|Repose Remembers (reposeremembers) wrote in repose,|
@ 2020-04-10 22:22:00
|Entry tags:||jamie mayer, plot: memories|
Will characters be viewing the memory or experiencing it?: Experiencing
Warning, this memory contains: Garden-variety angst
Friday, December 24th, 2010. 4:32 p.m.: There has been no activity at 346 68th Street for 10 days, 22 hours, and 17 minutes.
On Friday, December 17th, at approximately 6:05 p.m., a "For Rent" sign went up in the window: Red background, white border, white letters, and a phone number scrawled in black Sharpie: 212-555-2393.
On Saturday, December 18th, at 10:32 a.m., I placed a call to the number and set up an appointment to view the apartment. I'm tall enough for my age that with a little bit of hair gel, I don't look unlike a college student looking for a new place before school starts up in January.
On Sunday, December 19th, at 12:30 p.m., I met the real estate agent to view the apartment. I had only been there once before; the stray cats were gone, the plants in their pots, and the expensive, but impersonal furniture. I walked through with the agent, putting on the show: chatting amiably about my enthusiasm for living in the city. All the while, trying to feel him in that space. It was like he'd never been.
Until, tucked away in the closet of what had once been his bedroom, I found something at last: in a simple white pot, a single specimen of Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ Plant, Zanzibar Gem, Aroid Palm, Emerald Palm, Eternity Plant). It wasn't in terrible shape, considering it is a plant built to withstand drought, but I asked the real estate agent if I might take it with me anyway. Better than leaving it behind to die. It's a shadow of a thing to remember anyone by.
I look at it now as I try for the fourth time to tie the knot in my red-and-green Christmas tie. Thanks, Men's Living blog, you're trying, but I'm pretty sure the tie is smarter than whoever wrote the article on How To Tie The Perfect Tie. Fortunately, horticultural blogs are a lot more intelligent and the plant is looking...well, short of undeath as some horrible plant zombie. But, it's hard not to look at it and see him, instead. Wonder what he's doing for Christmas. 10 days, 22 hours, 26 minutes after the last time I saw him, my unskilled fingers finally manage to move the fabric around in just the right way to knot the tie.
"C'mon! We're going to be late!" All of this fuss for Dad's work Christmas party. I insisted that I didn't want to go, but he didn't want me spending Christmas Eve alone in the apartment. I think he's trying to distract me. He knows I've been...involved, lately.
"You could've helped with my stupid tie," I accuse as I join him in the kitchen, half-into my overcoat.
"That's how you learn," was all he replied with a shrug and a grin.
"I thought dads were supposed to teach you stuff like that." Dad's car is a 2005 Hyundai Elantra. Black, gray interior. Doesn't see much use during the week. It's cold, but it will warm up just in time for us to reach the party center or wherever this thing is taking place. I haven't asked.
"You look nice," he comments, starting up the car and adjusting the vents so they're not blowing frigid 38-degree air into our faces. A hint of snow is just starting to fall. I'm reaching over to buckle my seat belt, then:
At 4:48 p.m., Friday, December 24th, 2010, a white 2009 Toyota Camry pulls up to the front of 346 68th Street, Woodridge, Queens. And he gets out of the car. It drives off, moving east.
"Dad, stop!" He's about to put the car into drive.
"Did you forget something?"
I'm already opening the door, though. "Go on without me, I--" I'm almost gasping for breath, my heart beating so hard it feels like it's compressing my lungs in its bid to take up as much space in my chest cavity as possible.
He reaches out and puts a hand on my arm before I can completely bolt from the vehicle. "Hey." He looks away from me to follow my gaze across the street, then back. "You sure? I don't want you to spend Christmas Eve alone."
I lick my lips. They're a little chapped. "I won't be," I tell him. He nods and gives me a smile; he somehow understands all of this without me having to say a word. I always take him for granted, think maybe he doesn't know what's really going on with me, that he couldn't remember what it's like to be my age, but I'm really grateful for him in this moment. "Thanks. Have fun!"
I manage a smile and close the door as I step away. Then I'm running across the street in too-nice shoes that are too tight. I haven't worn them for 6 months and 19 days, not since Dad had made me go with him to a friend's wedding.
He's got his back to me at the door, unlocking it with his key. He's as I remembered him, which shouldn't be a surprise, given the short period of time that somehow also has felt like several lifetimes: dark, straight hair that has a habit of falling over one eye. Black leather jacket, dark jeans, but a yellow scarf.
"Hey! Wait!" I call. He turns, and I don't give him a chance to reply because I'm pretty bad about that, I'll admit. "Dude, where have you been?"
"...sorry," he says, and at least has the grace to look a little bit ashamed. "I...my ride is looking for a place to park. I'm just here to pick up something I left behind." He's got an arm around his middle - his right - holding onto his left forearm just above the elbow. He's not wearing gloves, and I think that he should be.
"Your Zamioculcas zamiifolia, right?" My hand goes up to his shoulder, like I want to shake all the truth out of him. But it just rests there. To my surprise, he puts his hand on my wrist with an unsurprised "Yeah."
I'm kind of irritated, thinking he should have more to say. Thinking that he should at least act surprised or impressed that I found a way into his apartment to find the plant he'd left behind. I let him go and turn away, facing back toward my apartment, across the road. "Well, it's at my place. Come on."
We don't talk on the short walk over, and I can't remember a silence that has been more uncomfortable, more full of things unsaid. I unlock the door and take him back to my bedroom. It's not very neat - not that it ever really was - but my mind has been extra elsewhere for the past 10 days. "So...my room is still a mess," I needlessly explain. "I hope you don't mind." The bed I sleep in, the bottom bunk, is unmade. There's an open notebook and a discarded beanie on the floor. My laptop is still balancing on the corner of the dresser, the tie-tying blog still up. He doesn't ask about that, or why I'm dressed up. He's never been the curious one in this...in all this.
He goes to the plant, sitting on my desk, and lays his hand atop it. "It's really grown." He picks it up, looking it over.
"Yeah, I've been taking care of it, I sorta hoped...I-I mean, I thought you might come back for it."
He's leaving, I know that now. Not just for a few days, but he's going to be gone and I'm scrambling, really, for anything. I close the bedroom door and lean back against it casually. "So...you wanna give me your email or your phone number before you go this time?"
He won't meet my eyes and I know that's bad. "Yeah, about that. I didn't know it would take this long to stop back here. My schedule's been packed..."
And of course, I have a billion questions. He's been so close-mouthed about everything. "Okay...that's a start. Go on!"
"There's not much more to say. Again, sorry."
I groan. "This again?" And I'm getting mad; I can feel the heat in my face and the tension of the past week and a half, and I know all the physiological changes that come with the emotion: increased heart rate and tensed muscles, the biological anticipation of physical aggression. It manifests in my voice: "Do you know what I've been through? Wondering what the hell was going on? You could've told me you were moving!" I shout, pointing my finger at his chest.
The way he shies back makes me feel ashamed. I don't ever want to hurt him; not with words or in any other way. I'm still mad, though. I'm the one who's feeling hurt. The wronged party, here! "You figured it out anyway," he tells me, and he's almost got a smile on his face, like he's proud of me. It kind of derails me.
"That's all you've got to say? Really?"
He smirks. "I guess I'm just being a dick? I mean...ah, shit." He chuffs out a laugh, and I know that again, physiologically, he's been indoors long enough that his cheeks shouldn't be red from the cold any longer. "If you knew I was moving for good," he asks me, "would I still be worth 'investigating?'"
So he is being a dick, speaking the words from my notebook right back at me. "What kind of twisted logic is that?"
"Twisted?" He clears his throat. "Well, since I'm here now, can I try something before I go?"
It hadn't worked before, the Attunement. The Collaboration. Whatever the hell the scientists have been doing to him to try to sync his biorhythms with those of the ecosystem. If he wants to try again, sure, but not without a price. "Sure, if you give me your--"
His hand is on my shoulder. When did it get there? Wow, his face is close. He's got little freckles on his nose. Hadn't noticed those before. They're nothing like mine, scattered all over pale skin and oh wait, wait, is this a...wait, oh shit hold on, not ready for--
Bonk. You don't kiss with noses and foreheads. We both kind of laugh, and it's all I can do because my brain has shut off. "Sorry, I wasn't--"
"Okay, ready?" And I think I nod? And his hand is cold, pressed against my flushed cheek, but it feels good there, and his lips are soft, and pressed against mine, and suddenly I understand how this is exactly the thing I wanted all along: not the mystery, the unknowable everything that has surrounded this boy for the last 456 days, but just him. It's startling to realize and it just makes me want him more than I'm just figuring out I do. The kiss doesn't last long, because he's slipping his arms around me, pulling me into an embrace, and he's so small and slight but I can feel his warmth through our layers of clothing, I can feel his heart beating in tune with mine. We just hold one another for a long moment, and I never want to let go. But there's a car honking outside and I can feel him deflate with a sigh, and pull away.
"Um, so..." I manage. "I guess we're on the same page here."
"On some things, anyway," he replies. "We're still off, on..." He touches my hand, and can tell I've surprised him when I use the opportunity to take it into my own, link my fingers with his. Surprised, but pleased. I really want to kiss him again, but then that damned car is honking. He moves away to look out the window to the street below. "That's my ride. I gotta go."
Panic. Full-blown panic mode. I grab his arm. "Phone? Email? I...address? Pony Express? Shit, c'mon dude."
"Oops, I guess you can't go, then..." And when he turns to face me I've got my hands on his upper arms. Like no, I would never keep him there by physical force, but the idea of him walking out of my life forever is just too much. It's too fucking much.
"I'm moving on to a new phase of the project."
"Okay, cool, so how are we meeting up again?" Because I don't give a shit about the project anymore, only so far as its going to take him away from me. My fingers tighten on his arms. "Well? This isn't funny! Come on! We have to see each other!"
His hands are grabbing the lapels of my coat and I realize that he's trying to hang on to me as much as I'm trying to hang on to him. "I don't know. I'm...I'm sorry. That's your job to figure it out."
"I already did. Stay here. I've got a bunk bed and everything." Unless we shared, which.
He starts laughing, and I do too. One last joke before my world ends, and I have no idea what is even so funny, so I ask. "Nothing? Everything?" I'm glad I'm not the only one.
Honk honk! "He's getting impatient. Can I leave the plant with you?"
"Depends on if you're coming back for it." That's what people do, right? Leave things behind on purpose so they can come back for them. Something in my chest loosens a touch.
"I doubt it..." He says, shrinking in on himself. He looks so sad and I know he's reflecting my own expression back at me.
"You figured most of it out. Maybe you will again," he says with a sad smile.
"I've really gotta go."
"No, like, I need to see you, I mean..." He's heading for the door. "I like...I mean...I really like...like you, you know?" I stutter out.
He turns at the door and he smiles again. "Yeah, I think I know." Pause. "Same here. Don't get bored."
He's out the door and I follow him as far as the top of the stoop as he walks to the waiting car. "See you...?" I try. But all I get is a look back, and a wave before he gets into the car. It drives off.
Friday, December 24th, 2010. 5:21 p.m.: I can feel every single beat of my heart. Each one hurts more than I thought anything ever could.