When civilization has moved from Earth into space, are things really all that different?
Late night shuttles glide past below the edges of the roof, humming in the warm air. It’s technically dawn, even though it says three in the morning when Gerard checks his watch. The sun is poking over the horizon.
Gerard turns to watch Frank, seeing his eyes closed and his face calm. Frank has an insistent profile, stubborn chin and sharp eyebrows, but a soft-looking nose. His features are clearly Italian, short with dark hair and olive skin, and his temper is to follow the same pattern his appearance set. It’s unusual, even though they happen to be in Italy. It’s not exactly Italy, though. It’s New Italy, which means they’re lying on a rooftop in New Napoli. Usually, people all over the world appear to be mixed up and of no distinguishable origin, but Frank is Italian.
Gerard himself is pale and pudgy around the edges, and he feels more than a little self-conscious when Frank opens his nougat eyes.
”I don’t want you to leave” Frank says timidly, ”I don’t ever want you to leave, Gerard. I’ll marry you and we’ll adopt a dog and I’ll kiss you good morning in the evening and good night at dawn”
Gerard smiles at Frank’s words, memories of their past summer swirling up like dust in his mind. He wishes he could stay, He’d love to marry Frank and get a dog. He’d love to sleep through the days and watch the slumbering city from the roof at night. But he can’t.
”I’ll come back next summer” Gerard reassures as he leans in to kiss Frank’s chapped lips.
Frank is nineteen, Gerard is twentyfour. They might worry about many things, but time isn’t one of them. They’ll have more summers, later on maybe an entire life, togther.
New Napoli, New Italy
I know that letters are old fashioned and slow, that this might not even get to you. But I’ve tried to reach you through every possible media, without success.
I tried to contact you over the web, but you seem to be gone. I tried calling you, but your number has been deactivated.
This is my last try.
I won’t try to reach you anymore, because if I keep on searching for you, I’m afraid I might find out things that I’d rather not know of.
If you do happen to read this, though, I hope you’re well. I hope you have a home and a studio of your own, a beautiful wife. Maybe even beautiful, bright eyed children. I’d want that for you, Gerard. For you to be happy.
Basically, this is just to tell you that I’m okay. I’m not good, just okay. It’s no one’s fault but my own, so don’t blame yourself for anything. Especially things you didn’t do. I know you tend to do that a lot.
I live with my dog. Her name is Pansy. I think you might remember her? She used to be a stray puppy while you were here, she ate biscuits out of our palms. She’s getting old now, and so am I. If you can call someone old at the age of thirty. At least I feel old.
Every day except sundays, I go to work at the coffee house, the same coffee house I worked at when we met. I’m a manager now. Practically own the place. It’s the third best thing in my life, first being Pansy and second being sleep. So really, my life isn’t all bad. They won’t let me work sundays no matter how I beg, though. I would if they’d let me, but there’s some kind of law that requires employees to be granted a certain amount of vacation.
I keep myself busy reading books. The librarians at the local library know me by nickname since long ago, and they even quit running my books through the check-out. I like old fashioned books, just like you prefer drawing with graphite and paper above those retina screens, no matter how bright they are. That’s why I write this, because I know you’re the kind of person who’d still read paper mail. I hope you still have the same adress.
It’s kind of on it’s way back, you know? Writing letters. They sell envelopes and stamps in the deposit store down the street. I think it’s nice, I’ve always loved the old ways. I used to ace every quiz on the pre-emmigration era, you know. It’s kind of strange how civilization really hasn’t changed that much. I mean, we still have phones and internet and sort of cars. It’s like we’re reluctant to really let go of the old times.
I have a neighbor, mrs. Barnes. Her grandmother was born on Earth, in London. Real, proper, English London. There’s pictures, mrs. Barnes has showed me, from long ago. She has loads of them tucked away in her computer. I think some of them date all the way back to 2012, even. Maybe further.
I wish we could have lived back then. Things seemed so carefree, people and animals and plants living side by side. I know because mrs. Barnes told me, that people might smile in all the pictures, but really they’d frown just as much as we do now. When there was no camera, no one to impress. I find it hard to believe, all I’ve ever seen of the old times are smiling faces.
I’m sorry. I din’t mean to ramble, but sometimes, words just tumble out of me. You know that, though. It used to happen to you all the time, too. But you always said such clever things. I just babble.
I miss you Gerard. Your eyes and your voice and the way you smell. Actually, I’ve forgotten your scent completely, but I still miss it. I know you smell like cigarettes and I can remember that scent. I still smoke the same brand we both did. But they don’t smell like you because you had this other scent too. But I forgot.
All I have now are photographs. On retina screens. And a sketch you did of me, I’m smiling. I still do, when I think of you. Then I feel like I’m about to cry, but I still smile.
I love you, Gerard. Forever.
There was only one thing that didn’t change no matter how many times your e-mail was hacked, your phone stolen.
Gerard had forgotten he even had one until he was notified that he had a letter to pick up. Curiosity rose like a flag and Gerard was almost sure people noticed his excitement as he walked down the street toward the automatic post-office.
His fingerprints and irises scanned fine, even though the pads of all the digits on his right hand were stained with ink. The scanner didn’t seem to mind.
When the plain white envelope eventually came whirring out of the machine, Gerard was bursting with nerves. Who’d write him? Who the fuck even wrote real paper mail these days? Gerard had actually never seen anyone at the post office, ever, and people were stopping in their tracks to look at Gerard and the square of (probably artificial) cellulose in his hands.
”Is that a letter, boy?” An old woman hollered from the other side of the street. Gerard just tucked the paper in his hoodie pocket and hollered back,
”Yes ma’am!” And then he proudly walked down the street, head held high.
For weeks, people all around Belleville, New New Jersey, would be talking about Gerard Way. The one with the letter. But Gerard wouldn’t be there to hear it, he’d be gone on the same night he recieved the letter.
In New Napoli there would be some commotion in a local coffee house and for the first time in eleven years, someone would step onto the roof where the late-night shuttles hum past at three in the morning, just when the sun begins to rise.