Jack sighed as he sat down at his desk with fresh new lined papers. His wooden chair creaked as he leaned forward to get in position. He took the cap off his pen and stared down at the blank sheets before writing.
Dear Gregory, he wrote. Then he sat up and rubbed his face.
Honestly, this was the hardest part. Knowing what to say. Jack didn’t know what to say, he never did, hence a million crumpled papers around his room with poorly written letters to Gregory that he’s never sent or even looked at again.
It’s been about a year now… I haven’t heard from you in a while. Just wondering about you.
Jack crossed out that last line. Then he just went ahead and crumpled the paper into a ball and tossed it behind him. He grabbed a new paper and began writing.
Dear Gregory, he wrote.
Jack shook his head and looked up. It doesn’t help that he was the one that left it off bad with Gregory in the first place. So he’s definitely the pathetic one when it comes to him writing this letter that it’s taken him months to write. He won’t admit that he’s sorry. But he’s come to terms that he’s most definitely the reason Gregory hasn’t talked to him since he’d left. Hasn’t written. Hasn’t called.
The beach is empty, and the skies are grey. Ever since you left me, there hasn’t been a sunny day.
Okay, way too cheesy. Jack tore the paper in half and crumpled the halves together, and tossed them. He took out a new paper.
Hey, Gregory, he wrote.
Despite immediately cringing at his last letter that he just threw away, it was absolutely true. Jack feels like the southern Californian sun stopped shining. Like Gregory was the sun. And now he’s gone. And so is the sun. Jack mindlessly drew a little picture of Gregory, pen sunrays coming out of the figures’ head. He smiled, staring down at it. He’d never show that to Gregory. He only stared at it a minute more and pushed it to the side before staring at a blank lined paper.
He put his pen down on the paper. Dear Gregory, he wrote. It’s a funny story. I was the one who took your shirt. Surely Gregory would’ve forgotten about that one by now, Jack thought, with a small grin playing his lips. I hid it from you so that I could keep it for myself since you took everything else of yours. Jack’s smile disappeared, the memory not as fond as it seemed. He continued to write. I’ve tried my best to move on. I can’t.
He sounds pathetic again. Jack crumpled the paper into a ball and pulled a new sheet of paper towards him. Hey Gregory, he wrote. My friends keep asking about you. I guess I’ve been wondering about you too.
Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why is this so hard to write! Jack angrily pushed all his things off his desk. Then he rubbed his face. God, he wouldn’t have to be doing this if it weren’t for him. Jack leaned back in the wooden chair, and put his hands on his head, closing his eyes.
“Have you seen my white shirt with the black writing on the side?” Gregory stood in the doorway to Jack’s room. “I looked for it in my room, but I can’t seem to find it. I need it to finish my packing.” Jack looked up from the television.
“Why don’t you look better?” He narrowed his eyes at Gregory with a menacing look.
Gregory balled his hands into fists, not saying another word, and leaving. Jack rolled his eyes and got back to the show he was watching.
Jack knew he was being horrible to Gregory. He beats himself up everyday for acting like that to him. He remembers about that very same night when Gregory finally said something about it. Jack was at the kitchen table and Gregory was making some food for himself. The kitchen window was open to let in the humid summer breeze, the air in the kitchen stayed tense.
“What’s your problem?” Gregory asked, suddenly. “You won’t talk to me. And when you do, it’s nothing very nice.”
“Nothing,” Jack said grumpily, keeping his eyes fixated on the magazine he flipped through.
“Well it’s nothing you would care about anyway,”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean? Just tell me what’s going on.”
Jack finally looked up at Gregory, who was leaning against the counter with a frustrated expression.
“I can’t believe you’re leaving me to move thousands of miles away for god knows how long.” He said. Gregory visibly inhaled. His mouth twitched.
“I cannot believe you’d put this off on me. You know I’ve been wanting this. And when I finally get my big break, you are so unsupportive.” he said. “You’ve known about me moving for months!” he shouted.
“Yeah, well you’ve known exactly how I’ve felt about you for years.” Jack replied. Gregory seemed taken back.
“Is… is that what this is about?” He asked quietly, “I thought we agreed that we were putting our dreams before each other.”
They did agree. The two agreed years ago, when they had met at community college and fell in love, that they’d put themselves before each other’s relationship. Jack had plans of being a big time writer and poet while Gregory had plans of being a professional dancer. They were very big dreams with much intent to make them a reality. They didn’t want a relationship to hold them back. This is the reason they only remained friends, and never engaged in any sort of romantic relationship, despite their mutual confessions to each other.
“Things change.” Jack said. “And now I hate you for leaving me.” Gregory stomped one foot angrly. His mouth quivered again.
“You--you are so selfish, Jack,” then he stomped off out of the kitchen and down the hall. Jack heard Gregory’s bedroom door slam shut, making him wince.
Later, Jack turned off all the lights in the house. He passed by Gregory’s room, which was silent. He just went to his own room and went to bed for the night.
He couldn’t fall asleep. He stared up at the ceiling fan, or he turned over to face the window. He was so horrible for acting the way that he did. And on the last night that his friend was here.
The door creaked open in the midst of the silence. There was shuffling, and the bed dipped down under the weight of someone new. Jack scooted just slightly as Gregory lied down and wrapped his arms around him.
There was silence again. Jack continued to stare at the darkness, and Gregory was just laying on his side, with his face pushed to Jack’s chest. Neither could sleep. They just lied still in those little hours they had together, in silence.
Jack had a million things to say. He had mean things to say and he had sad things and even pleads to try and make Gregory stay, even though he knew it was too late. It was too late. So he didn’t even bother. His mind scrambled, and his eyes pricked with tears. He blinked those away as he heard a sigh come from Gregory.
Gregory turned over to look at the alarm clock next to the bed.
“I gotta be at the airport in an hour,” he commented, quietly, his voice a bit hoarse. He pushed himself off Jack’s bed and stood up. “Aren’t you gonna come drop me off?” There was a small pause.
Jack felt bad, because he did want to help his friend with his luggage and make sure he got on the right plane to New York. But he was so hurt. He thought that it was better this way. Even if it meant being a coward. Gregory held the door open.
“So this is where I leave you then?” he asked. Jack could only see the whites of his glassy eyes.
“Now you know how I feel,”
There was a sniff. Jack turned towards the window so he could ignore Gregory crying.
“You’re not going to even say goodbye?”
There was a shuffle, and the door shut quietly. Jack blinked as he heard a few struggles out in the hallway. The front door of the home shut. That shut made Jack’s heart tear into pieces. He heard the cab zoom off into the dark early morning.
Jack reached under his pillow and pulled out a white shirt with black writing. He turned onto his side, and buried his face into it as he started sobbing. It smelled like Gregory. And it overwhelmed Jack. He was so mean and stupid to treat someone like that. Someone he loved and just let go.
Jack opened his eyes and looked over at his open closet. The shirt was still there. Some nights, Jack can’t sleep without that shirt. Some nights he sleeps with his new roommate so that he doesn't have to think about the shirt.
The man picked up his pens and blank lined papers and set them gently back onto the table. Dear Gregory, he began to write. How do you sleep?
Do you sleep well? I don’t. I haven’t been able to sleep properly since you left. Tell me that you can’t sleep because you’re thinking of me too.
Jack crossed out the last sentence, and just crumpled the paper. He threw it, and grabbed a new paper. He looked at the clock on his nightstand. He’d been sitting there for hours. Just like he had been last night and the night before. And literally a lot of the nights for the past couple of months. He hated the feeling so much.
Gregory, he wrote.
I’m sorry, okay? I’m really, really sorry. Please come back to California.
Dear Gregory, he wrote.
I’m just trying to say I miss you.
He looked down at his writing for a bit. Then he was startled by the phone ringing from the kitchen. Jack sighed.
“Bobby, can you get that?” he shouted. He waited for an answer. There was no answer. Bobby probably wasn’t home from school yet despite how late it was. He’s always in the library studying.
Jack got up from his chair and went to his door and opened it, the ringing phone more loud and prominent this time. He went up to it and took it off the hook.
His heart immediately stopped, as his eyes watered. The voice; so clear, so familiar, and unforgettable.
“Gregory?” he asked, “Is that you?”