To The One That Got Away

To The One That Got Away

“What exactly are we doing?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” you replied, the light from your phone reflecting on unsteady eyes.

“Don’t be silly, Paul. Is this like a random hookup or something more?’

“Which do you think it is?” you shot back, finally looking into my face, matching my tone. “Wait…” You paused, your thin lips spreading out into a smile. “Are you high?”

I rolled my eyes. “A few shots of Vodka is not enough to make me high. It’s just…I’m mature, and this doesn’t have to be anything.”

Without saying anything in response, you returned to typing on your keypad.

I felt empty, like the vanquished. So I untangled myself from you and turned to the side of the bed, drawing the bed sheets up to my chin. Hiding my naked form. You turned, held me and kissed me and the world burst anew into a thousand colours.

I awoke to your absence. Then I saw your feelings in text, bright on my phone’s screen: Want to figure out this thing between us?

And that was how it started, the chains that would forever bind me to you. I went with you to your political rallies, met your friends, and you met mine, even said Ifedi, my best friend, reminded you of your childhood and laughter. I came for sleepovers, you did too. Brought your horror movies with you and I loaned you my romantic telenovelas. Then one night, when we went in desperate search of where to get our midnight cravings, you kissed me in the middle of my street at Maryland Avenue, and my world crashed and pooled at your feet.

You took me home for a week, on a school short break that I refused to spend with my overbearing sisters. And I met your family, even Nonye, your only sister. I adored the way she was loved and the way she returned that love, extending it to me. I can swear I saw disappointment in her eyes when I announced I was leaving. I even slept in the same room you’d slept in since your childhood, purring like a cat every time we made love amidst your boyhood memorabilia.

And then came Stella, born into our conversation one morning as we lay on your bed. Initially, you’d talked about her as one of your exes. We’d talked about mine too, so I brushed it away. Or at least I tried to. But I felt a stubborn mound that would not let me move on. I tried to move past it, but I couldn’t forget how you said she loaned you money to support your campaign. You told me you had even considered going back to her, before you met me. She was still your friend, at least that was what you told me, and I believed that until I discovered how wrong I was two months later, when a text came from her while you were in the shower. My shower. I went through the previous chatversation till there was nothing else you could hide. You even told her that you needed her to save you! I was the bloody villain in the story.

I laughed at you, then at myself. Even cried a little. You said nothing except how sorry you were and how you occasionally felt pulled back to girls. You said they were ‘moments of weakness.’ I slapped you, told you it was over. I still remember the morning chill you let in when you opened the door to leave. I drowned the remaining black bullets you left in the fridge and sat on the bathroom floor, each drop of the running shower reminding me of the time we spent in here together, straining against each other, skin against skin, stoking the heat under the water sluicing down our bodies. I puked, cried and puked again, and then I called you.

The next few weeks saw us together again. There was no heat any longer. We weren’t cuddling in your bed or spooning in mine. We were at bars with the boys. You didn’t stare shared secrets into my eyes, draw smiles with your dimples, or secretly send me flirty emojis. You simply patted my back when you delivered a punch line to a joke. I was the referee at your match with the Crescents Team, your team made up of neighbours at Crescent Street. I did a horrible job of it.

I had decided to be anything to be near you and to support you. Make you return to me like Stella did, even though I wanted to shake you so hard, it’d make your head rattle on your broad shoulders. But I failed at that too. Stella still called often when we were alone. Nonye even stopped texting me. I fought and fought and I lost.

Then I realised that you never really answered my question.

What exactly are we doing?

You’d said: Want to figure out this thing between us?

I realized we never really figured it out. Or maybe I believed what you allowed me to believe.

Written by Vince

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  1. Mandy
    April 06, 07:34 Reply

    The mistake that most gay men make with relationships is they never talk about getting together. It’s always implied or there’s an assumption made. But there’s hardly a conversation to formally say “Yes we are dating” or “Yes we are in an exclusive relationship”. And this always leads to trouble, when there’s no conversation.

  2. Black Dynasty
    April 06, 07:48 Reply

    *Sighs*… I’ve been in this situation before and I feel for you. The guy was likely not interested in committing to you

    The “want to figure this thing out between us?” or anything along those temporary lines is almost just a place holder to keep you there for as long as possible whilst the benefits of sex/companionship/affection are realised with no commitment. When he finds the one he wants, he will move on.

    When a man is legit interested in you, his actions and words will communicate that.

  3. Real
    January 08, 08:36 Reply

    The short story moved me, sorry Vince 😢

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