This piece was originally written for the Rites of Spring Blog Hop challenge, to elaborate on a character’s first. Of course that would be Tarik, the lovely bachelor from Traveler Through Darkness, a novella in Decadent Publishing’s The Edge series. If you haven’t yet read it, you won’t spoil it by reading Tarik’s first. If you have read it, perhaps you can better understand his conflict, thus his choices.
It’s not that I hadn’t been attracted to men before Wo. In reality, I probably did have plenty of opportunity to act on that attraction years before we met. Most certainly I was raised in a culture that doesn’t approve of homosexual dalliances. In fact, after my time in the Ba’athist Iraqi Republican Guard, I knew many men who merely were suspected of being homosexual that were killed. Those who were known to have relations with men met a much slower, painful fate, though the outcome inevitably was also death.
Perhaps I should have owned up to my true yearnings and faced down threat of death to stand in my true self. I preferred life, however, and the possibility of living it truthfully. That my life smothered under the weight of a lie isn’t at all too dramatic a metaphor. I just became very good at hiding who I really was, who I really am.
Despite deep misgivings, I attended my bachelor party with all intentions of following through as planned. Plans change, don’t they? Shouldn’t they, when free will and destiny collide in clarity that can only change the course of a life? Wo and I collided, and nothing has been the same since.
Two nights have past since my bachelor party. For two sunrises I’ve awakened to his sweatshirt on the pillow next to mine. I’ve folded it countless times, shoulder seams perfectly aligned, crisp folds to the elbows, the hood tucked beneath in a neat package. An old soldier’s habits die hard. On the chest of the soft fabric is emblazoned his school crest, the insignia of the very department of his studies. I track my fingertips along the smooth coolness of the appliquéd lettering, flexing the grey cotton in my fist. My other hand curls around the lined yellow paper in my pocket, the one upon which is scribed his phone number, address, schedule. You see, in this wonderful age of information it’s not a difficult task to locate him. Looking across all the years of my life, I see that it was never difficult to find Wo. The challenge has never been to walk forward into a new life, but to gracefully depart from the old one.
The day’s shadows give way to twilight, and I find myself anxious on the stoop of a flat just outside City Centre. The folded sweatshirt is tucked neatly under my arm, along with his drawings.
As I reach to buzz the door eager coeds burst from it, and I catch the door handle as they pass by. Standing at the threshold, I wonder if this can be my new life.
Traveler Through Darkness is available on:
A lifetime of want collides with fate the night of Tarik’s bachelor party, fulfilling his deepest secret desire—only it’s not with the strippers his Arab friends hired to cater to his every whim. Uncomfortable with the debauched festivities, Tarik ducks out of the soirée, stumbling into Wo, a kind Navajo artist, who forces him to say what he really wants, then gives it to him, all night. From Traveler Through Darkness