(c) 2011 Drew Payne
His mobile phone, still on silent, vibrated twice in his hand, it was an incoming text. John slipped it under the table and opened the text from Nathan.
“Didn’t get the job : ( ” The text read.
John felt a moment of deflation. Nathan had been so right for that job, but this now meant that he was back to agency jobs, with all the stress and uncertainty that meant. He’d been so hoping Nathan would get the job, it would boost his confidence, but it wasn’t to be. He sighed to himself.
He looked up and saw Kelly Boyd staring at him, across the meeting room table. She’d seen him checking his phone.
“Him?” She mouthed at John. When he nodded his reply she rolled her eyes in exasperation. She didn’t approve of Nathan and was repeatedly telling him to leave Nathan, with all her good intentions. John just shrugged his shoulders. He then returned his attention to Myrtle Penny’s presentation, though the woman’s voice could send anyone to sleep. This would all be over soon and he could call Nathan back.
Kelly wasn’t alone in her opinion of Nathan, so many of his friends had poured scorn on his relationship with Nathan, many of them telling him to leave him; but John ignored them. Their arguments ran the same, Nathan was damaged goods and unrealistically needy, therefore this wasn’t a healthy relationship. John would just shake his head whenever he heard this, and change the subject. It wasn’t just they didn’t know Nathan the way he did, they just didn’t know.
Nathan was needy, often in almost constant need of reassurance and affection, but that was just part of Nathan’s personality. As a child, Nathan had been sexually abused by one of his uncles, but neither of his parents believed him, his mother calling him a liar. This had left a deep and jagged scar in Nathan’s personality.
When they had first met, Nathan had only recently been discharged from hospital, following a breakdown with depression; but all John had known was that Nathan didn’t drink alcohol. John thought it was just a healthy lifestyle, not that alcohol interacted with the anti-depressants Nathan was taking.
He had found out the truth when Nathan didn’t turn up of a date, three months into their relationship, and didn’t return any of his phone calls. At first John thought he’d been dumped, but the more he thought about it the more uncomfortable he felt. Nathan was always early for their dates and when he stayed the night at John’s flat he’d been very reluctant to leave the next day. Three days after Nathan’s non-appearance, John went around to the flat-share where Nathan lived. To his horror, he found Nathan in bed and almost unresponsive with depression. John had managed to get Nathan to hospital and from there he was admitted onto a Psychiatric Ward.
John knew he couldn’t dump Nathan while he was in hospital so instead he became Nathan’s only visitor. Over the two months that Nathan was in hospital John found out about his past and the real reason he didn’t drink; but he also got to know him. Even with all Nathan’s insecurities and troubles, John had felt wave upon wave of love from him. He was always glad to see John and always wanted to know what he had been doing. Though they didn’t have sex once during Nathan’s time in hospital John found himself drawn so close to Nathan.
When Nathan was discharged from hospital John had insisted that he move into his home. He wanted Nathan close to him but he also wanted to be able to look after Nathan.
That was two years ago and Nathan was still living with John. It wasn’t always easy, Nathan’s mood could drop into a deep depression with no notice, but even when Nathan was well he was so insecure. He had no confidence in himself and always expected the worse, he’d cook John a meal and worry that the food wasn’t good enough, even after John had eaten all of it. He seemed unable to hold down any job for long, he’d be sacked or become almost paralysed with self-doubt and not be able to go into work. Even though John reassured him that they could easily live on what he earned, Nathan insisted that he earned money too, though job hunting always knocked him down.
Many people just looked at Nathan and wrote him off as “needy”, warning John off him, but John ignored them. In the last two years he’d never been happier. Nathan didn’t just love him but Nathan needed John in his life. John had never felt so secure in a relationship before. There was no question of Nathan leaving him for someone else, or growing tired of him, or saying they weren’t “emotionally compatible”. Nathan needed John in his life and John loved that. All Nathan’s demands on John were just signs that Nathan needed him.
He loved Nathan and all Nathan’s needs, he loved being needed. Though no one seemed to understand that, they were always talking about being equals in relationships. John had tried that before but had always ended up the one being left. John was far happier with Nathan, because Nathan wouldn’t leave him.
As they finally left the meeting room, John rushed out into the corridor and pulled his phone out. Nathan answered on the second ring.
“Hi, babe,” John said into his phone.
“They said I didn’t have the right experience. Why did they interview me if I didn’t have the right experience? It was an excuse, they didn’t like me,” Nathan babbled.
“Don’t worry, they’re arseholes,” John told him.
Kelly walked past him and rolled her eyes when she saw he was on his phone, but John just ignored her.
4 thoughts on “Love & Need by Drew Payne”
Wow, this story was almost frighteningly life-like. You are a true master of the short-short story! Keep it up!
Thanks, you’re too kind, but I will keep writing. Hopefully, you’ll be able to read more of my work here.
What you story sparks in me is an awareness of how so many people think only perfect people deserve love. Everyone does, and thank heavens for those people who have the strenth and caring to give it. Nathan might be needy, but John is more than willing to supply what he needs. What the hell business is it of anyone else’s?
Drew, your stories are always about what love is for, it’s for others and for ourselves and it doesn’t end just because it’s not ideal.
Work on repeated of the same word in a paragraph.
The story brings up an intriguing issue. Many people would say that the relationship was co-dependent, and that John should learn to not need to have someone who needs him. But if the relationship works, and John’s need for someone like Nathan helps Nathan, then why not go with it?
I think Kelly just wanted to push her own agenda.