“Okay,” Daniel said.
I heard a little muffle from his father. A tone of resistance and urgency, words sputtering out like the crash of water on a high diver.
“Alright,” Daniel huffed agitatedly.
Whatever their tiff was, I’m glad it wasn’t involving me for once. Richard never liked me, nor would he ever. There was no way I could see us getting along in the future, and I remember that weighing down on Daniel and I. The approval of Daniel’s family was hard on Richard’s part. Difficult to the point of impossibility. The only person who liked me was Jade; Daniel had no siblings, barely any relatives he connected with, and so he was only left with Richard.
Daniel held the front door of his apartment half-open while I rested on the wings of the doorway of his bedroom, watching from afar. Daniel refused to let him in and so their conversation was held half in and half out.
“Okay?” Richard asked, softer than I had ever heard him. Maybe it was because of the distance and the door muffling his tone.
“Alright,” Daniel said, resolutely, closing the door.
I popped out of the doorway. “I should have left.”
Daniel smiled. “No you shouldn’t.”
“It was kind of petulant of me to hide there.”
Daniel shook his head. “Not petulant. Smart idea. I already have one headache, don’t need a stronger and longer one.” He sighed, his shoulder dropping. “He’s asked me out to lunch. It’s going to be interesting.”
“Right,” I said, swinging my arms and smiling. “So, umm, I better go, I guess.”
“Oh come on, you only just got here.”
“Daniel…” I warned again, as he began creeping closer. I can see you, you know!
“Yes?” he grinned mischievously.
I looked down. “We haven’t changed you know. Not in the last few days.”
“I can change. For you, I can change,” he offered earnestly. “I’ve stopped drinking-ish.”
I chuckled, my shoulders rising at the short flutters of air. “What does that even mean?”
“It means I’m being careful now. Much more conscious.” He paused, furrowing his brows and gulping, staring at the floor and then back up at me. “I don’t want to believe that I’m an alcoholic, so I’m trying to stop without having to go to AA or whatever. I know I can do it…”
Oh, please don’t tell me you need me to help you. I’ll crumble.
“…on my own,” he finished.
I cleared my throat. “What about therapy?”
He straightened, the space between us expanding and cool air suddenly flowing. “I can’t.”
“Not ever?” No response. I tilted my head. “I’m thinking of moving back to California.” His eyes focused then. I continued. “Just for a fresh start. I think it’d be good for me.” I shrugged, avoiding his gaze. “Maybe it’d be good for the both of us.”
Using his free hand, Daniel cupped my face and brought his lips down to mine. Pushing me up against the wall, he managed to growl in between kisses, “God, if I weren’t so broken I’d lift you up and make you mine again. Make you remember all the good times we’ve had. Make you love me again.”
I knew, through the burning of his lips and the warmth of his cheeks, the moisture building up in his hair and the panting in his breath, that, in more ways than one, it was hurting him to kiss me.
***I’ve also got a new article up on VANITY & VICE and a new post up on Wattpad!***