With a deep sigh, Derick unlocks the front door and walks inside trying to hide tired eyes with a rigid statue like smile. Closing the door behind him. Derick throws his coat on the couch and drops his briefcase behind against the wall. Kicking his shoes off, he lets out another sigh and calls out. “I’m home. How was your day…?” Derick trails off seeing neither Paul or dinner waiting for him.
Instead, a single note awaits him. Resting underneath a small paperweight shaped like a flower. The weight always served as a proper reminder of their love. To Derick, the paperweight was the symbol of their first date. A pottery class where the two worked tirelessly together to make this one rough edged poorly shaped flower. Other couples in the class made fancy pots, cups or bowls, one lady even made a small bear holding a fish. But like himself, the flower is rough and needed love. Running his fingers over each edge of the flower, Derick sets it aside to pick up the note.
“Derick, I’ve left for the weekend. I haven’t left. But I couldn’t stay. We haven’t been on the same page for a while now and I need time to think. Sincerely, Paul. Be good, I’ll see you soon.”
Reading for a few seconds. Derick crumbles the yellow paper into a ball and throws it in the trash and immediately strides into the kitchen. Fishing through the fridge for a few moments Derick pulls out a large bottle of bourbon and pours himself a glass. Taking a sip before drinking most of it down in a single gulp he cringes behind through the alcohol and shakes it out of his system before pouring a second glass. Walking across the house sipping on his bourbon he turns on his stereo. Blasting anything to drown out the thoughts in his head. Going into the office space both of them share Derick plops down in his leather chair. Slamming both his glass and the bottle of bourbon against the desk, liquor spills everywhere.
Hardly caring, he wipes the liquor off the desk with his sleeve and slams what remained in his glass. Pouring himself a third glass full to the brim. He leans in and sips at it the drink for a few moments then dips backwards into his chair, letting himself sink into it. Spinning around a few times the chair slows itself in front of a picture of them on his desk. Tears well up in his eyes looking at the picture. It seemed like forever ago the two of them were so happy, so ready to enjoy life with each other. Now, it feels like work. Somewhere along the way they lost that spark, the very thing that brought them together.
Grabbing the picture, Derick runs his fingers over the two of them with a smile. Frozen in time, here they’ll always be happy. Nothing can take this moment from him. This was the first time he cooked for Paul. So nervous he had his sister come over early and help him prepare everything. Laughing through his tears, Derick remembers how the two of them to almost burn down his house. How, Paul had shown up right after the firefighters finished putting out the fire. How he didn’t care, and they went to grab pizza afterwards and took his sister along. She took this picture at the pizza joint and this has always remained a staple of their easy breezy relationship. If only everything could always be as easy as this.
Setting the photo down at the edge of his desk. Derick grabs his glass spilling more liquor on himself without a care. Drinking another half of the glass he sets it back down next to the bottle of bourbon. Sloshed, Derick grabs for his desk to get stand and stumbles his way out into the living room. Staring at the stairway up to his bed, Derick shifts his drunken gaze upon the black cotton futon Paul brought with him when he moved in. Thankful for his partners forethought, he pushes the table out of the way and pulls the futon out into a bed. Drunk enough to trip over his own feet, Derick plops himself down on the black bed. Blurred vision shifts to dreams as he quickly falls asleep.
Waking at some point in the afternoon with a stale taste in his mouth. Derick holds his head in pain against the current song blaring out on the stereo. Rolling out of the futon he turns off the stereo and shuts off most of the lights still on. Exhausted and hungover. Derick wanders the house realizing he’s still alone and lets out a long-exasperated sigh. Taking the opportunity to truly rest up. He simply heads back to bed and ignores the world for one more day.
With another night down. Derick awakens knowing Paul returns tonight. Swallowing his pride. Derick takes it upon himself to clean the entire house from top to bottom. He whips out the vacuum and busts out the fresh candles for every room. Cleaning himself up, he goes shopping for fresh ingredients ensuring to make a list and check it twice for everything he needs. Back at home with a few hours to spare. He lights all of the candles, dims the lights and begins preparing a multi course meal. Something even a five-star chef could be proud of.
Still in the middle of cooking the main course. Keys jingle against the door as Paul strides in. Grimace on his face, Paul keeps his jacket and shoes on and walks into the dining room. Dragging his feet toward the kitchen saying “Derick? We need to talk.”
Apron on, steadily stirring away at a delicate lemon sauce. Derick takes a second to compose himself. Then turns to Paul, saying. “I know. Can we talk over dinner? I wanted to show you I learned something from all of those cooking classes we took together.”
With a weary smile, Paul shakes his head. “No…I don’t want to drag this out. I just want to talk and be on my way.”
“Oh. Okay. That’s alright. What’s on your mind?” Derick says leaving kitchen.
Running his hands through his hair, Paul mutters something before speaking up. “I don’t think this is working anymore. I don’t think we’re working anymore.”
“I know we’ve been having problems lately. We can fix this. Please let me try to fix this.”
Paul scowls and looks away as he takes a seat at the table. “I don’t know if I want to fix this. Derick, don’t you feel like that spark is gone? I know I haven’t felt it in a long time.”
“We just lost our way is all. We never lost that spark; we just need to make it shine again. Paul, I love you.”
“I know, but is love enough? I feel like we’ve drifted so far apart. I barely know the man I met all those years ago.”
“I’ve never lost sight of you. You’ve always been Paul to me. I don’t feel like we’ve drifted…”
“Derick.” Paul says, cutting him off.
“Let me finish.”
“Derick.” Paul says, cutting him off a second time.
“Look you wanted to talk right now. So, let me talk Paul.”
Cutting Paul off, Derick says. “But nothing, stop cutting me off. You want to break up at least fucking hear me out. God you asshole.”
“Derick your sauce is on fire.”
Knocking his chair over, Paul runs over into the kitchen shouting. “Your sauce, the kitchen is one fire!”
Panicking. Derick dashes back into the kitchen and grabs a cup of water. Splashing the water all over the pan and gas burner. Spreading oil all over the stove top and floor, sending fire everywhere. Smoke detectors start beeping wildly as the two men scream in terror. The fire continues to spread along the wall flickering up into the ceiling and Paul grabs Derick's hand and drags him from the kitchen out of the house. Calling the fire department. The two men hold hands and stand in the street watching the fire stretch upward to the second story.
Looking into Derick's eyes, Paul smiles saying. “Alright maybe you never left. Maybe I just stopped looking.”