(c) Francis Gideon
“Do you know what’s hot?” Cayden asked, his mouth half-open and his breath on my neck.
“Wait. What?” I asked, pulling away.
I looked down the alleyway towards the small Victorian house on the corner to make sure we couldn’t be seen. The house had been bought two years ago by the Queer Resource centre on campus, used for meetings like the one Cayden and I had just skipped out of. The lights around the front porch sparked against the cool night air. Though they were a string of blue and white Christmas lights, the Queer Resource centre kept them on all year. They always wanted to have some type of light on outside the building so people who were out late didn’t feel as if they were alone.
Think of it as two ships passing in the night, one curator had told us both. The owner of the resource centre also was a Smiths fan. Lyrics lined his forearms, from Meat is Murder to The Queen is Dead album, and he had recently waited until midnight at the local bookstore on the day when Morrissey’s autobiography came out. I always thought that given enough time and money, he would get a Morrissey portrait on his bicep, so he would never feel alone, either.
Cayden grabbed my arm and made me look at him. He ran his hand down my chin and through my budding facial hair.
“I want to hear you ask before you grab me to see if I say no, so that when I say yes, you know I really mean it.”
He pinned my arms behind me, raising his eyebrows in a silent question.
“When I grab you,” he went on. “I want to hear permission in your voice. I want to hear and know everything so I can remember this moment better later on. We need dialogue to mark our place. We need semi-colons and everything else in between to make our stories fit like our bodies do now. You know how important words are to us, to our stories. What do you say, Damien? What will you say to me?”
I looked at his eyes, green flecks against gold. The meeting was over now at the Queer Resource Centre. Many kids, some with half-shaved heads and labret piercings, walked down the rickety porch and across the street. No one saw us in the shadows; everyone else had their places to go.
Each meeting at the house always started with an introduction. We would stand up and give our chosen names and preferred pronouns. Maybe we would answer another question about our favourite movie or food if the group leader wanted more. I had always thought the ritual was so redundant, so stupid.
Now Cayden looked at me with a million questions on the tip of his teeth and I wanted to answer all of them, from the smallest confession to my biggest secret.
“What do you say?” Cayden asked again, his hands tightening around my wrist.
“Yes,” I said. “Yes.”
“Well, well,” Cayden added, pushing his hands down my body, over my chest scars and hovering around my heart. “Where do I begin?”
I smiled and put my hand on the back of his neck. I pulled his lips closer until our tongues could touch.
“I want you…”
I began to talk with my tongue and he listened with his mouth, both our hearts and hands moving over our bodies as if it was the best story ever told. All night, as the cars went by and we were hidden by the alley, we talked through fingertips. We wrote our safe words with our tongues and learned our lessons through touch. We murmured our delight.
Then, when the night was over, we passed by the Christmas lights that never went out, and walked home hand in hand.