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Holiday Gay Friendship

“Thanks a lot,” I say.

I sigh and bend down to pick the crumpled one-dollar bill that landed in front of my feet on the sidewalk. I’m not homeless by the way, I just like to sit on the street corner to play my guitar. The streets are littered with leaves that scrape along the asphalt in the crisp autumn breeze. Sometimes when I play, I watch them float and dance as though they’re moved by the music.

On nights like tonight, my breath gets caught in the streetlights when I sing, and people pass by bundled up in their coats walking back from dinner, or a first date, or while phoning home.

Most people don’t pay me any mind; some smile, and some, like this lovely gentleman dig in their pockets for wadded up cash or coins to throw at my feet. I’m not out here for the money, though it doesn’t go unappreciated. My apartment is just a block away from here. Nothing fancy, just a nice mattress on the floor and a fridge stocked with Powerade and half-finished iced coffees.

It’s starting to get late, but I wait for my cue. When I see Mr. Peterson closing his shop for the night, I know it’s time to head home. Every night at 10 p.m. he locks up the flower shop with a yellow rose in his hand that he’ll take home to his wife.  

“Good evening, Roy,” Mr. Peterson says, waving with his yellow-rose hand. I stop packing my guitar and wave back.

“Sell lots of flowers today?” I ask. “Getting pretty close to the holidays.”

“Oh yeah,” he says, “sold the last of my sunflowers.”

“Tell the wife I said hi,” I say. Mr. Peterson nods, I wait to watch him disappear across the street before gathering the rest of my things. All together I think I made about 10 dollars if I counted the coins correctly. I glance over them again before shoving them in my pocket. I wrap my hand in my sweatshirt to avoid the cold metal of the guitar case and start walking. The streets are pretty empty aside from the leaves, most people are home eating dinner with their families by now, which reminds me I should probably call my mom and let her know how I’m doing.

On my walk home I let the sidewalk treadmill beneath my feet, my mind is always somewhere else. It has been since I was younger. My last boyfriend broke up with me because I was too focused on the future—as if that was supposed to be a bad thing. Now it’s just me, and I like to take my time on my walk back home, anything to avoid an empty bed. I really should get a dog or something.

I nearly bump into a post; my guitar case stops me. “Sorry,” I mutter, not expecting to be met with a “for sale flyer” two inches from my face, but grateful it’s not a person. Someone’s selling a bedframe. I need one of those, but my eyes are drawn to the flyer above it:

MUSICIAN WANTED

Part-time position for a singer/guitar player at McMillan’s Coffee House. Must audition.

528 Briarwood St.

Brockton, MA 02301

Located on the corner of Greystone and Briarwood.

Serious Inquiries only.

Call (202) 555-0187

“There’s no way,” I say. “What are the chances.” I pull it off and stuff it in my pocket with the coins leaving two bits of paper stuck where it was stapled into the wood. It’s all I can think about as I pass the last few buildings on my route home. Stacy lifts her window when she hears the jingle of my keys.

“Hey, Roy,” she says. “You become a rock star yet?”

“What do ya mean?” I ask, “I made a whole ten dollars tonight. I’m practically famous.” I shake my sweatshirt so she can hear the coins clink together in my pocket.

“Lucky for you I have some left-over mac n cheese on the stove,” she says. “I’ll meet you at your window and bring you some.”

“Perfect,” I say. “You’ll have to say hi to mom, I’m supposed to call her tonight.”

“I love talking to Patty!” Stacy yells before shutting her window, “now get your ass inside it’s freezing out.”

I hear her window click and hurry up the stairs to my apartment. Stacy is the first friend I made here. I’m lucky she shares her food with me every night otherwise I wouldn’t eat much. Her parents help pay for her to get through college which means she gets enough money for food. She’s like my sister, although mom always insists, we’re going to get married—she doesn’t know about the whole being gay thing. To her, my last boyfriend was just my roommate.

I can’t get my feet through the door before Stacy knocks on my window, her eyes wide, and breath fogging up the glass. She has a Tupperware container of mac n cheese under her arm.

“Hurry up and let me in,” she says. I drop my stuff in the doorway and unlock the windowpane.

“It’s fucking freezing out,” she says. “Where’s your coat?” She places the mac n cheese on the counter.

“I’m wearing a sweatshirt,” I say, shrugging. She rolls her eyes but lets it go, gesturing to the empty counter space.

“Jesus, kid, we’ve really gotta get you a microwave,” she says. “I tried to keep it warm for you.”

“Thanks,” I say. She opens the Tupperware and hands it to me with a plastic fork.

“Eat,” she says. I follow her order and gulp down the lukewarm noodles. She moves my guitar case to the side and hangs the zip-up sweatshirt I had on, on the back of the door. She fishes her hand around in the pocket for the change and produces the few crumpled bills, coins, and the ad I pulled from the post. She sorts the coins and places them in my jar before unfolding the paper.

“What’s this?” she asks, smoothing the sheet out against her leg to read it.

“Just an ad I saw on my way home,” I say.

“Roy, this is huge,” she says. “You could play your guitar inside and make regular cash. Are you going to audition for it?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “I just grabbed it.”

“Are you kidding, you have to!” She says. “We’ll go shopping tomorrow, get you a nice interview outfit.”

I shrug.

“Stacy, you don’t have to do that,” I say. “I owe you a ton of money by now.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she says. “You’ll pay me back when you’re all rich and famous. Let me do this.”

Her eyes are glued to me, bright and excited, there’s no way I’m getting out of this.

“Fine,” I say. “But I’m paying you back when I get the money.”

Stacy laughs and jokingly dusts her shoulders “that’s not necessary, on Thanksgiving just tell everyone you’re thankful for me.”

“I am,” I say. “Without you, I wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving.”

Stacy’s expression changes, she squeezes my hand before clearing her throat.

“Alright, that’s enough,” she says, “shut up and eat your noodles before you make me cry.”

I pull out another plastic fork and hand it to her. We eat in silence watching the leaves blow through the empty street below, listening to the wind like music, and I picture myself playing in that coffee shop, looking out at the world through the window.

November 23, 2021 22:22

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2 comments

Silas Grey
19:45 Dec 01, 2021

Oof. I wanted it to keep going! Good job captivating me. Maybe you should make a part 2 of this? But yeah, really good work! :)

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Stevie B
18:34 Dec 01, 2021

Hannah, very well written and conceived. I'd be interested in reading more of your work.

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