for nostaligia’s sake

I’ve been organizing some files today (I got a new computer a few weeks ago and I’m still transferring and consolidating things) and came across the first scribble of what would eventually become Chiaroscuro. This was written in January 2005.

Jamie & Ben: a love story

For years Ben has said they met at a party. “That’s not quite right,” Jamie says. “You met me at a party—I met you in the elevator.”

“Explain,” Ben says.

“About a week after I moved in, I was on the elevator and you got on with your bicycle. It was crowded so you were holding the bike upright on one wheel, and you were humming ‘Come On Eileen.’” He also remembers how Ben smelled—like grass stains and sweat, like he’d been playing football in the park—and how he smiled at everyone in the elevator.

“But we didn’t learn each other’s names until the party,” Ben points out.

“Didn’t matter. You were mine as soon as I heard you humming.”

Chance encounters in an elevator aside, it’s the party where the story really starts. It was summer, one of those hot nights in August when people pull out their boom boxes and buckets full of ice and beer, and there’s dancing and barbecue and sparklers up and down the block.

Jamie was new—to the building, to the block, to the city, to the country. He wandered down at the sound of music and spent an hour or so meeting new people, obliging them when they asked him to say “’ello love” (even though he was Manc, not Cockney), and gratefully accepting the burgers and beer pressed on him. The music made him bob his head but he wasn’t sure about dancing, even by himself on the edge of a crowd.

When he saw Ben—he didn’t know him as Ben at the time, of course, he was just the tall bloke with the bicycle—he paused, drank quickly from the beer in his hand and tried not to look like he was watching. Ben was talking to friends, laughing, dancing a little with a bottle in his hand, and Jamie thought, ‘Beautiful. Just beautiful.’

“I saw you,” says Ben. “I knew you were looking at me.” He had a beer to his lips when he happened to glance over, and paused in drinking to take in the slight, slender blond man who looked hardly older than a boy, with large eyes and a wide, friendly-looking mouth. He was intrigued then, just by the way the man was watching him.

Originally published at JennaJones.com. You can comment here or there.

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