Paper Wings


(“Paper wings…all torn and bent…

You made me feel like they were heaven sent... –Gillian Welch)


Midnight arrives as I slide into her body.  Week after week, time after time, the tradition continues.  I come home late at night, weary, exhausted, not craving anything but a warm bed and a soft pair of lips to brush my forehead, but she insists on more.  More everything.  More kisses.  More touches.  More swipes of my tongue across a body that is hard and skinny from too much exercise and too little food.  It’s like being with a man…and yet nothing like being with HIM.


I wonder sometimes if it’s wrong to look at him the way I do.  The way others do.  With helpless adulation.  With star-laced, unfocused eyes that paint a picture nothing like reality.  With lips that dream of being harsh, demanding, stealing innocence from a sullen, fallen angel.  I look at him like a deity.  I treat him like a pariah.


It’s not that I mean to…at least, not all of the time.  Out of all of us, he is equally the most vulnerable and the most detached; a stranger in an even stranger land, off on his own cloud of venerable dreams and hapless fantasies.  He is ethereal and concrete, and to those who do not understand the dichotomy, he radiates a persona of pouting, tempestuous starlet who demands his every request because he knows he won’t receive it otherwise.




His name falls from my lips on a sigh and I am grateful when she does not hear it.  She is too caught up in her own pleasure, long tapered nails scratching down my back, adding more marks to her own peculiar form of branding.




I thrust particularly hard into tight, vacant wetness for no other reason than to knock the words out of her mouth, to silence the blasphemy she insists on proclaiming to anyone within a three-county radius.  So fitting that the very words others have used to describe her are thrown like barbs at me.


I suppose it’s my own fault.  I did, after all, choose her out of everyone in that dark, pulsing club.  I chose to make her my own, agreed to care for her, gave her things that she once only dreamed of having.  All I wanted in return was a companion, someone to belong to, someone who to be my ally in this strange little war against the public and the media.  I’ll admit it; I am clingy to the point of suffocation, but I am giving to the point of martyrdom, and most don’t mind the trade-off.


“Yes!  Yes!  YESSSSS!”


No, no, no…this is not what I wanted.  This isn’t what I signed up for.  This wasn’t the image she projected when she smiled at me so innocently beneath the flashing lights of the rotating strobes.  Not at all.  She seemed to have her own life, her own career…or so she said.  She seemed to understand where I was coming from.  I know now that this is only how she works; a simple way for her to get ahead.  But in that moment, when the glasses of rose slipped over my eyes as my tongue slipped into her mouth, I saw forever for the first time since…


I whimper, thinking of him once again, feeling the heat surge between my legs, hearing her high-pitched yelps of pleasure escalate as my body takes control once again.  Is it wrong?  Is it wrong to dream of him beneath me?  Of hard thighs and a stiff, leaking cock against my belly as my face rubs along the prickly flesh of his jaw?  Is it wrong of me to touch the emaciated body writhing below mine and dream it’s his strong chest and chiseled stomach? 


“Justin…” I groan again, spilling hotly into the very female body beneath me, and this time the fates are not so kind.  She goes rigid in a microsecond, those claw-like talons tightening in the tender flesh of my back.  I’m sure she’s drawn blood, because the sting of sweat seeping into the painful wound takes my breath away.


“Justin?!” She screeches, and I am lucky I am stronger than I look, because I know if I release my grip on her hips, she will throw one hundred pounds of woman scorned at my very vulnerable groin.


“You’re fucking thinking about JUSTIN?!  What are you, a fag?  My boyfriend’s GAY?!  What the fuck is this, Joshua?!”


I say nothing, smarting from the slap of her words, feeling bewildered over shame I thought had disappeared long ago.


“Answer me, Joshua!  ANSWER ME RIGHT NOW!”


I close my eyes and shrug, disentangling from her embrace.  It has been like this for I don’t know how long.  Fighting before the sweat even dries.  Arguing over petty things.  She wants to possess me.  It angers her infinitely when I tell her without words that I will not be possessed.


“That’s it, Joshua!  No more!  I can’t take this anymore!  You’ve lost me for good this time!”


Like clockwork, the tears and empty threats begin as her beautiful green eyes water on cue.  Thick crocodile tears streak her sweaty face and in a huff she collects the clothes I bought her, grabbing the keys to the car whose title is in my name and shoving them in a purse that I purchased.


“See how well you do without me, Joshua…” She hisses, and the most welcome sound in the world is her shoes echoing down the hallway and out my front door.


I am only slightly ashamed when relief is the first emotion that floods my body.  I am glad she is gone…but I know she’ll come back.  She always does.  And I will let her.


The others don’t understand the strange sort of tango between us.  They don’t quite comprehend the loneliness I feel at night’s darkest hour, when the pillows are cold and impersonal and my back aches from not feeling a body against mine. 


It is this thought that catches me by surprise, because I have only ever let one person hold me in their arms and that person is…


I clench my jaw, determined to will away tears of need and frustration.  I will go downstairs and I will make myself coffee and I will pound my piano and I will not cannot should not…


…think of him.  Oh Justin…God…


I can feel the first tingles of pleasure tickle the base of my cock as the memories wash over me in waves…the Plaza…overlooking the Park…with thick pillows supporting a perfectly rounded, slender ass…the Bay, in August, summer’s hot sweat dripping down a smooth column of spine…shivers escalating as an ice cube dances across my torso…winter…eyes rolling back in Aspen…the fire snapping warm and smoky as my back is abraded against thick, fluffy carpeting.  God…


I am hard again and I can’t stand it.  Angrily, fiercely I take my cock in my hands and begin to stroke, orgasm coming quickly as the onslaught of memories holds my libido hostage.


I cum into empty air; my harsh, ragged breathing splits the silence.


I collapse on the bed and close my eyes.




It must be after three when I once again awaken, body covered in goosebumps from sleeping too close to the air conditioner.  Sex, musky and raw, scents the room thickly, and I grimace as I feel the residual stickiness on my hands and thighs.


I sigh and head into the shower, turning the water to the coldest possible setting and spending only the barest amount of time underneath the harsh spray.


Last year, the perfect year, I might have lingered, giggling as my slippery body rubbed against Justin’s, both of us laughing and splashing and teasing each other as the water careened down over our slick bodies.  I could have spent hours in the shower…and sometimes did.


Now, it’s cold and lonely and it is my face alone that greets me in the harsh light of the mirror.  I gaze back at my reflection, at a man who has aged years in mere months, and glare at the dark hollows beneath my eyes and the jutting peaks of my cheekbones.  I look like hell.  A hallmark of my journey, I suppose.


I brush my teeth angrily, foaming like a rabid dog, punishing my mouth, scrubbing the taste of HER off of my tongue.  I can still feel her hiding in my mouth’s recesses, feel her fingers skating over my torso.  Always pinching.  Always scratching.  Never tender.  Always punishing.


I stop suddenly with my toothbrush hanging out of my mouth.


Is that why I chose her?  Because I needed redemption?  Because I longed for someone to punish me for my indiscretions, for hurting him like I did?  Was I looking for a masochist to wipe my soul clean, or was it any warm body that would do?  Surely when I realized how awful she was I didn’t stay with her because I felt I deserved it?...


The knowing look in my eyes is answer enough.


I pad out to my bedroom, still dripping water with every step, and throw open my closet.  A quick glance to the clock reveals it’s barely after four, but I have business to attend to, a dirty slate to wipe clean…promises to mend.


I grab the first t-shirt that my fingers touch and yank it over my head.  I throw on threadbare jeans and a pair of flip-flops, tugging at my curls to make them presentable.  I am halfway out the door when common sense makes a sudden appearance.


It is entirely possible that he won’t want to see me.  That he might throw me out.  That he might not consider my four AM visit a welcome one.  I race back inside the house, grabbing a bottle of wine and two crystal glasses, my stand-by peace offering.  As an afterthought I run back up the stairs, splashing on my favorite cologne, shivering as a teasing memory of him licking my neck, murmuring “you smell so fucking good, baby…” taunts me.  I say a quick prayer and run down out to my car, gunning the engine and speeding toward his place before I can talk myself out of it.


The houses speed by as the cool night air tousles my still-damp hair.  My hands drum nervously over the steering wheel, the hypnotic sounds of the CD on the stereo lulling me into believing everything will be just fine.


I haven’t been over to his house, alone, in so long.  Not since…I close my eyes.  I haven’t seen him since he told me he could never love me like that.

I didn’t believe him.  I still don’t.  Justin may be a great liar in public but he can’t fool me.  He looked at me with those baby blues and I could see his heart as clearly as it was painted across his chest.  He loved me.  And I let him go.


I don’t know why I chose to listen to everyone else.  Why I bought into that “if you love someone set them free” bullshit.  I always believed that if you love someone, you fight for them, and you don’t let them go when they’re scared or nervous or trying to leave you because the fucking public can’t handle the two of you together.


That stung.  Hard.  I couldn’t believe those words as they spilled from his mouth, but neither of us was thinking rationally, and it was just one more bruise across a battered and weary soul, so I took it for what it was and said nothing.


Justin.  Baby.  I regret saying nothing. 

I’m in front of his house before I even realize what’s happening and I feel immeasurable relief when the lights are all dark.  I shiver, thinking of how I’d quietly slip into his bed, wrap my arms around him, and kiss him gently and slowly awake…mmmm…his eyes would flutter open slowly, cloudy and sleep-tinged, before focusing on mine and fluttering shut yet again as he surrenders to my advances.


I am startled from my reverie as the light closest to the back door snaps on.  Through the inky shadows I can see his silhouette framed against the doorway.  His arms are crossed, his legs a shoulder width apart.  His posture is defensive, and that cold, smooth boulder that had previously taken residence in my stomach slides upwards into my throat, choking me.


“What do you want?”


His words are ice, laced with the scalding heat of accusation.  As I feared, my visit is not a welcome one, but in my own stubborn pattern, I jump immediately to the defensive.


“Jesus, Justin…I just wanted to drop by.  You don’t need to get all fucking bent out of shape over it.”


“You haven’t ‘dropped by’ in months, JC, and you fucking know it.”


Touché.  I swallow hard, mimicking his posture, and attempt to stare him down, my own eyes boring holes into his.


It infuriates and stuns me when he has the audacity to turn around and walk away.


I am left standing in his driveway, the cool night air producing goosebumps up and down my arms.  The forgotten wine bottle and glasses rest on the front seat of my car, and long moments tick by as I futilely attempt to form some sort of strategy.


In the end, I trot after him, cursing under my breath, biting my lip angrily and swearing up and down that this is the last fucking time I allow him to play with me in this manner.


The house is dark when I walk inside, and yet the surroundings aren’t threatening at all. They’re comforting, familiar, the same way they were when I left.  I ache to be in this house again, where every step, every room is a reminder of what we once had.


The dining room table…smooth, cool oak against my stomach, warm, soft body against my back…the kitchen…melted chocolate sliding against kiss-sweetened tongues, feet slipping precariously against shiny linoleum…the master bath…hot steam pouring from the showerhead, body pressed against slick tile, mouths moistened by careening water and slick from dripping wet bodies…


“What do you want, C?”


The question is the same, and I whirl around, startled, to see him standing a few feet behind me.  He was forever sneaking up on me, a modicum of grace despite his height and strength.  It was with him that I felt overpowered, completely vulnerable, and I grew to both love and loathe the sensations.


“I told you,” I whisper meekly, but I know without a doubt that my answer will not satisfy him.


He heaves a sigh and shakes his head, walking to the fridge and grabbing two bottles of beer.  He unceremoniously pops the top to one of the bottles and hands it to me.  I accept it and hastily swallow a few bitter gulps, hoping the alcohol will calm my nerves. 


“Well, you dropped by.  And we’re having a beer.  Fun.  How long do you have to stay before we can call this little ‘visit’ quits?”


My mouth drops open and I can’t conceal a look of hurt at his harsh words.  When I look at him his gaze is steady.  I don’t know why I expected to see an apology in his eyes, or why I expected this to go any differently than exactly the way it’s going now.  He had told me, straight up, that there was no “us.”  That I was a mere experiment, some month-long science project that culminated in mind-blowing sex and a perfunctory goodbye.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Being here now, with him standing in front of me, I finally understand it.  And I finally believe him.


“I’m, uh…I’m sorry,” I whisper quietly, and place my bottle on the table.  “Sorry for waking you up.  Sorry for…everything else.  Um.  I don’t.  I mean.  Uh.  Thanks for the beer.”  I stumble blindly through my words, refusing to meet his stare except for the last second, when I pray fervently for some glimmer of hope to shine through those endless blue eyes.  There is none.  It is over.  I accept my defeat and, though it kills me, decide to bow out gracefully.


“Anyway.  I’ll catch you around, y’know?” I say hopefully, and he shrugs, leading me to the door.  In the twenty minutes or so since I’ve arrived, he hasn’t moved his arms from where they remain crossed over his chest.


The front door opens with its customary creak and I turn to whisper goodbye.  Unable to help myself, I brush my lips across his cheek, desperate for the softness I once remembered. It is over far too quickly and I offer a sad little wave before crossing the threshold and returning to the cold night air.


He watches me walk away without blinking, sees me turn the ignition and back my car out of his driveway, with a look of perfect neutrality in his eyes.


It is then that the last shard of hope slips through my fingers…that my fantasies of hearing his voice call my name, begging me to stay, extinguish.  I won’t taste those lips again.  He won’t be rushing up to the side of my car, tangling his tongue with mine, indulging in the kisses we used to so enjoy.  He won’t drag me inside, hands running greedily over my body, guiding me into house and against the couch where he’ll make love to me until I cry, so intense are the feelings.  That angelic voice won’t murmur endearments hotly against my ear, nor confess his undying devotion. 


I clench my hands against the steering wheel and floor the accelerator, silencing my heart’s voice with the sound of squealing tires.


Hours pass and dark sky fades into deep purple morning light.  I am once again outside a house, bottle of wine in hand, heart pounding nervously.  I take a deep breath and exit my vehicle, opening the door with the key hidden in its usual spot.  The house is airy and light, the thin scent of cinnamon spiking the air as I wander up the stairs.


I stare at the body in the bed, wondering how things went so terribly wrong, hating myself for what I’m about to do, but unable to stop myself from doing it.


I sink slowly onto the bed, brushing my fingers across a soft, smooth cheek, forcing myself to smile when sleep-clouded eyes open to stare at me.




“Hush, baby…” I whisper huskily, tracing my fingers over full breasts and a supple throat.  “You were right.  I’m sorry…”


She accepts my kisses eagerly and latches onto me with more than just her body. 


“And Justin?...” She whispers.


I close eyes and force myself to say the word:  “gone…”


She purrs in satisfaction and efficiently begins to strip me of my clothes.


Morning arrives as I slip into her body.  Week after week, time after time, the tradition continues…and maybe, if it continues long enough…I will forget about what might have been…and come to terms with what will be.


That is what I want.


And someday, I’ll believe it.



© 2002 ~A.