A Writer's Dream
Chapter 3: Past Tense
I felt Jake’s arms around me, lifting me up and then setting me down again. We were in my bed and he laid next to me, one arm wrapped around me in a spooning position. He stroked the sweaty hair back from my forehead and kissed me.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I managed. “That was incredible.”
He began unbuttoning my shirt and soon had it off, so I was completely naked in bed with him. He stroked my back and I felt his hand lingering on some of the scars that my father had left.
“Where did you get these?” he asked.
“My father,” I said. I normally didn’t talk about my father, but I was in such a daze from the sex that I felt brave enough to talk about anything. “He was a bastard. He used to beat me and my mom all the time.”
“You’re using past tense,” Jake said. “Is he dead?”
“I wish,” I said. “No, I just don’t have to deal with him anymore. He kicked me out when he found out I was gay.”
Jake was silent for a long time. “I haven’t told my parents yet,” he said. “How do you think they’ll react?”
I tried to remember his parents. I had met them once during family weekend, but I hadn’t really paid attention. I was too busy explaining to people why no one in my family had shown up. It was a painful weekend for me, and I had spent a lot of it locked in shallow self-pity.
His parents had seemed nice, though looks could be deceiving. But they had encouraged Jake to get a degree in creative writing rather than a degree in psychology even though he was more likely to find a well-paying job with psychology. That was a good sign that they accepted their son the way that he was.
“They’ll probably be shocked at first,” I said. “Give them time to process the information. Try not to judge them based on their initial reaction.”
“I don’t know what my mother will do. She really wants grandkids and my little sister is nearly eight years younger than me. My mom always tells me to get married and start having kids because she won’t be around forever.”
“You’re bisexual, though, right? You might end up with a woman.”
Jake’s face twisted into puzzlement as he tilted my face to look at his. “I’m bisexual, but right now I’m only interested in you. Didn’t I make that clear?”
I blushed. Was he serious? Was I the person he wanted to make a life with? I certainly wouldn’t mind. We were best friends, we got along magnificently and rarely fought, and if the sex we had just had was any indication, we were thoroughly compatible physically.
“Well,” I said awkwardly, “You can always adopt a child.”
“How did you tell your parents?”
“I’d rather not think about it,” I said, but his question had my mind whirring and the images were already playing in my head. Watching my favorite movie with a guy friend. Thinking my father was out. Having the idiot with me kiss me during the crucial scene of the film. I had kicked him out, but as soon as he was gone my father appeared, belt in hand. He hadn’t even said anything, just gestured for me to bend over. Scared and disappointed not only by my first kiss but also by having been caught, I obeyed and I still had some of the scars from that beating.
The next morning at breakfast my father refused to let me sit at the table, saying that he wouldn’t allow any queers in the family. If I wanted to join the dinner table, I had to swear that I was straight and stick with it the rest of my life. I had rebelled and run away to a friend’s house. It was the summer before I started my grad program, so I only had to crash with a friend a couple of months before I was settling into an apartment.
Of course, my parents refused to pay for college, as they had promised before the incident, so I was already up to my neck in student loans. Luckily I had gotten a job at the university teaching composition classes to offset some of the costs. It was hard work, but I enjoyed teaching and I had been loving the program until my latest meeting with my advisor. Flat characters. I’d show her flat characters.
I shook my head. In my mind, there was nothing flat about my characters. They all had solid back stories and motivations. It just happened that there wasn’t much conflict. I think one of the reasons I avoided conflict was because I had so much conflict in my own life, I couldn’t imagine putting it into my stories. My stories were an escape, a peaceful place to hide from the real world. If I made my stories ugly the way she wanted, I would lose my hiding place.
Unless I found a new respite, I thought, feeling Jake’s arms around me. If I had a safe place to hide in the real world, perhaps I would be able to explore some of the conflict in my life in my writing. Maybe instead of a place to hide, my writing could become a place to work out my demons. That would certainly add more excitement and drama, I thought. Now that I had a best friend who could cradle me when I cried and hold me after sex, the thought of tainting my writing with sorrow didn’t frighten me as much as it used to. I could use my words to unburden myself.
“What are you thinking?” Jake asked.
Jake sighed. “Here I was hoping I had distracted you from your worries.”
“You did,” I said. “I’m thinking of new possibilities now. Solutions, not problems. You have no idea how much you’ve helped.”
There was a comfortable silence between us and then I twisted around to face him.
“What are you thinking about?” I asked, realizing that I was once again being selfish. I needed to stop assuming everything centered on me, especially since I genuinely cared what was going on with Jake.
“Telling my parents,” he said. “I think my dad will be okay with it. He’s pretty open-minded. But my mom… she’s really old-fashioned. Maybe I should wait to tell them.”
I nodded. “You don’t have to tell anyone until you’re ready.”
“I told Katy,” he said. “That’s why we broke up. But she won’t tell anyone.”
I tried to imagine him telling Katy the news and failed. Katy was such a sweetheart; it was hard to imagine anyone breaking up with her. She was one of the calmest, most loving people I had ever met and I valued her friendship immensely. I wondered if Jake’s breakup would affect my friendship with her, and decided it probably would. After all, I was the reason Jake had broken up with her. It would be difficult for her to see Jake with another person so quickly after they broke up, even if that other person was a man. Or maybe especially if that other person was a man. I couldn’t begin to guess what her reaction to the news of Jake’s orientation would be.
She was open-minded, but having your boyfriend of several months come out to you had to be a shock. And Jake wasn’t just coming out, he was bisexual, which meant that he was still interested in women. Just not Katy. She was due to meet with her thesis advisor today as well, I remembered with a start. I hoped she fared well, because she wouldn’t have a boyfriend to come home to. Instead, I would have someone to take care of me. My heart warmed at the thought of coming home to Jake every day, and spending lunches and picnics with him the way he and Katy used to do. I was usually the third wheel in those gatherings, and I wondered if Katy would still be invited.
I hoped she and Jake had ended on good terms, but I couldn’t see how that was possible. Even if Katy smiled and seemed to let it slide over her like water on a duck, I knew she would bear some level of hidden resentment. When her thesis advisor read her first draft and told her to rewrite the entire thing, she had smiled and acted as if it didn’t bother her at all, but the next day she had shown up with red eyes, looking as if she had gotten no sleep. She claimed she was up all night grading papers, which was a reasonable excuse, but I knew she had been crying. I knew the pain of a harsh critique even back then, before today’s meeting.
“I won’t tell anyone if you don’t want me to,” I said. He was looking a little frightened and I wanted to calm him down.
“Um, Jake? What gave you the courage to come in here and do this?”
A flicker of a smile crossed his lips. “You mean seduce you? I’ve been dreaming about doing this for weeks now. Every time I see you, all I can think about is what you would look like naked, how you would feel against my body, how you would taste on my tongue.”
I ducked my head in embarrassment. When I first met Jake I had experienced similar images, but when he started dating Katy I had firmly put the out of mind. Now I realized I could let those images run wild. Jake was mine, now, to do with as I pleased. And I knew exactly what I wanted from him.
I started to pull him into a kiss when something jumped on the foot of the bed. I realized with shock it was my cat. Had she seen everything? I let go of Jake abruptly and pulled the blanket to cover myself. He looked between me and the cat, then started laughing.
“Don’t tell me you’re embarrassed by the cat,” he said.
“I don’t want her to see anything,” I said. I flushed, knowing that my hesitation was irrational but unable to do anything about it. I remembered what we had done in the other room and prayed that she hadn’t seen it. She was an innocent, a child, and I had exposed her to something very adult.
“Hasn’t she, like, had kittens?”
“Yeah,” I said.
I got her from an animal shelter after she was rescued from a hoarder with twenty-seven other cats. She was only nine months old – still a kitten herself – but she had given birth to at least one litter of kittens. The kittens were up for adoption as well, but I hadn’t given them a second glance. The instant I walked into the shelter, my eyes fell on her and it was love at first sight. I knew she was the one for me.
When I got Camere, her belly was shaved from getting spayed and her nipples were still quite prominent from her recent breastfeeding, but in just a few weeks she looked like a normal kitten again. She was a lap cat and spent most of her days on my lap or trying to climb on my lap and as Jake and I lay in bed she climbed on top of me and attempted to curl up on my stomach. I gently pushed her off the bed.
“If she’s had kittens,” Jake continued, “Then she knows what sex is.”
I made a face. “She’s my baby. I get to protect her if I want. Just give me a second while I put her in the other room.”
I shifted her off the bed and she meowed in protest, but when I picked her up she started purring. Clearly she expected some attention and in most cases she would be right. This time, however, I needed some time away from her. I set her in the living room and closed the door to the bedroom. As I returned to bed she began meowing loudly, as if she thought I had forgotten her by mistake and was reminding me that she still needed attention.
I groaned and started to head back to the door but Jake stopped me with a hand on my arm.
“Let her meow for once,” he said. “She’ll stop when she realizes it isn’t working.”
Then he removed his pants and was naked before me, and my mouth went dry. Thoughts of my cat completely fled my mind as I took in his perfect athlete’s body and his powerful cock, slightly hard, hanging between his legs.