dark arts.
Let me love you for the winter.