Contemporary Gay Teens & Young Adult

           I’d had “moving day” written on the calendar for months, but it turned out that moving was not a day but a weeks-long project. During the first few days, I took hardly a single phone call, and for good reason. After those initial days of chaos and sleep, when things slowed down and I would’ve killed for a phone call over all the unpacking, you still did not call. I think the reason was good enough then, too.

           To call me for something more than to ask to come over would be to acknowledge the distance, to strengthen it. We didn’t want to believe that the bridge between us had collapsed, not even to find a new way around. It had been nearly a month when my phone buzzed on top of my last cardboard box. Your name flashed onto the screen, and I answered before the second ring.



           You sounded the same, but further. You always sounded like that over the phone, like your phone was on the other side of the room from you. I had always found it endearing, but in my empty apartment, still gathering furniture and decorations and dust, it felt like something hollow and rigid bouncing around my chest.

           “You sound the same,” I said. I heard you huff through your nose, half-laughing, and I wanted the other half.

           “Do I?” you asked, far from your phone and far from my side of the country. “Should I not?”

           I took my phone off the cardboard box and opened it. There were movies inside, movies I used to watch with you. Movies I had been thinking of donating. I started pulling them from the box, filling an empty shelf.

           “I don’t know. Maybe you shouldn’t.” I wanted to ask why you called. What made you call? Was it the sound of your car rumbling around you, the sound of music playing through the speakers with no one to share it with? Was it the way you still turned the volume up in sets of two long after I had left? Was it your own stack of movies, sitting untouched in your messy room?

           “You sound a little different,” you said. I finished putting the movies up on the shelf, and I thought, again, of donating them. Most of them, at least. Looking at them, with you on the other side of my phone, on the other side of the room from yours, I admitted that I didn’t even like most of them. I would never have watched them if I hadn’t watched them next to you, and I would never watch them again. I sat on the couch and left the movies on the shelf.

           “Maybe I am,” I said. I heard you move, and when you spoke, you sounded closer. I closed my eyes.

           “How’s the city treating you?” It was a nicety taken straight from the book, but it sounded different with your voice attached. I imagine driving over a pothole and the road gently rising to meet my airborne tires. I imagined lights turning red long enough for me to catch my breath, waiting for me. I imagined the crosswalks counting down in twos for me, even numbers all the way down.

           “It could be better.” Then, because that sounded too much like the truth, I tacked on, “but I can’t complain.”

           “Sure, you can. I’ll be here all night.” It was supposed to sound like a joke, but it was late, and you spoke soft and close, and I hadn’t heard you in a long, long time. It didn’t sound like a joke. It sounded like the last light of day, the first twinkle of a long night. I settled onto the couch and turned off the lamp. The room felt smaller, and that was good.

           “I think it’s just that I don’t feel like I really live here yet,” I said. “Like a piece is missing.” I heard it when your light turned off, and I heard it when you got into bed. You were never in bed before midnight when I was there. You were at my house, laughing at nothing.

           “Have you finished decorating?”

           I looked around at white and grey.


           “That’s probably it. Part of it, at least.”

           I closed my eyes again and leaned my head on my arm. It didn’t feel quite as sturdy as yours.

           “What’s the other part?” I asked. I knew. You were quiet for a few seconds too many.

           “Have you found a coffee shop you like yet? One you like as much as the one here?” You spoke very quietly, and that had always meant that you were saying something that meant something else. I spoke very quietly, too.

           “I don’t think there will be a place like that here.”

           This time, you were quiet for longer.

           “What’s something you like about the city, then?” you asked. You spoke louder than you had before, and I pulled my eyes open. I stood, crossed the room, and looked out the window at the glory of the night.

           “The lights are amazing here. It’s like the day as twice as long.” That was true; there were streetlights and traffic lights dancing in twinkles outside my window. They seemed to go on forever, like the city was one never-ending strip of the world that I had wandered into the center of. My favorites were the glowing lights of apartment windows, yellow squares that sang, awake, awake, awake, awake. I ran my eyes up a row of these until I reached the top of the building they were in, then found the blank, dark sky.

           “I miss the stars, though. They disappear in all the bright.”

           When you spoke again, you nearly whispered. I closed my eyes, still facing the window.

           “I bet the stars miss you, too.”

           This time, I was quiet for a long while, and you spoke again before I could think of anything worth saying out loud.

           “I bet they can still see you, through it all. But they probably miss you anyway.”

           I looked up from an empty sky and stepped away from the window. I passed the couch without sitting and went to my bed instead. I was tired all at once, and the apartment was too empty to walk around in.

           “You still there?”

           “Yeah.” I slid into bed, set the phone next to me, and closed my eyes. You looked exactly like that, two thousand miles away.

           “Do you think I’d do well in the city?” you asked. I knew that you wouldn’t—the streets were too packed and too disconnected for late-night drives, and you’d never be able to move fast enough.

           “Maybe. If you really wanted to.” It sounded like a lie, and when you spoke, you sounded exactly the same.

           “No, it was just a thought,” you said. “There’s not really anything there for me.”        

February 20, 2024 20:00

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John Jenkins
22:00 Feb 29, 2024

Overall: I liked this story so much. It's amazing to think we chose the same prompt. Beginning: In the beginning, the protagonist is moving. I don't remember any genders being mentioned, so I will try to keep them out of my review. Any slips are my fault. Anyway, the protagonist is moving. Their current/former love interest is thinking about them and decides to call. Middle: This is the part where it hit me that we interpreted the prompt on two separate edges of a wide spectrum. Yours was very dramatic, whereas mine was slapstick. I like how...


D'Spencer Luyao
01:13 Mar 04, 2024

Thanks so much! I love to see how you interpreted it, thanks so much for giving it a read.


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Rabab Zaidi
02:16 Feb 25, 2024

Sad. Thought they would meet. Very well written.


D'Spencer Luyao
18:21 Feb 25, 2024



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Mary Bendickson
23:32 Feb 20, 2024

Moving on.


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