He was the loneliest man in the world and you'd never know it. For years, I always saw him as this amazing creature, this person who defied all expectations of what a person could do. I used to admire him and secretly desired him to admire me, yet that was never the case. One look, one glance, one simple fucking word of acknowledgement from him was all I wanted. When months went by with sporadic conversations that ended with "so, what are you wearing?", I knew that my time with him was over. He only saw me as a piece of flesh, ass rather, than me as a full human being. I left and never looked back. Years later, while in a bookstore, I ran into him. He looked older yet still had that THING that made me want him as before. When I asked him how he was, he nodded his head and claimed that he was busy, oh so busy, and that he had to run soon for another project. I told him that I understood then made as if to leave, when he grabbed my arm and said that he had some time to spare if I had it as well. We found a quiet corner table near a window to sit down and enjoy. As soon as I did, he asked me if I was still single. I replied yes and that my life suddenly took a dramatic turn that made me happier for being so free. When I asked him the same, he refused to meet my eyes and instead shrugged. Life is what you make of it, he replied in a voice that suddenly sounded so frail. When I asked him what he meant, he finally looked at me then grinned. I don't mean anything, he said with a grin and it took all of my willpower to not take his hand and kiss each finger like I used to do. Instead, I checked my watch then said that I had to go. He rose with me and asked for my number, to which I gave him because, sure, I guess so. He then hugged me and kissed my cheek as his scent of clean cotton permeated my senses. When he pulled away, I felt my heart beat a little too fast. We went our separate ways.
It finally dawned on me as I enjoyed my massive bowl of angel hair pasta with meatballs at lovely Gerald's place that he was truly lonely. My friend, the one I loved and hated at the same time. When he looked at me, the way he asked for my number. The way he sighed without ever moving his lips. He was lonely. Such a being within the artistic community in our city with many friends always surrounding him. Yet, I finally knew better. Should I wrap my arms around him, pull him in close, and whisper, "You can let go now. I know your secret." Would he cry, or perhaps curse at me for knowing?
He actually called me a week later. Wanted to meet up for coffee or in my case, tea. I agreed then spent an hour figuring out my outfit with finally settling on one of my dark librarian looks. When we met up in the cafe down the street, he still looked older than before. We sipped on our drinks and made for the bullshit polite conversation that people have to go through in order to get to what's really bothering them. When he did, I was stunned. He told, no, rather confessed, that for years he'd been in love with me yet never knew how to tell me. How could I tell you something that I thought you would have rejected, he asked with a laugh at the end. I was stunned; I said nothing yet drank my tea to hide my shaking hands. I loved you regardless of our age differences, regardless of our race differences. I loved you then and . . . he glanced away. Damn that habit of his, I thought. I . . .love you now, he said as he took my hand in his. Can you ever love a broken painter? His hand felt so rough yet so real as he stroked my hand. I thought you were lonely, I whispered, to which he grinned. Of course I was and still am, he replied. Even if you say yes and I want you to, I can't ever get rid of that. I glanced out of the window and noticed how people slowed down as the world went on. I feel like I'm in a Wes Anderson film, I said. But in this reality, he replied as he leaned forward to kiss my hand, my loneliness loves you.
I said yes.