I woke up very late at night, practically in the morning but it was still very dark. Out of instinct, I headed to the kitchen and drank some water, somehow exhausted after sleeping for a couple of hours. Some of the water spilled onto the floor but I didn’t clean any of it. I was too tired to do it, maybe too lazy.
Walking towards my room, I found myself looking out the window on the living room. The rain was pounding the glass with an extraordinary force, not stopping for a second. Outside it was still pitch black and nothing could be seen except the light of a couple of streetlights covered in the haze. Somehow, that sight proved fascinating but not because it was extraordinary or something like that. It just reminded of something a long time ago, somewhere else.
He had been removing rocks and dirt until he found it, a shoebox that didn’t look like much but had a small treasure inside. The directions he had received had been correct and now he could finally complete his mission, a very strange one that had been commended by someone he loved deeply. He put the box on a bag to protect it from the rain and ran towards his car. At first, the machine wouldn’t start but it finally did and he was en route to his lover, prepared to see the look on his face when he received the box.
He called the man and arranged for them to meet on a restaurant. After all, they didn’t really want their families to know and it was going to be much more fun to do it in a public place, with a some eyes looking at them and not even knowing what was going on. He arrived at the restaurant first; a little too wet, and decided to ask for a tea to warm up. The bag with the box was next to him and he had decided not to open it to see its content. He wanted to see Lee’s face when he showed it to him.
Time went by fast. He ordered another tea and then something to eat and finally the check. He had been waiting for three hours and Lee had never arrived. He felt sad, a little bit betrayed, and knew that all his effort and, a very probable flu, had not being enough for him to show how much love he had for Lee. When he got home, his mother asked him where he had been all day but he didn’t really answer, only grunting and heading straight to his room. He even put on the lock and turn off the lights.
There was no way he was going to sleep well that night. He hadn’t received a call or a message or anything from Lee and he was determined not to do anything because he was the one who had made a great effort to make Lee happy so at least he deserved to receive a call explaining why he had alone at the restaurant all night.
The next day, Lee went to work and there he did receive a first message. It was an audio message so he had to put on the headphones he kept in his backpack and try to listen to the message fast, before someone came in to annoy him. At first he didn’t really understood anything. He raised the volume and tried to hear but then someone came and scared him, making him drop his cellphone, which got disconnected from the headphones and started yelling the message for everyone to hear. He was very fast, grabbing it and turning it off, but not fast enough as everyone in the room was watching towards his cubicle. The person that had come to ask him something, left without any more words.
The message was short. It was Lee crying and telling him that he loved him and that his parents had discovered their pictures kissing on the computer. He didn’t explain how that had happened but he was crying a lot and that was why the message couldn’t be understood in a lower volume.
He was sad to hear that Lee was sad and even thought of visiting him but he knew his family would not allow that. After all, they were the kind to go to church every Sunday without fail and they celebrated every single day of the Holly Week and Easter and the days leading to Christmas. They were really obsessed with their children having a religious education and strong background. They believe that it gave them a strong moral compass. So that’s why discovering those pictures had been such an awful thing for them. It mean they were failing.
So there was no way to see Lee. And, ironically or not, he missed his kisses and his hands and his body. He missed the fact that he was a little more sensitive than he was but also much wittier and he didn’t even know it. He was the kind of person that would be ashamed if someone else called them “smart” or “funny”. He didn’t like to be in the spotlight at all, preferring to be the one behind the scenes.
That phrase is actually pretty accurate because that’s how he met Lee, behind the scenes. He had gone to see this play a friend had recommended and he had never been a big fan of theatre. It bored him deeply every single time so in the intermission he decided to explore around and just look for something fun to do. The exploration served him well as he found a very busy Lee trying to fix some problem with a prop that wouldn’t stand up. He helped him put of boredom and at the end he was already enthralled.
He had liked his kind face, his voice that was very soft but not acute and the fact that he was there, on the background, all alone. He knew only someone really interesting would be there. They exchanged phone numbers and that was it.
They only talked many days after that, when he found Lee’s number again and decided it would be nice to have someone to go to an exhibition on a museum he had to attend because of his work. The idea was to have someone to have fun in a place where he knew he would get bored. But Lee was a box full of surprises. He was actually very interested in the subject matter of the exhibition and explained him how everything worked and what it all meant. So it was much more interesting that he had thought before hand and he was able to know more about the guy that kept entering his brain when he wasn’t aware.
They met several times in the following months and then he asked Lee If he wanted to be his boyfriend. Lee accepted but explained his family situation to him, which didn’t made any difference at all, not back then in any case. They had been together for some months until the parents found four innocent pictures of the two guys kissing and then they treated their own son like a prisoner, not letting him out. He worked from home, writing for a magazine, so he kept his work and they kept paying him but they didn’t know what was happening with him.
Lee did not have many friends but those few he had tried to enter his house several times and they succeeded on some of them. They were able to tell him what had been going on outside and ask him if he wanted something from the outside. His parents had removed any device from his room so he took the chance to write a letter to him and give to his friend for her to take it to him. It was the only way.
She was a very kind person who he did not know very well but one day she called him and arranged a meeting. She told him everything about Lee and what he was going through and, after some hesitation; he gave the letter to him. After he read it, he was crying profusely, not knowing what to do or where to go. He felt very lost and insecure. He felt nothing made sense anymore. He wanted to fight everyone himself and let them see what he was capable of but the letter had been very clear: nothing would work.
The relationship ended and Lee transformed into a faceless god that I see every single time this kind of storm unleashes all its strength against the world. I remember wanting to be like the storm, going against everything in order to get what I wanted. But Lee is a part of my past. Almost a year has gone by and I don’t know anything about him and I think its better that way. Maybe he hasn’t been freed or maybe he was sent somewhere else. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s now free and doesn’t want me to see him ever again.
I don’t care. He had a special place in my heart. And his treasure is still there, in the top shelf of my closet, waiting to be opened.