I sip my steaming cup of coffee, as I look out from the window of the cafe.
The backdrop of skyscrapers is artificial and comforting at the same time. Trying to touch the sky may be metaphorical for us puny humans, but for those huge buildings, it is their life choice.
The people look like they are ready to become popsicles in this freezing winter. The tips of their noses are pink as they wrap their scarfs tighter around their necks and rub their mittened hands together in a desperate attempt for warmth.
Children chatter wildly, making snowmen and snow angels, throwing snow at each other in pure joy. Their parents look on, some proud, while some are rapidly popping aspirin into their mouths.
Two men who look like a couple hold on to each other while taking a walk in the park opposite the café. The trees provide beauty to their romantic walk as they huddle behind a few bushes to taste each other without anyone’s unnecessary judgement.
I stop looking, suddenly feeling like I’m invading on their private time together and look down at my notepad. My messy handwriting stares back, reminding me that I have to finish editing a manuscript by the next two days.
I finish drinking my coffee and scoop up my belongings. As I walk towards the door, my mind goes back to the couple in the park. As I open the door, hearing the chime of bells behind me, I feel a chill that has nothing to do with the weather.
I was jealous.
I always thought that coming to New York would be the big break for my career as an author. Instead, I was stuck editing manuscripts of authors who didn’t deserve to be famous. But no one ever got what they deserved.
I walk rapidly, trying to reach my office without becoming an ice sculpture. I spot a crying woman sitting on a bench, while an awkward boyfriend rubs her back to comfort her.
I look away once again, chuckling at the universe teasing me left and right. I was trying to forget, but the world had made up its mind to make it as difficult as possible.
Today was Mark’s first death anniversary.
I had heard enough of ‘Sorry for your loss’s and ‘I think you should move on’s. I knew they were secretly popping open bottles of champagne in celebration of me losing him. Because they hadn’t found their one yet.
I had found my one and I had lost him.
Mark was…well…Mark was.
I knew that I was different, from that moment when I was twelve. I had felt something a boy shouldn’t feel. That day was crystal clear in my memory still.
I was sitting on that comfortable worn leather sofa, shifting my weight just to hear it squeak under me. I had a bowl of chips in my hand and I was watching Captain America. There was only one light on because I and my sister were the only ones awake.
When Chris Evans came on screen, my fifteen-year-old sister moaned, “He’s so hot!”
I couldn’t help but agree.
I started to have crushes on men. I knew that it was something forbidden, something terrible to like someone of your own gender in that way.
I got on the subway, blinking fast to adjust to the lights. I smelt a sting of Dettol in the air. I held on the pole in the centre of the carriage, politely nodding at the man sitting on the seat in front of me. He nodded back and went back to reading the book in his hand.
Mark had loved to read. I had started writing because of him.
He had come into my life one hot morning in July, barging into my dusty room on the first day of university. I had just finished unpacking and had been adjusting the blue bedsheets on the mattress. He had triumphantly announced himself as my roommate and declared that we would become best friends in a matter of days.
He wasn’t wrong.
We started hanging out a lot, discussing the movies and television shows we loved and hated, and he introduced me to various authors and various genres of books.
I started to write stories and poems.
I started to have a crush on him.
It happened one day a few months after our first meeting. He had come into the room, strangely fidgety. I started to feel nervous. Other people fidgeting made me tense.
He came up to me, and said, “I need to tell you something that I’ve never told anyone before.” I just nodded, gesturing him to continue.
I just blinked. Was it shock or relief I was feeling? I didn’t know.
He then rapidly tried to explain himself. “I know that you probably think I’m this weird kid and you’ve probably never met anyone else who’s gay and this might be confusing but I’ll keep my hands off you, I promise, I – mmph!”
At one point in the conversation, I had suddenly stood up, walked over to him, and kissed him. I drew apart and whispered, “I don’t think I can make that same promise.”
His eyes widened, and that was all I needed. I pulled him closer and kissed him harder. It was perfect. It was exactly as I had imagined it to be, my first kiss with a boy.
He wrapped his hands around me and deepened the kiss. I moaned in pleasure.
He quickly pushed me on the bed and started to take off my clothes, not taking his lips off me for a second.
That night, that small bed. We didn’t let go of each other.
I am quickly jolted from my thoughts by the loud screech of the subway train halting and my body falling forwards with it.
I get out of the subway and reach the publishing office I intern at. I enter the building and am struck by the familiar feeling that I should be bossing these people around as an author instead of me being bossed by them.
“Richard! You’re three minutes late!”
I missed you too, sir.
People are walking around with files threatening to burst open and spill their contents, holding their phones in their other hand as they talk at a deafening volume. I receive a few nods and a few superior looks, which I’m accustomed to. As I go to my small desk, I’m greeted by the layers of papers and the smell of ink.
I rub my hands in anticipation of the enormous pile of work I have to do.
Only one more manuscript left. I rub my eyes and check the time. I’ve been working for six hours. I can’t stop now.
I finish editing the final manuscript and leave the office.
As I walk out, I see an author talking to the publishing manager about one of his books. I walk faster before I lose it.
I’m on the subway again, when I’m faced with the truth I have denied for so long: the real reason why I moved to New York.
I think that it should have been obvious to everyone who had ever known me.
I didn’t leave for my big break, I left because my town was filled with Mark.
There were posters everywhere with his face on it. The funeral and wake were at the local church. That was my last time at a church and in that town.
I remember that day. It had been rainy. We drove to the church, me and Rachel in the back seat with my mother driving. I remember wanting to throw up in that cramped car. But I held it in.
I remember that church. It was peaceful and airy on the inside, and on any other day, I would have admired its beauty. But that day I felt suffocated.
I reached my small apartment and took out my keys. As I unlocked the door, I received the familiar punch in the gut that reminded me once again that Mark was gone. Tears were already falling by the time I opened the door and turned the lights on.
I sat on the floor, leaning on the wall, and started to cry. I brought my knees up and put my face in them, unable to hold its weight up.
I don’t know how long I sat there. Minutes, hours or days. It didn’t matter.
I sat there and recalled every single thing about him. His sparkling blue eyes, his messy brown hair, his raspy voice in the morning, waking up on his chest every day and smiling up at him, wheeling his bloody body into the operation centre on that night a year ago…
He had been coming to town. He hit a tree. That was it.
I remember the blaring sirens and the humidity. I remember how it was all blurred around the edges, and me dumbly wondering if it was sweat or tears that was blurring my vision. Now it comes back to me and it looks like an old film, yellowish and dreamlike.
I remember falling to the ground when the doctor came outside and shook his head sadly. I remember my mother and Rachel holding me tight.
I remember it being white and black at the same time in the hospital, a polaroid.
I remember running outside, tripping over stairs and plants, and screaming without making a sound.
I ran home that day, packed my bags, left a note saying that Mark had wanted me to go to New York because he had loved my writing, and I left.
I didn’t speak to my mother or Rachel for almost five months after I moved here. I ignored all their calls and sent it to voice mail. They wouldn’t understand. One day I called them back. I talked to them for hours and realised that even though they didn’t understand, they’d try their best to.
I hadn’t written in so long. That was going to change.
I got up and walked over to the phone. I called Mr Roberts and said that I was quitting.
I went over to the table and took my laptop. If I wanted to become an author, I needed to do it on my own. I needed to do it for Mark.
As I sit in the bookshop, signing copies of my book, I’m astonished at how things have changed. I wrote my first book in a few months and took my old boss’s help to publish it. It was about Mark. I think he would have liked it.
Now as I sit here, author of over fifteen books, I still get the same question from inquisitive readers.
“Who is Mark?”
And I still give them the same answer.
“He is my one.”
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
I loved the line, "Trying to touch the sky may be metaphorical for us puny humans, but for those huge buildings, it is their life choice." The nostalgic, romantic-like feeling that the narrator gives to the descriptions of the people they're observing really adds to the loneliness -- it's like everyone else seems happier or just more content than them The story is beautiful, awesome job!
Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts, it really means a lot to me. Thank you for taking the time to read my story:)
This is great. I'm gonna go look at your other stories.
I appreciate it! Thank you for reading my stories!
I liked the story. Thank you for writing it. Two things, though: 1) Wouldn't someone say "my only and only" or "my one true love" instead of just "my one"? 2) Maybe I'm just being fussy, but I noticed many many many paragraphs (and some sentences) of your story started with "I". I try to avoid such repetitive paragraph beginnings in my own stories. I don't remember where I read that advice, but I think it came from a published, professional writer. Maybe Terry Brooks? I don't know. For example, you wrote: I got up and walked ov...
My one was just a different way of referring to 'the one' or 'my one true love'. It was a totally unique name which Richard considered to be adequate in describing his relationship with Mark. This was one of my first short stories, and I have received this advice many times to change the repetitive sentence beginnings. After getting this advice, I have applied it as much as possible with every story in the future. If you read the stories after this, you can see that I've tried to implement that. Thank you for your critique, much appreciated.
Ah. Nothing wrong with a different variation on a familiar term. I did notice the reduction in repetitive paragraph beginnings in the other story I read. Some writers probably can make such repetitiveness interesting, but I can't say that I'm one of them. I'm still not quite used to reading stories about same-sex relationships. There's one in Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's book, "Good Omens" (the characters Aziraphale and Crowley are both technically male in my opinion, even though neither are human). And there are at least four...
In the world we live in now, I think it would be best if we opened up our minds to people loving others of the same gender. Being homophobic may just make homosexuals feel more alienated than they already do, and that isn't right. I believe that it doesn't matter which gender a person is, you don't fall in love with their gender, you fall in love with their soul. And if that soul is in a body of the same sex, then so be it. Love is blind. I'm not proud of Pumpkin Spice, I would prefer that the least amount of people read it :D Which is why...
I agree with you. Love *should* be for that individual, no matter what their exterior looks like. I don't think I've ever been homophobic. The Catholic church choir that my parents were in (1975-1977) was a little unusual if you weren't used to it: the choir director was gay; the organist was gay; almost all the tenors and basses were gay (my dad was the only one who wasn't; or one of the few who weren't). Did I mind? No. They were fun to be around and they never forced me to be like them. I accepted them; they accepted me. I miss...
I guess to write a same-sex story, it is the same as writing a romance story. It becomes hard only when you start to feel that same-sex relationships may be different from opposite-sex relationships, which is not true. Imagining them to be of the opposite sex, and then changing it to the same sex after writing it may help to make it realistic because after all, it is still just love and just a normal relationship which doesn't need to seem daunting at all. Oh no, please don't apologise for reading Pumpkin Spice, it's just not a story that I...
Good observing ability you have got. It is visible in your writing.
Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate you taking the time to read my story:)))
Wow!!! Lovely story. Really enjoyed it. It would be nice of you if you read my new story. Thanks!
I'm so sorry, I missed your comment, I have checked out your story though, and left a comment a month ago, thank you for reading my story
I liked the way you changed your pacing to reflect the emotional state of your main character! And even more, that you sprinkled the flashbacks throughout your story so that we could learn about the character as a person as well as why they were like that, simultaneously. My one critique would be that the sentence and paragraph structures seemed a little bit repetitive (ex: many of the sentences began with "I" or "He" continuously). I think the introspective aspect of the story might flow easier if the sentence structure was a little more va...
I really appreciate constructive criticism, so thank you!! I'll be sure to keep that in mind the next time. I'm really glad you enjoyed it, thank you for reading it!!! Please do read my other stories and tell me what you think:)))
Sure thing! And I would love to know what you think of my handful of stories as well! :)
You could feel the storyteller's heartbreak over the loss of Mark. The love of his life left his 'mark' on him, it was a romance he'll never get over. Another thing, Mark's death was the reason he left for New York, and eventually embarked on writing career. The story presented a very interesting look at romance, and in particular gay love. I very much enjoyed Writer Maniac! Loretta Moore
Thank you so much, I really did try my best to get the love right, so I'm so glad you liked it!!! Thank you for reading my story:)))
I already commented on this story, but after your very kind reviews on mine, I decided to read it again. I loved it even more, if that's possible! I know that you can't edit this anymore, but I'm hoping you could use a few of these suggestions in the future. Please let me know if I'm too harsh :) "I sip my steaming cup of coffee, as I look out from the window of the cafe." No comma needed :) "Their parents look on, some proud, while some are rapidly popping aspirin into their mouths." I would out a semi-colon instead of the first comma...
OH MY GOD!!! YOU ARE AN ABSOLUTE ANGEL!!! I really do appreciate all your suggestions, and I will definitely put them into practice. I'm just really overwhelmed that you took the time to read it again and corrected my mistakes!!! Thank you once again!!!
Of course! I really enjoy reading other people's stories because I can really learn from them, and it's well...fun! :)
Wow! I really enjoyed reading this story; it was so full of great descriptions, and I loved the way you ended it! I know that right now I'm going to be one of the annoying people that asks you to read my story (or stories), but it would be a big help. Don't feel like you have to :)
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, I really appreciate it. Of course I'll read your story, it would be my absolute pleasure :)
This was so sweet-it reminds me of how many people lost their loved ones already. I could feel his pain somehow, his feeling I guess. I love the ending a lot though. One thing though-to me in a way I think you could've add a bit or replaced to the line before he became a author. Other than that it was great!
Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I will definitely look into the line you mentioned, thank you for your feedback :)
“I don’t think I can make that same promise.” Wow... gay romance books need lines like this more. I think this one line just gives so much character development, from the differences between the two boys to what is right/wrong.
Thank you! This is one of the works I'm really proud of, so I'm glad you liked it! These characters are so close to my heart, so it's great to see them resonating with others! Thanks once again!
Personally, I know how hard it is to struggle with sexuality. So when I put myself in the main character's shoes, I did feel as if I lost "my one". Thank you for bringing this story to life. I don't think I could have done it even better.
Thank you so much, I'm so glad that it resonated with you! I feel like most people, including me, struggle with their sexuality, especially at this time where more people are identifying themselves for who they are. Then there is the problem with your family and your culture/religion in general, which generally prohibits one thing or another. So it's definitely a difficult topic to talk about. However, I hope this story showed that love is blind. I have a lot more stories like this, I like 'Unexpected Love' and 'A Good Day' the most, if you'...
Well I'm trying to introduce more problems that the world faces into my writing like racism, police brutality, sexuality, abuse, etc. When I write I put myself in my main character's shoes and I tell the story as if I was actually in their situation. The only non-fiction story that I've written so far is my story called "Every Superheros Origin Story" (which you should definitely go check out and comment!!!) and in that case, I was the main character. So by reading other people's stories, I get a look at how different people view topics like...
That is wonderful to know. I'll definitely check out the story you mentioned whenever I get the time! You should check out the stories I mentioned in my previous comment too, they'll probably give you a different perspective :)
Wow this is amazing! I don’t really like romances but this was so well written it kept me reading the whole way through! Well done 💜
Thank you so much, I'm really glad you liked it!
What'd you think about Unexpected Love?
It was really good too!
Hey W.M. I know how sad it is to have someone you love die (and that’s from reading a lifetime’s worth of romance books. (I have a thing for books where people fall in love then die.) I guess this was one for me! I like the descriptions. Good work!
Thank you so much, I'm glad you liked it! You can check out my bio for more stories of mine which may interest you :)
You got me again, right in the heartstrings. You could feel this character's grief flowing off the page. And your descriptive language was absolutely gorgeous in this piece. One of my favorites lines is: Mark was…well…Mark was. I read that line like 10 times. So clever. Great job!
Thank you! This is one of my favourites out of my own stories, I was absolutely exhausted with emotion after writing this :D And that line as well, that was the most concise way to put to words what a person feels for another so I'm glad you liked it! You're an absolute angel for reading my stories :)))