Contest #252 shortlist ⭐️


LGBTQ+ Sad Romance

Crumpling, tearing—the sounds echo through the night as Leon discards yet another piece of paper. It's cold, and clouds hide his beloved behind their faint, shifting veils. He should thank them, since they preserve her beauty from being consumed by Leon’s avid gaze. But he longs to see her, and oh, how madly in love he is.

He takes a step forward, and the oak flooring of the balcony creaks softly under his shoes. Leon rests his arms on the railing and looks up into the veiled sky. The stars shine brighter than ever, and the constellations can be seen in all of their splendor, but Leon has eyes only for one, fair lady.

Finally, the clouds move just right, and he gets to see her. She's so big, so bright; Leon swears he can see eyes in her craters, and a smile in the rays that cross her body. He smiles back and reaches his hands out towards her, as if she can grab them and bring him with her.

Hundreds of sketches lie scattered on the floor with little to no regard, and a gust of wind soon blows them across the balcony like restless autumn leaves. But even their graceful dance fails to draw Leon’s attention away from the sight that holds him spellbound—his beloved, cloaked in a silver gown, invites him to join her in a waltz.

As his drawings, each depicting a different angle and phase of the moon, flutter down to the balcony below, Leon erupts in a waltz, lovingly holding the ghost of his woman. Countless days and nights have been devoted to capturing her beauty, his efforts alternating between feverish scribbling and gazing into the night sky. All go down the drain in one, windy night.

The observatory is one of the highest buildings in town, and it reigns over houses and shops like a king on his throne. Leon can't help but feel a hint of amusement as he imagines the passerby as they discover his papers on the ground below. After all, they are just creations of the mind of a madman in love with the moon. Nothing more than that can cross people's simple minds.

Only one person can understand, but Leon is glad he isn't there. He'd distract him from looking at his beloved with his incessant rumbling. It isn't like that man can't enter the observatory at any time he wants; he has the keys—and Leon hopes he will pay him a visit in the morning so that he can taste his delicious cooking for breakfast.

Some people call him crazy, others say his love can only be translated into unhealthy obsession. But if a feeling this beautiful has only one name, and it is "obsession", Leon is more than glad to be obsessed with the moon. And so, as the night wears on and the stars twinkle overhead, Leon remains on his balcony, content to lose himself to that same madness everyone around him despises.

After filling his eyes with her glow, he decides to observe the moon through his telescope. He studies her body like the work of art she is, and writes down any change down to the smallest detail. He suddenly shivers from the cold, as he's wearing a cotton shirt too thin for a night in the middle of autumn.

A soft rustling sound breaks through the silence. Leon hears the footsteps of someone climbing the stairs, and stopping when they reach the balcony, directly behind him.

"Look at you," the voice is piercing and firm; Leon thinks that if it had a shape, it would be a triangle with the sharpest tips he’s ever seen. “Yearning for the moon like a fool.”

“Adam.” Leon barely looks at him out of the corner of his eye. He's heard that voice one too many times to not recognize him. Tension is palpable in Adam’s words, but his bite is hollow.

As irritated as he sounds every time he speaks to Leon, he can’t help but always come back to the observatory, even after a fight. He stands in the shadows and watches as the moon slowly takes away the man he once knew. Nothing is more important to Leon than his obsession, and when Adam looks at Leon, emotions he has pushed deep down resurface with all of their strength.

Every day, he looks for Leon in that thin, messy man—he looks with the love and desperation you can only look at your sweetheart with—but all he ever sees is the crazed face of a lovelorn fool staring back at him. His way of speaking hasn't changed, his eyes have that same witty glow they had when Adam first met him. But that isn't his Leon anymore. He is only a shell left by someone who Adam can never have back.

It's almost amusing—how Adam despises him for his obsession—knowing well that he, himself, couldn't be more obsessed with Leon's scent, his voice, the way his eyes light up with curious fervor. It's a bitter irony, but one that has characterized their lives for a long while now. Adam can't say he's used to their bickering rather than pressing his skin tight against Leon's under the bedsheets, but he's trying.

"You're freezing," Adam says, his voice softer now, though still tinged with irritation. He steps closer, shrugging off his thick coat and draping it over Leon's shoulders. The fabric is warm, carrying the faint smell of tobacco and the lingering trace of Adam's cologne, familiar and comforting.

Leon looks at him for a split second, and Adam gets to see his face, basked in the moonlight he despises so much. His gaze quickly returns to the moon. "Thank you," Leon murmurs, barely audible.

Adam sighs, running a hand through his long hair as he tries to gather his thoughts. "Leon, you can't keep doing this to yourself. You'll get sick. And for what? Some-thing that can't love you back?"

Leon's gaze sharpens. He looks back at Adam with eyes crossed by a thin veil of irritation. "She is not a thing."

"She certainly can't love you back. My point still stands." Adam scoffs. Would Leon protect his honor in the same way he does with the moon? Adam wishes he could run away from that question. The answer is sure to leave a bitter taste on his tongue.

In response, Leon chuckles softly. It's a quick shift from the anger that invaded him a second before. "She doesn't need to love me back, Adam. Her beauty is enough. It fills me in ways nothing else can." Spoken like a true madman, Adam thinks.

Adam's frustration is strong, and it bubbles up inside him ready to pour into a stream of hurtful words. "And what about the people who do love you? Who want to be with you? You're so consumed by your infatuation that you're blind to everything else." He doesn't know what he's trying to achieve with that, and he doesn't care. For a second his pain stops, and it feels like they're back to being lovers fighting about one's lack of attention. But Leon's gaze wanders everywhere, and he struggles to keep his eyes fixed on Adam's face. The moon is a magnet that attracts him with such strength that it hurts to resist; but he tries, and Adam thinks it's weird, almost impossible for him to be the center of Leon's attention once again. It feels wrong.

"I know it's hard for you to understand. But this is who I am now. The moon is a part of me." Leon's expression as he speaks is unreadable. Confusion and longing mix and twist into one, indefinite feeling, and he finds himself torn between staring into Adam's eyes and looking up at the moon. That usually doesn't happen—nothing can pull his attention from his beloved—but something tells him that today is different, and Adam's face looks sadder than usual.

Adam's heart aches. He holds himself back. He always does. Ever since Leon lost himself to his obsession, lingering touches have been replaced by fleeting ones, and intimate moments have been reduced to Adam clinging desperately to Leon's clothes and skin. He digs his nails into his flesh, trying to anchor him, to pull his attention away from the moon for just a moment, even if it means leaving trails of bloody wounds along his body. He's composed, controlled, but Leon is complete uncertainty in his life, and no amount of self-control can stop him from reaching out, and gently cup Leon's face in his hands.

"I miss you." Adam's plea is a whisper.

"It'll pass." Leon's answer is brief, quick. It leaves a pain that transcendes the bounds of Adam's heart. His hands slip from Leon's face, falling limply to his sides. Leon smiles, but not maliciously. He's crazy; Adam doesn't expect him to understand the weight of his own words. He turns back to the telescope, adjusting its position slightly. His movements are methodical, almost mechanical, as if he is trying to block out the world around him.

"What am I to you?" The question comes out abruptly and hangs heavy in the air. Adam's voice has grown desperate. He feels pathetic. Leon pauses, his hand stilling on the focus knob. His expression is the distant, familiar look of someone lost in a world of their own making.

The bond they share has become horribly incomprehensible from an outside perspective—and not much clearer from the inside either. Sometimes, Adam wonders if he was part of Leon's slow descend into madness. He'd notice Leon's gaze linger slightly too long on the moon during their night walks, or he'd catch him sigh dreamingly while looking out of the window, when Leon was sure Adam was sleeping. But he never said anything, not even when Leon began weaving the moon into every conversation, whether it was with him or anyone else they knew. Leon would study books about the moon, sketch it and write hundreds of thousands of words about it as if he was crafting a love letter. Once again, Adam was silent. People would ask about it, but he just laughed in their face.

"The moon? Really?"

Each time he uttered those same words to people worried about his and Leon's well-being, he realized he was starting to believe them less. Only when Leon decided to leave their place to live inside the city's abandoned observatory—no matter how angry, desperate or threatening the way Adam tried to convince him to stay was—that's when Adam understood the extent of Leon's obsession. But it was too late to keep him close to him. Adam watched as Leon slipped through sanity's fingers, and descended into a love dictated by pure madness. Unbearable jealousy and pain swirled in his chest the day he left with the same intensity as they do now.

Adam waits for an answer. He knows it will never be what he wants to hear, but Leon seems to take it very seriously, at least. With crossed arms, Leon turns around, and a bright smile graces his lips. Behind his head, the moon has descended, casting an ethereal glow around him, almost like a halo. Adam's question repeats over and over in his own mind as he begs Leon's answer to give him one single reason to stay. What am I to you? What am I to you?

"My anchor.”

Adam’s lips part in surprise. “What?”

“You keep me grounded when I’m floating off to the sky.”

Adam feels anger, but not towards Leon; rather, towards himself, because the madman’s senseless words not only make him feel happy, but needed, too. He wants to stay. He wants to think that this single thought means that there’s still part of Leon that loves him, not the moon. But Adam’s heart has suffered enough, and it has no room for hopeful pining anymore. The words hang between them, a finality that neither wants to accept. Adam steps back. The physical distance mirrors the emotional gulf that has grown between them. He has nothing else to say.

Leon watches him go, that same crazed smile on his adorably curved lips. As Adam disappears down the stairs, Leon turns back to the moon, the only constant in his infinitely small existence, compared to that of his sweetheart. The cold bites into his skin, a small penance for the pain he's caused. But he wouldn’t know. The specter of Adam's pain lingers in some hidden periphery of his mind, and it’s a haunting reminder of the love he is slowly letting slip away. But it doesn’t even budge him. Leon’s stomach growls. He wonders if Adam will cook for him tomorrow. After all, he’s never truly gone, is he?

The night stretches on, filled with the quiet hum of the city below. The moon, silent witness, watches from the sidelines. Her eyes gentle, her smile malicious.

She couldn’t possibly look more gorgeous.

May 29, 2024 13:18

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Rozmarin Ideas
09:49 Jun 06, 2024

Hi Alessandra! I'm part of your critique circle for this week, here to offer my opinion. :) I'll start off by saying- holy moly, this is great. Your imagery and emotive writing are flawless- I was drawn in so deeply I could have drowned! Truly a brilliant story, well done! If I may presume to offer criticism, there were a few errors in tense and grammar that could be improved, but nothing major. Truly brilliant work. I wish I could like it twice! I can't wait to read more of you! :)


11:21 Jun 06, 2024

Thanks a lot for your critique, I’m so happy you liked this 💗💗


Rozmarin Ideas
10:12 Jun 18, 2024

Congrats on the shortlist, by the way! I hope you submit something more in the future.


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Emilie Ocean
17:05 Jun 03, 2024

The MOON!! I loved Moonlit Hazes. Thank you for sharing this short story with us, Alessandra. x


17:07 Jun 03, 2024

Thank you so much!!


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Story Time
17:39 Jun 13, 2024

There's this immersive quality to your writing that's just wondrous. I loved living within these words for a brief period of time. Well done.


21:57 Jun 13, 2024

Thank you!


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Alexis Araneta
18:39 Jun 07, 2024

Splendidly rich, emotive, descriptive prose. Lovely stuff ! I definitely look forward to more of this.


21:57 Jun 13, 2024



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Mary Bendickson
15:47 Jun 07, 2024

Congrats on shortlist.


18:02 Jun 07, 2024



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