Two Friends on the Library Stairs, After Hours

Submitted into Contest #175 in response to: Write a story that includes someone saying, “Thank you for that.”... view prompt

2 comments

Friendship LGBTQ+ Contemporary

Wow, this feels so…surreal.

What does?

Being back here, like this.

Oh, yeah. I know what you mean. It’s like, a good weird though. Like we went back in time or something.

Yeah, it’s great. I really missed this.

Me too.

How many years has it been, exactly? Since we were sitting here last, having a drink?

It must’ve been when we met up the year after graduation, when I was passing through for work and you were visiting Rachel, so like…nine years? Holy shit, nine years…It’s been way too long, man.

Nine years…all that time and you still willingly choose to drink PBR. (laughs) Are we technically old now?

God yes, I feel old. I’ll probably have a hangover tomorrow from splitting this six pack with you, and back in those days I think I drank like twelve beers a night. 

That’s not necessarily a bad change, Pat. 

You’re right, I know it. Remember that time we cut through the tennis court over there to get back to the dorm and we were completely trashed from that paint party and we didn’t realize that we had paint on our shoes?

Yeah of course, those footprints were there for the rest of the semester. I can’t believe we were never, like, caught for that.

We were young and stupid and lucky and drunk. Still, we were in our prime. 

Says who? I personally feel like I’m finally coming into myself. I think I wasn’t fully who I was supposed to be back then, like I was a totally different person.

Really? What’s changed the most for you?

I don’t know, I’m more confident now. I feel like I’m not afraid to…live my truths.

Hm. Like what kind of truths?

It’s hard to explain…I’m not afraid to express myself and my emotions anymore, I guess. I used to keep my walls up around everyone, even you.

Me? What do you mean?

I don’t know, I was just a lot more closed off back then. 

Huh. Is there something you wish I’d known back then?

No, not really. Just forget it, I’m being stupid and nostalgic. Pass me another beer?

No, it’s not stupid at all, I’m really glad that you’re becoming more….comfortable with yourself. Here you go.

Oh God, don’t say it like that!

You know what I mean. You seem way more confident than that quiet, gangly dude in midfield I used to know. I’m happy for you, man. 

Thank you.

Pause

Pat?

Yeah, Joseph?

I’m gay.

Oh.

Yeah. I’m sorry this is so sudden, I figured since I’m talking about living my truth I should tell you. I guess that’s what I meant earlier, I never felt like I could tell anyone when we were here before because I wasn’t even sure myself, and I was terrified of the guys on the team finding out, which is kind of fucked up when you think about it, right? And I guess I didn’t fully accept that part of myself until a couple years after we graduated, and by then you were in the Peace Corps and I couldn’t tell you then because- 

Joseph.

-because you were overseas and it felt like something I wasn’t ready to write in a letter and it didn’t go super well with my family when I told them and that kind of scared me away from telling anyone for a while, and-

Joseph!

Yeah?

It’s okay, man. It’s okay. I don’t see you any differently. I’m happy for you, I really am. I can tell you’re happier now. That’s really great.

Pause

Pat, did you know already?

Joseph…

Come on, just tell me, yes or no?

I definitely had my suspicions.

What! You knew? How did you know? When did you know?

I mean, I first suspected it that one time I walked in-

Oh my God please don’t make me relive that moment. That was freshman year! You knew freshman year?

It was just the first time I thought, like, maybe you were. Plus you didn’t really date any girls, and that was pretty much the only thing most of the guys on the team wanted to think about.

I dated Rachel!

Yeah, but that was like a second, and then you two decided to be best friends instead, so…

Oh God, how embarrassing…. 

Why is it embarrassing?

Because, if you must know, Pat, I had the biggest crush on you back in college. You were actually the one who…you know, made me realize. Because of how I felt about you.

Pause

Oh God, you already knew that too, didn’t you?

Yeah. I knew. 

Woooow. Here I was thinking I was doing such a good job of hiding it. 

To be fair, I do think you did a pretty good job.

But you never said anything! We lived together all four years of college and you never acted weird about it. You never told anyone on the team.

Well yeah, why the hell would I have done that?

Because you thought I was gross?

I didn’t think you were gross. You were my best friend. You were like my brother. I did love you too, you know. Just in a different way, but not any less. I didn’t say anything because I cared more about keeping you around than worrying about who you wanted to stick it in.

Wow. Thank you for that. You're a true friend.

Any time. Anyways, it’s not like you ever made a move on me.

Oh God no, I would have had a nervous breakdown if I had tried anything like that.

Pause

What would you have done if I did?

I honestly don’t know, Joe. Things might have gone differently than you thought…I guess I really don’t know. Don’t tell Nadia I said that.

Pause

I hope you know it’s different now. Like, obviously I still love you but like you said, like a brother. 

Yeah, I know that. You don’t have to tell me that.

I’m actually dating someone.

Hey, nice one Joe. I’d love to meet him some time.

Yeah, I would actually love that too.

Pause

It really is weird being back here. It looks the same, like nothing’s changed. 

Maybe nothing has.

Or maybe everything has.

Cheers to that, my friend. 

Cheers, brother.

December 02, 2022 21:14

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2 comments

Wendy Kaminski
22:47 Dec 14, 2022

I thought this was a really touching dialogue between two old friends, finding a new level/reality of friendship between themselves. Nicely written!

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AnneMarie Miles
14:56 Dec 05, 2022

This was written almost like a screenplay, and that is very cool. I love writing dialogue more than anything and I love reading it; sometimes the conversation has more to say than anything else, especially with a story with a topic like this; plus the title gives us enough information about setting. I'm glad Joe was finally able to come out to his friend and I'm glad his friend was kindly receptive..I like how he hints to a possibility of having been open to Joe's advances...make me wonder if something might happen later between them. My ...

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