• 1 •
The sex is fine. Good, even. As the two of you are cleaning up, he says: “I wouldn’t mind doing that again.”
“Neither would I,” you say.
Every week or two for the next five years, you do it again.
By the second year, you’ve realized he’s in love with you. You love him too, but he wants a future with you. Kids. You want to leave your crafting projects sprawled out unfinished; he wants every item to have a home. You want to be able to backpack through Europe on a moment’s notice; he already has and knows you never will.
You both date other people, but keep each other on the back burner, leftovers ready to reheat.
He never eats leftovers, which you think is wasteful.
Then he really meets someone. Says they’re trying out monogamy.
Says that again after a slip-up.
Then he’s gone.
A decade later, you see him at a theater. He looks a decade older, but the same. You feel a warmth you never felt in the past. Maybe nostalgia. Maybe loneliness. Maybe you’ve been wrong all along.
You walk over to say hello and give him a hug.
He introduces you to his partner.
• 2 •
The sex is fine. Good, even. As the two of you are cleaning up, he says: “Remind me your name again?”
At first, you’re mad, until you realize: You don’t remember his, either.
You shake hands, then grab your wallet and keys.
As you wait on your Crunchwrap Supreme in the Taco Bell drive-thru, you realize you just shook hands with someone who’s been inside you.
You think about that handshake.
• 3 •
The sex is fine. Good, even. As the two of you are cleaning up, he says: Nothing.
He’s avoiding eye contact.
“It’s okay. Really,” you tell him from the shower. It’s obviously not the first time this has happened, and you’re not judging him.
“I thought I … prepared,” he says.
He messages you later to apologize, again, and again you say it’s fine. He says that even though it ended … poorly … he likes you and wants to see you again.
You tell him you think you should just be friends, even though you don’t have much interest in being friends.
He agrees and texts you the next week to get drinks, as friends.
You’re friends. For years.
Once or twice, while traveling or after a party, you end up in bed together and evade jokes about what happened until you’re both satisfied, and then you laugh.
You take him to his chemo appointments when he gets sick, call him Lance Armstrong. He watches your dog while you’re out of town, cusses out your shitty ex when you run into him at a bar.
Fifteen years after you meet, you replace “Grindr” with his real last name in your phone.
• 4 •
The sex is fine. Good, even. As the two of you are cleaning up, he says: “Good stuff.”
“‘Good stuff’? Really?” you say. You laugh and kiss him on the back of the neck. Then worry that was too intimate too quick.
He brushes it off, and you’re back on the bed before either of you have had a chance to recharge. When you realize the physics are against you, you settle into each other’s arms, turn on an episode of Schitt’s Creek, and fall asleep.
In the morning you tell him, honestly, that it’s the first time you’ve slept over with a one-night stand.
He asks if this was a one-night stand.
You tell him you’re not sure.
He smirks, then tells you he can’t stand sleeping with the TV on, that he didn’t get any sleep.
It’s not a one-night stand.
Three years later, he’s sobbing into your shoulder at his mom’s funeral, not tears of sorrow at her loss but tears of loss that he feels no sorrow. A year after that—he moved in two years ago now—you’re arguing over flowers for the wedding: He wants baby’s breath in the bouquets; you tell him it’s invasive.
At ninety, his heart failing and your mind fleeing, you give each other a kiss, drink down your two capsules each with his favorite Japanese whiskey, and go to sleep.
Mark Bessen (he/him) is a queer writer living in Austin, Texas with his partner, cats, and chickens. Follow him on Twitter: @markbessen.