Cover created by MC Houle, For the Love is an Open Road Event Publication Dates to be determined
I’ll always remember the first time I saw Okos. I was fifteen years old, and I was watching one of those meaningless TV show about obnoxious jackass with Jiffy whining in the background. I was doing a great job ignoring her, but my mother was having none of it.
“Jan, could you please let the dog out,” she asked me with a voice that made it clear I wasn’t to argue.
I sighed, but I grabbed the leash anyway. Jiffy was just too happy to oblige, and I waited for her while complaining in my yet inexistent beard.
That’s when I saw him.
He held a garbage bag in each hand, and he was hurrying to the green can on the side of his house. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, tall and handsome, and a few years too old for me. I watched him get back inside, flustered, and when I pulled Jiffy back into the house, I couldn’t deny my attraction to men anymore.
But I was fifteen, and I moved on. I’ve had dates and boyfriends, and more than once, I thought I’d found the one. I could never forget the first time I told myself I was gay.
It took ten years for words to be spoken between us. I was single for the first Valentine Day in years, and my well-meaning roommate thought it best to force me out of my solitude by pulling me into our local pub.
We’d just ordered beers when a warm melody stole my focus. The man on stage had black curled hair illuminated by the dark red lights and long fingers brushing a guitar. I didn’t recognize him then, but the low raspy voice as he sang his heartbreaking song enthralled me. Our eyes met, and the pub’s lonely hearts disappeared around me when he smiled.
Eventually, the acoustic music was replaced, and I remember the excitement as Okos headed for the bar. The barwoman slid him a glass of whiskey which he sipped before smiling at me.
“Hi,” he said, the gruff sound of his voice sending pleasant shiver to my body.
Right there, I almost forgot how to speak. “You’re really good.”
“Thanks, I’m Okos.”
His confusion was nothing new, but I chuckled nonetheless. “It’s my name. January. But everyone just call me Jan.”
He moved closer to me, and my heart missed a beat. “Let me guess,” he said, “you were born in January.”
He laughed then, and the sound of it made my body noticed how close he was. “Someone had a sense of humour.”
I was about to ask if he wanted to get out of there when we were interrupted by his friends. Alone at the bar once again, I didn’t notice right away the card he’d left with his empty whiskey glass.
I didn’t call him the next day or the one after that. But I kept going back to our meeting in my head; his laughter, the musky undefined scents of his skin, the lingering touches of our fingers just before he left. Twice, I found myself doodling him instead of working on my current freelance project.
The more I thought about him, the more I felt as if I had seen him before. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
When I finally did call him, I was a nervous wreck. I wasn’t new to hookups and dating, but I believe my subconscious already knew calling him was a life altering decision.
Our first date was – well, it was a first date; we got to learn about each other in semi awkwardness. I learned he was a music teacher in my old high school, which lead to the revelation that Okos was, in fact, the hot neighbour I’d fantasize about for a long-ago summer.
Before I knew it, we had a house, two cats and a ring on each other’s finger.
One hell of a happily ever after bliss. Or you know, a honeymoon pink tinted one.
“I don’t want a fuck friend.” I didn’t mean to blurt it out.
I wanted a boyfriend. I wanted what Geoff and Thom had.
“Your mother said you were confused. I was worried.”
“I’m not confused.” If there was one thing I was sure of, it was this one.
I woke up the next morning with a headache from hell and Philip moaning Victoria’s name in his sleep. His morning erection dug into my thigh.
I still remember the first time I really talked to the guy. Grade seven. Tall and thin with a geeky side, I was the bullies’ favourite victim. And then came Ryan Beaulieu, grade nine hotshot to the rescue. Last time I was ever bullied.