For some reason I spontaneously decided to write this quite unusual, though also quite thought-provoking, short story. I do a lot of creative writing independent of this site but have never strayed from posting directly relevant, third-perspective essays (minus "Why I am an Atheist", though that itself is still very on topic :P). This, however, is for once not related to ANY controversial matters, and whatever unknown motivation compelled me to share it here. Please bear note that this was written in less than seven minutes, so if it feels much too abrupt that's why, but I felt that it was "right" to stop there. Regardless, however, I hope you enjoy. (Note - the depicted picture is of me :D.)
John Smith is invigorated by last night, still in disbelief of how magnificent his Janis was. Sitting on the ruffled sheets of her cozy bed, sweat-stained and breathing exhaustedly, he’d held her tight after making love. It hadn’t been the first time for them, but even six months later, last night felt particularly outstanding. Therefore, as John sorts tiresome paperwork in the office this morning, nothing can upset him...
Then a fortnight passes and Janis brings him devastating news.
‘John, I went to the doctor today, and got tested. I’m so sorry to have to tell you, I feel so guilty, but you had better get tested right away. I have it, Johnny. I’m HIV Positive’, read her incredible Valentines’ Day card. His face sinks, his whole frame pales to a ghostly disaster like death, and all hope and happiness evaporates from his world instantly. He wants to scream, cry even, but he can’t because he seemingly has fallen to a petrified state.
Finally, 'Oh God, Oh God, holy shit …' John hollowly whispers to himself, still trembling the card in his fingers. He feels a murderous intent for once in his life, seriously wanting to kill Janis in this moment. Feeling maniacal inside, John suddenly suspects this was her ploy all along. 'But I can't even begin to fucking fathom how anyone, especially Janis, could be that heinous...'
Most of all though, John feels extremely stupid for not being suspicious of Janis' most bizarre fantasy: bitterly, he recalls her pleading to him before their first time six months ago, "Please, John, we have to make love on my period every time ‘cause it makes it go away the next day! Plus we don't have to bother with condoms since I won't get pregnant for sure!"
He remembers feeling uncomfortable when he heard Janis reveal her unorthodox fantasy, but only momentarily because, 'Nothing in the world mollifies me like Janis' soft voice, and oh, those pretty blue eyes of hers.' In John's heart Janis feels Heaven-sent, and who mistrusts a cherub's soothing words?
At this sharp realization, denial ceases to protect John, and he falls dizzily into his desk chair. He can’t believe his own pretense, or how he’d disregarded HIV and the AIDS epidemic as a “gay disease.” John tries and fails to remember ever worrying about contraction. Alas, for once in his life it's his unbecoming, biggest worry, now that his long-term girlfriend, the woman he resents loving more than anything, possibly plagued him with it.
John struggles to breathe as he feels all the fury really pronouncing: his muscles knot, his teeth begin grinding nonstop, Goosebumps ice his skin, and soon the desk shakes under his trembled armrests. Then, upon realizing the full, hard truth - that he was forcefully intruded upon these six months without even knowing, which no guy deserves from his girlfriend - the last straw unnerves: John slams his fists on the desk hard, and his 'I love NY' mug spills fresh coffee all over unsorted paperwork on his workspace. Furious no less than with the whole fucking world at this special moment, John roars indignantly, “Damn that fucking cunt - DAMN HER!”
His heart shatters in this beastly rage of hate for mostly Janis but also for himself as well, "Gentlemanly Johnny" (as Janis had nicknamed him the night of their very first date), as he too is no less guilty of participating in the unprotected sex that may have been DEADLY all along. Barely breathing beyond the hypertension, John thinks regretfully, 'I know for certain l contracted this incurable disease because we never used condoms! Why would we have?! We had her master birth control theory...' Smiling wryly, John Smith looks like a madman, an entity of total discomposure. 'Well, if I really am HIV+, I have no purpose. I'll be depressed because no woman wants a sexually gross, HIV+ lover. I'll be living a life of unbridled hate for Janis of course, and, well, for the newly-contaminated me, too! For ME, that's right, the fool who I dread ignorantly damned his own self; if the worst is true, yeah I'll still be John, sure I'll still be the same person...Just a contaminated, lonely, ostracized, burnt-out, death-sentenced version of myself, that is.'
John's thoughts only seem to leave him all the more traumatized as he ruminates on in his misery...
Mid-afternoon the next day, John races to the "Onroda Health & Wellness Center", the closest state-certified location for STD health and testing where disclosure of personal information, even his name, isn't required. Nonetheless, upon actually arriving, it turns out to be more unnerving for John to have this experience at the slow hour, unexpectedly: he blanches at the immediate dynamics in the nearly empty waiting room, and only draws attention to himself by choosing the remotest seat. The only people here are a few teenagers (whom, John suddenly remembers, are coincidentally off from school for Martin Luther King Day) and a circle of likely hookers (if their mini, mini-skirts and midriffs in fifty-degree weather were any indication). All of them stare at John studiously like he is an alien. John uncomfortably looks down to the ground instead, under his breath cursing them for not figuring that he sat farthest away for a reason. Ten times more nervous, John accepts that he may just look "out-of-place" in his suit and tie, although it wasn't as if he'd had any option other than to come straight from work (his boss having granted him only a half-day off)!
Thankfully, within fifteen minutes John is abruptly prompted by the nurse. He jumps up right away, so grateful to her for putting a short end to his vicarious experience as something like a zoo exhibit. 'Then again', John, paranoid, thinks irrationally, 'All the "luck" so far - finding out this place existed, and close by too, getting time off work, finding it without any problem when I normally suck with directions, and now fast service - makes me kinda feel jinxed!'
“… It may take at least three months from your most recent exposure for the virus to be detectable in your system,” the clinic nurse blandly explains to him. “Most people with HIV do not contract the virus after one encounter, as ironically it’s not a particularly embracive virus. However, the likelihood of infection increases with continuous exposures, obviously.” Compassion is traceless in her barren voice.
Hearing this petrifies John all the more. His stomach nauseates to the extreme, seriously as if he'd just finished 1000 cartwheels. It sort of makes him resentful of the nurse oddly, almost like she punched him in the abdomen herself. “Obviously,” John sarcastically snaps, more hypersensitive to her nonchalance by the second. He wonders how she would feel if someone was this apathetic to her in a serious circumstance like this. The perturbing thought makes him impulsively drag on, “Fucking splendid!”
The nurse's remoteness remains unchanged, amazingly unaffected by neither John's bright-red angry face nor his profane words. Looking at him plainly, she simply hands him the oral swab and asks procedurally, “Ready?”
Johns gulps painfully as shivery goosebumps instantaneously cross at every line of his body's paled-white skin. He barely manages to mutter half-audibly, “Ready.” 'Probably because I'm more unready than ever', John thinks silently...
Fifteen minutes later, John sits observing the other patients in the waiting room: the happy little girl being rewarded a lollipop by a doctor before leaving with her father, the smiling teenager with a bandaged arm, and the elderly man consoling his suffering wife in her wheelchair. They feel astronomically distant, losing their distinctions as John's reverie brings him into an abyss of blackness. John feels mutated already, positive he is, well, positive. The hypothetical bad turn-out unfortunately keeps seeming more realistic inside John, and this in turn makes him all the more aghast, distraught, and weaker no doubt...
'How can life go on if I have this disease, this death sentence? How would anyone ever want me, no matter how compatible? Who would take the risk with me?' John distractedly feels like a contaminated subhuman, not a true man but a soul punished for ignorance. If it is so that he was no rest for the wicked, if one of his and Janis' passionate love-making sessions had "done the trick" (so to speak), then the pieces to his life will destruct at the impact of a supernova –
“John Smith.” The nurse is back in no time, boredly calling his name at the door. John half jumps in his seat, totally startled. Unsurprisingly, the nurse looks just as indiscernible and removed. So without a comprehensible clue from her approach, he rises colorlessly, profoundly awe-struck by suspense.
John Smith, age 25, finally acknowledges how deadly ignorance can be. Now he only can hope that pure luck will somehow beat impossible odds for once in his life.
Richard Crest strutted down Arthur Avenue merry as can be, despite being surrounded by people at their rudest and busiest at the end of the workweek. As usual, 5 o’clock in Downtown Fairview on a Friday meant an overcrowded influx of workers, loitering schoolchildren, Jews rushing to synagogue, early partygoers, tourists, even belligerent locals with untrained pets. Adding to the unpleasantness, the city illegally left its roads filled with unmaintained snow, which made driving excessively dangerous every day this winter. (And of course, how did citizens react to this unnecessary, major driving hazard? Road rage!) Richard, funny enough, usually rather resented all the pandemonium at this time, but this evening, this special hour, there seemed to be a golden candle glowing out his heart.
He even joked offhandedly to a passing businesswoman about the hectic atmosphere after telling her the time at the crosswalk, saying, "I bet tourists see the lack of traffic patrol, the out-of-control driving, the craziness of hurrying pedestrians, and freak out over some oncoming disaster! HAHA!" Unfortunately, however, this didn't at all humor the woman, who sharply returned a disapproving glare at Richard. When the 'WALK' signal flashed, the businesswoman noticed Richard walking behind her, scowled scarlet, and fled in the opposite direction. It didn't make him angry though, even if it was a little disappointing. Laughing to himself, Richard just reminded himself that everyone else was still distressed like always by the usual pandemonium, and without a second thought dismissed the rude stranger.
Keeping steadfast, Richard continued jollily toward the next intersection. Soon, again because he was perfectly happy and not even partly stressed, he paid no worry as consecutive bystanders bumped right into him, each selfish and unapologetic in their separate harassed hastes. It was SO odd that Richard bit his tongue through each of the four back-to-back occasions of nasty strangers, especially now at 5:00 mayhem, and even odder...He wasn't feeling even slightly annoyed! No, tonight absolutely no misfortune could surmount him. Nothing whatsoever could dismay him this lovely evening, in which he had two special reasons to be elated: A), he'd just left his own awesome surprise birthday party; B), he was now heading to spend alone time with his girlfriend, which he was beyond ecstatic about, because she'd promised him ten minutes ago that the best surprise any 16-year-old birthday boy could ever want was waiting in her bedroom...
Yes, that’s right, Cindy Rogers was anxiously waiting to lose her virginity and take his this precise moment in her townhouse. 'Three more blocks!' Richard’s hormone-racing mind anticipated.
Both of them were sophomores at Jameson High School, having been sweethearts ever since a month prior to their first day as Freshmen! He’d been only a sightseer to his boys' constant adventures with hot pieces of ass; instead, Richard spent these past years relishing in pride every time one of Cindy’s many girlfriends mentioned how lucky Cindy was to have a sweet guy like him, and how they all, too, hoped to find a guy like him one day. Now, after nearly three years of faithful devotion to ONLY her - three years filled with love and affection but also, yep, a couple of fights and short breakups - at last it was all paying off.
Richard's head streamed through serene memories like these. All of the laughter from those fun days seemed to make all wicked things die ineffectually away around him. In fact, he probably looked maniacally peachy right about now. Reveling deep within his reverie's every blissful thought, as Richard eased the corner onto Pertinence Way, the final block, he was positively ecstatic to at least now know for certain that his beautiful girlfriend was literally seconds away from him in time. 'Yesssssss'...
Until an early drunk driver crashed catastrophically into Richard, leaving him in pieces with one final stolen breath and thought of Cindy before Death swallowed him under the last rays of sunset.