Under the Light

Submitted into Contest #105 in response to: Write your story from the perspective of a side character.... view prompt


LGBTQ+ Romance Inspirational

One, two, three gulps of coffee.

One, two, three eye drops.

Marco looked like a zombie. Only at least zombies, in spite of their lack of life and brains, still had a purpose: to kill humans. For the past few months, Marco flew like a dart with no intention of reaching any target.

But he wouldn't tell me why.

Every time I asked him what was wrong, he'd shrug and say he was okay. The bags under his eyes told me otherwise.

Marco looked at me, probably having noticed I was staring. "What?" he said, but not unkindly. Curious.

"That's your third cup of coffee."

"We work at a coffee shop, Bee. What'd you expect?"

It was a joke. I knew that. But I couldn't really see that familiar spark of amusement in his eyes anymore. He walked out of the break room, and I followed him.

He stood behind the cash register, replacing Chad, and asked the woman who was waiting in line for her order. This was the only time he looked like a motivated human. The only time he smiled. Even though it was a polite smile intended for the customers, I was happy to see his lips turn up at all.

After work, we headed back to my place. Even though Marco rarely talked to me now, he only left my side when it was absolutely necessary. I wasn't bothered. Something had happened to him, and he didn't want to talk about it, but he wasn't ready to be alone.

You can't abandon someone in that position. Even if they keep their mouth shut.

Marco laid on my bed while I got ready for the party. We made small talk. I made some jokes, and so did he, but the electric current that made me feel alive was dead now. While facing the mirror, I stared at him.

A starfish. Over the blankets. Eye closed. What was he seeing in that mind of his?

"After you," he said before we walked out the door. The party was only a block away, and the night air was warm. He walked beside me. Our arms brushed.

"You know you can talk to me about anything, right?" I told him.

Marco didn't say anything for a long while - not until we'd practically reached the front of the house.

"What if I want to keep something buried?" he said.

"You can't."

"Why not?"

"We're human. Our emotions can't be buried."

Marco looked at me, and I thought, This is it. The gates of heaven would open and sing, and even if what he told me was dark, it would still be light. Because he was light.

Instead, he said: "Then I won't bury them. I'll throw them into the ocean."

At the party, Marco drank from his red cup. Over and over again. I watched him from the couch, only half paying attention to my friends.

It was so ridiculous. So pathetic. So sad. How quickly he'd become the main character of my own life.

I was not Beatrice. I was not Bea. I was Bee. His bee. Narrating his story.

But the worst part was that I couldn't tell it well because I didn't know everything. I didn't know why his eyes looked so far away. Why he stared into his cup like it held his buried answers. Why he sat in the corner and pretended to enjoy a party when he clearly wanted to be somewhere else.

That was always the question, wasn't it? Where did he want to be?

I stood from the couch. It shattered me to think that he couldn't take it anymore. Drowned emotions and buried stories and hidden scars could all be damned.

But I stopped. Because Marco had looked up and blinked and then frozen. Then his face collapsed like a building. A furrowed eyebrow, a crinkle at the top of his nose, the two shattered windows of his eyes, pouting lips. Like someone had taken his heart out of his chest and crushed it between their hands.

I looked away from him and toward the direction he was looking. There were too many people. Women drinking. Men laughing. Couples dancing. Two men, holding hands -

One of those men, looking toward Marco.

The man stared only for a beat before looking away and yanking the man he was with away. I looked back at Marco. Marco looked at me.

That was all it took for me to understand, to uncover, to finally see my main character.

He stood and ran through the crowd, past me and into my shoulder, and out the door. I didn't hesitate to follow him immediately. I never did.

He stood at the curb, under a streetlight. I could see him so clearly now. How had I managed to blind myself? I knew my answer, of course.

He was my main character. Manipulated and distorted in my vision. We could take anything and anyone and make them fit the mold in our minds, but we rarely worked on fitting into our own mold.

I reached Marco. "He broke your heart, didn't he?"

A single sob. One that sounded like it'd been yanked from the deepest parts of his soul so hard that it hurt.

He fell, and of course, I caught him.

It was the only time I would be able to do that.

"I thought he was the love of my life."

I stroked his hair. Kissed his head. Hoped he didn't feel the tears that fell from my chin. "I know."

"I can't sleep. I can't eat. What am I supposed to do? He was my everything."

I didn't answer him. I sat there and I let him cry. It wasn't until his sobs died, until he'd told me how they met, what they were like together, the breakup, and everything in between, that I finally said what was on my mind.

"Maybe that was the problem."


You made him your main character."

"Isn't that what love is?"

I shook my head. "Love is when you can stand under the spotlight together. It's not putting one person under it." I squeezed his shoulder. "You just need to find someone who's willing to stand in the light with you. That's when you'll know they're right for you."

"How can you be so sure he wasn't the one?"

"Because the one will want you back." My heart clenched as I said it.

I stood and offered him a hand. And for once, I didn't feel like he was looking up at me. I was looking down at him. My own main character.

For a single moment, we stood under the street lamp together. Then, we stepped off the curb and we walked.

August 05, 2021 17:06

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