VI.

PB was a place rife with inconveniences: a narrow, creaky bed provided by the theater where  one couldn’t even sit up without careening into the top bunk; sunburnt noses and shoulders;  and sand that finagled its way onto and into every surface imaginable – toes, teeth, eyelashes  and even my luggage, which I discovered when I finally unpacked months later. Still, the “consequences” of the environment were a small price to pay for such a rich partnership. We were blissfully ignorant to them, gladly enduring the un-air-conditioned bedroom with its  cheap, itchy pillows so long as it meant more time alone. These minor annoyances were a  buzzing mosquito, and we were a deep, uninterrupted sleep. The pest would simply have to  find someone else to awaken and feast on.  

Everything about him radiated with warmth. Whether it was his forehead pressed heavy  against mine, or his hands anchoring my hips and ankles, no amount of proximity felt  satisfactory. I always wanted more, icy as the 2 a.m. ocean bellowing just a 10 minute walk from our lodging. I told him I loved him far before either of us were ready, just as he slid inside me. After, I brought my drunken lips close to his ears and insisted he say it back. He bit his tongue and smiled, tipsy and elusive. He finally did tell me a few weeks later.  

The summer – my ideal time for romance – was too sensual and too short. We never had sex  on the beach (to combat the cliche), but we loved sneaking out to the shore at night,  especially in the middle of a party. It felt good to relish in the exclusiveness of Us. He would  map out the big dipper, and we’d hike up our pants and masochistically venture out into the  frigid water, giggling and shivering before using each other to heat up again. 

His birthday was exactly one day before mine, and he mused that it was so he only had to  suffer without me for 24 hours. It makes sense then why things fell apart so quickly once  distance was introduced. How could a phone call compete with fireworks on the 4th of July,  shower sex, and splitting a bottle of red wine? I could no longer feel his fingers on the back of my neck as he’d whisper “look at me.” I grew skeptical, jealous, and combative without his heat, and he grew more passive the colder I got. 

In person, we said our goodbyes in the same room I told him I loved him, and he read me a  letter on a piece of worn looseleaf paper, thanking me for my companionship. If I could, I’d nip our fling at the bud right then and there, stopping it from growing into something so  distressing and unfortunate. Now, our connection exists as something entirely different – innocent, harmless, and cordial. My nose is completely healed, and the pillows I sleep on are  my own.  

Sometimes, though, I still find sand in my room.

Jose Useche is an actor and writer from Queens, NY. As a writer, his web series pilot SLUT has received laurels from the Official Latino Film Festival, the Baltimore Next Media Web Fest (where it won best LGBTQ Web-Series), the Chicago Pride Film Festival, and Web Series Festival Global. Jose has written jokes and questions for SCRUFF’s in-app game show HOSTING, and does communications for several LGBTQ nonprofits including the Arcus Foundation, the Transgender Law Center, and PFLAG NYC. His personal blog, Manic Hispanic, has garnered over 10,000 hits in its lifetime.

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