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VOLUME 2, NUMBER 30    <>   MONDAY, AUGUST 27, 2001

ordinary lives

cheap words

Jake stared at his lover in disbelief. Had it really come to this, cheap words traded in the dimness of some forgotten bar at the edge of town? Strains of Tim McGraw filtered in through bits of conversation. Lookin’ for a place in the sun, I’m runnin’ out of places I can run...

“I never meant for this to happen,” Patrick said. The words hung in the air like cigarette smoke. “The last thing I wanted was to hurt you…”

“Right. You’re just getting off with some other flit — no problem, the whole thing’s got nothing to do with me.”

Patrick hung his head. “It’s not what you think.”

Jake took a swig of his beer. The bottle sweated in his grasp. “So what’s the gig exactly? You found someone better-looking? Younger?” He looked around at neighboring tables. “Is he here?”

“So, umm, that’s the thing,” Patrick fidgeted, eyes fixed on a scratch in the table. He ran his pinkie along its edges. “It’s not a guy, exactly. Her name is Jenny.”

“What?” Jake choked on a mouthful of beer.

“It’s... she’s not a man. Look, I know this is sort of a shock. When we met, I didn’t think I’d ever find what I was looking for with a woman again. But I never lied to you. You always knew that I was attracted to women, that I might be bisexual.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Jake shook his head. Bi. What the hell was that? Horny was more like it, getting his rocks off wherever he could.

“Like I said, the last thing I wanted to do was hurt you...”

“Yeah, well, you know what I think? I think this is all just a phase. Experimentation. You’re still trying to rationalize being different. You’ve never accepted being gay and now you’ve come up with this pansy ass excuse…”

“It’s not a phase and it’s not an excuse,” Patrick interrupted. “You’re always talking about choice. Well, this is my choice. This is what I am.”

“Hey, a closet is a closet no matter what you try and call it.” The candle on the table flickered under Jake’s vehemence.

“I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear,” Patrick answered quietly. “I didn’t really expect to be saying this. I never wanted to hurt you.”

Jake blew air through clenched lips. I never wanted to hurt you. What a crock. The only people who ever said that were the ones who hurt you the most.

The silence roiled in Jake’s gut. I never wanted to hurt you. He’d used the exact same words when he’d told his parents he was gay. I never wanted to hurt you. Look how well that all had ended up. Maybe they’d deserved better. He certainly did.

Jake pushed back his chair and stood up over his lover.

“Whatever makes you happy,” he said finally, and walked out into the open moonlight.

Vanitha Sankaran  is presently writing a collection of vignettes, to be titled Ordinary Lives. Her recent work can be found online at Prose Ax, The Independent Mind, Orchard Press Mysteries, and The Paumanok Review. Her current print work will appear in upcoming issues of Mindprints, The Guild and FUTURES. She is also an editor at the new e-zine flashquake.