The rain began softly and I didn’t notice it until it was a full on shower. The La Salle Hotel was only a few steps away so I darted into the building before I got too wet. The interior of the lobby was like nothing I would expect; the outside of the hotel was aged in a rustic way but the lobby was updated to scream modern. The furniture had sharp edges and was simplistic in its styling and colors. I stood by one of the large windows overlooking the street outside. The sight of people rushing to their cars or nearby shops distracted me from the guy sitting just to my right on a lounge sofa.
The guy seemed about my age if not younger and wasn’t dressed like someone who would casually lounge at this hotel but then again neither was I. My brown hair looked shaggy because of the rain but my curls were never easy to manage. My skinny jeans and Strokes shirt stood out in a hotel like this. The guy peered up from his phone and looked directly at me. He smiled with a half grin and I was stunned in place.
He spoke first, “You’re pretty wet…” He let his voice trail off.
With anyone else I would have given a sarcastic comment but I couldn’t muster the confidence. Instead I spoke slowly, “Yes…it’s raining.” I laughed while shaking off my coat. His smile grew just a bit larger. “Do you mind if I sit with you? At least until the rain let’s up.”
His reserved demeanor melted away and I saw excitement in him, “Yeah, sure go ahead.” He sat up straight and gestured to the cushion next to him. His smile became more relaxed as he turned his body to me.
I started to brush off my pants of leftover water when the guy spoke, “So... hi, I’m Simon.” He didn’t extend his hand to shake but he did look into my eyes. I was stunned again.
I finally spoke, “I’m James.” We both sat there like fools smiling at each other for what seemed like forever. Then the conversation began and he told me his reasons for sitting in a hotel lobby. I told him how my plans got cancelled and ended up walking alone. He spoke of the article he was reading that had nothing to do with his work like it was the most interesting thing in the world. I told him about my favorite music but I don’t think he quite understood dedication to one artist. We shot our opinions back and forth of topics that didn’t matter in the long run. A few times we sat in silence, annoyed by the other. Eventually the annoyance would melt and I would need to hear his voice like my life depended on it. The rain outside never let up.
There was a lull in the conversation and I didn’t know what to say.
Simon spoke, “I should be getting back to my room.”
My eyebrow raised and then I realized that he would be leaving. I debated my options. To stay here in this odd lobby or to go with Simon. I preferred the former out of instinct but there was something here. It was that spark books and movies speak of; an immediate attraction that had to be acted on.
I looked Simon in the eyes again, “You’re right, it’s pretty late. Yeah, I should find something to do.”
That was when the dynamic changed, Simon put his hand on mine. A simple movement, just a stretch of the hand to close the gap we’ve been teetering on for the past hour. It made his next words come out in that rose hazed filter you get when falling in love, “You can come up with me, if you’d like.”
“I would.” I said, just above a whisper.
Simon stood by the window of the hotel room overlooking the empty streets outside. He stood like someone who was trying. Like someone who needed others to know he had it together but when he turned to face me his stance changed. He was more relaxed. We smiled at each other and I floated across the room to see out the window.
I spoke first as we looked together, “Ahh, Bryan. It’s a nice little town don’t you think?”
“Yeah. I like it. I mean I’d like to be somewhere on the east coast.”
“Like where?” I asked.
Simon thought about it for a moment and then smiled the biggest I’ve seen, “New York.”
“Really?” I asked. He shook his head in content with his answer. “Hmm...I could get with the west coast but I’d prefer something more...hipster.” Simon laughed out of nowhere. I shoved his shoulder playfully, “What?”
“Nothing, nothing it’s just that was a perfect way to describe Boston.”
“Yeah Boston! I would love to live there… even if for just awhile. Wait, have you been there?”
“No but my parents have visited a lot. I’ve seen pictures and stuff.” Simon looked at me when he spoke again, “I could live there but only if with you. After school obviously, we’re way too young to be thinking about that.” He laughed and I turned from the window. My hand grazed his bicep. I could feel his eyes follow me as I walked across the room to the bed. He looked at me and I grinned back. I stretched my arm and motioned with my hand for him to join me on the bed. He came and sat next to me with his arm finding its natural place around me. We sat for a while just floating from topic to topic with ease. Eventually Simon got us drinks and we started with small glasses to passing the bottle of champagne back and forth.
The room was no longer quiet but filled with our drunk laughter. I would fall into him in my laughing fits; the smell of his skin was intoxicating but I withheld my urge to act on that spark that wanted to start again.
We were a bottle and a half in of champagne when we ended up face to face laying in the bed. The sky blue sheets were soft but they had nothing on his eyes. His brown eyes were staring into mine and I laughed at how his legs kept touching mine.
“What’ssofunny?” Simon said all in one word.
“Nothing.” I said back. I pressed my lips together and slightly smiled at this beautiful man. He raised his hand to my face and wiped his thumb just under my eye; caressing my cheek in the lightest way.
“I want to kiss you.” Simon said to me.
“Then why aren’t you kissing me?” I asked
“Because I don’t want to lose this.”
“What is this?” I pressed on.
“I don’t know.” Simon said and for a minute I was sure the moment was over. But then he closed the gap between us; what a small and stupid gap. His lips pressed against mine and I felt nothing but also saw the heavens; this was the spark that would ignite us. He was going to start it and I braced myself for this burning. Does that make me a crazy man? To know something is about to completely destroy me but not move out its way? I am literally welcoming what I know will take me down.
The kiss lasted for a few seconds and then Simon pulled away slowly. His lips were practically touching mine and I felt a new kind of drunk. The type that comes from physical contact. The type of drunk you only come down from when you have more. And so we had more. I wanted all of him. I think Simon picked up on the change of gears and his body reacted with mine. Our hands were moving quickly and our breaths were shallow. The room was no longer filled with our laughter but with the sounds of our moans and I was embodying pure ecstasy.
“Tell me about your family, Simon.” I said, barely above a whisper. My head was on Simon’s chest and he was fiddling with the blanket we were both covered by. The room was silent. The question lingered in the air for a moment and I thought Simon was going to answer but he never did.
I pushed my hands off his body to sit up straight and look him in the eyes, “Simon? Are you going to answer?” I stared into his eyes but he was watching the wall.
He sighed and looked at me, “What do you wanna know?”
My eyes lit up, “Everything.”
“Well...I mean. There’s not much to tell. It’s a big family but we’re not close.”
Simon shrugged, “We’re all different. That’s just how we were raised. My parents work a lot. Really, all of those describe why.” I scrunched my face like I had smelt something bad. I looked Simon in the eyes, pleading for him to go on. Simon quickly spun the moment to his favor, “That doesn’t matter though because I’ve got you,” he placed his hand on my cheek, “and I love you.” Simon kissed me before I could react.
He pulled away and held my face so close to his, “I love you too.” I whispered to Simon but I felt something between us. Something he wasn’t sharing. It was plain on my face because Simon pulled away. When I didn’t react to him moving his mood changed.
“What’s wrong James?” Simon asked.
“Nothing.” I said.
“James.” He drew out the middle of my name pushing me to talk.
“It’s just… I don’t know. I just.” I sighed loudly and turned away from him. The early morning sun was breaking through the window; it was the end of a twilight I wished I could go back to.
Simon edged his way back to me, “James, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
I rolled my eyes, “What? What are you sorry for?”
“I don’t know. I just…” Simon put his arms around me and put his head on my shoulder, “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t even know what you’re sorry for.” I pushed Simon away from me. His face showed his pain and I could see the tears behind his eyes. “That’s it. That’s always been the problem. You don’t know what you’re doing and when you apologize it’s just empty.”
“What do you want me to do, James? I’m trying here.”
“I don’t think you are.”
“I agreed to this didn’t I? I’m here in this hotel trying to start over aren’t I? I am trying!”
“Don’t fucking yell at me!” I got up from the bed and moved to the other side of the room. The fading blue light making it easier to see the room. To see what all this for what it really is.
Simon got up and moved slightly closer, “Don’t curse James, it makes you seem lazy.”
“It’s not me being lazy! It’s me showing how fucking mad I am at you. It shows how it seems like everything I do makes you ashamed to even be around me.”
“Where did that come from?”
“Don’t act like there aren’t things you don’t like about me, which is fine in a relationship. Except you’re ashamed of them, of me. You don’t like the way I dress. You would kill for me to be in dress pants and fuzzy sweaters like you.”
“You don’t like my clothes?”
“Yes, babe I like your clothes. It’s not about that. It’s about you being ashamed of me. You’re supposed to like me for me. Not for what you can make me into.” Simon sighed and I continued, “Admit it, you don’t want this!” I threw my hands up and gestured to myself.
Simon walked over to me and tried to hold me, I pulled away. “James… okay. Yes, you’re not my usual type. I don’t think if someone described you to me without any names, I wouldn’t want to be around them or even attracted to them. But I know you and knowing everything about you now I can make that exception to be with you. And I am trying James. I agreed to this ‘do over’. I agreed to come to this hotel and pretend to never know you. To see if we could get that feeling back but now look at us. Back at the fighting. We were broken up but I didn’t want to let you go. I...I don’t know. Just, I am trying...”
“That’s not romantic Simon! You’re just saying you don’t like anything about me… but that you’re….” I trailed off for a minute. Trying to catch where I was going with my thoughts. “You’re just attached to me. We’re just used to each other.” I turned back to Simon and he was crying. “Why are you crying?” I asked him in an annoyed tone.
“This is it, isn’t it? You’re going to break up with me” He let out a hard sigh and I saw the fight leave him.
I held my breath and pulled the moment out longer than it needed to go. “I don’t know, Simon. I want this to work. I want to fix us.”
Simon changed again. He wasn’t crying now. Simon spoke with a clear voice and dry eyes, “We shouldn’t have to work so hard. We shouldn’t have to try.”
“But that’s the thing! You’re not even putting in as much as I am. If you did… we wouldn’t be here.”
“That’s not good, James. I think… for this to work we would just have to give up more than we should. I just don’t think we should have to try so hard… I get that relationships need work but look at what it’s doing to us. If this is our love then I don’t think I want it.”
It was me breaking this time. It was my tears beginning to fall and I didn’t know how to stop them. I reached for Simon but he pulled away. We were breaking and not just dropped from the table I need super glue breaking. We were crashing into each other destroying everything breaking. Simon kept his distance from me and we both knew the end was coming but all I wanted was for him to take responsibility. All I wanted was for him to hold me again. To tell me that we can fix this and that he still loved me.
I broke the silence, “Simon… what are we going to do?”
“I just don’t think we’re going to work...”
“Just like that? After everything, after doing all of this? After coming here and trying to start over you just want to end it?”
“I thought our differences would be exciting in a relationship, I thought you were what I wanted but I don’t know what else to do anymore, James.” Simon put his head down in defeat and I walked closer to him. He didn’t move this time.
Everything swelled up, all the time and effort I put into this boy. The love I gave. I let him into my world with no restraints while he made me stand at his doorway. I pushed my hands on Simon’s chest in anger making him stumble back, “Then do it!” I pushed him again, “Break up with me! Be a man and just do it!” We were both crying.
Simon spoke softly, “I’m sorry James.” I stared into his eyes once more, no longer melting but burning. This was the spark being lit. This was the burning that I wanted to start just a few days ago. Only at that time I thought we would rage on but our flame was flickering out. “We’re over.” Simon turned his face from me and started to look around for his things.
I sat down on the chair facing the window as Simon left the hotel room. The sun had broken its way through the clouds and was warming my face. I expected more tears but my eyes were drying.