Fiction: His Room
By Justin Jones
It’s a filthy, teenage-boy-like room. It smells not so great, but it smells like him. It smells like memories, like it always has.
There are dirty socks, shirts, and underwear strewn about, hidden between heaps of clean laundry. The bed’s unmade and, the sides of its mattress half naked, its fitted sheet is one touch away from snapping into itself.
Beside the bed there is a half-eaten bowl of cereal and an empty turned-over bottle of Orange Crush. And–dammit!–there are those damned window curtains he never put up, draped where they last were, on the back of his computer chair.
The blinds to the room’s only window are half-broken, creased in the middle, un-closable. They’re funny to look at, but annoying to wake up to.
His boyfriend maneuvers over this treacherous terrain and to the bed. The boyfriend pulls the fitted sheet over the mattress and sits.
“Making my bed is the thing I hate the most,” he once said on their first date. He was brave to show his boyfriend this pig pen so early on, but the boy knew they’d fall in love, and so it was.
His boyfriend looks at the ceiling, where there are the glow-in-the-dark stars they stuck there not so long ago, dollar-store stars that glowed only for minutes.
He’s gone, the boy to whom this room belongs, and it’s left just as it was: how he’d always kept it, dirty. He was a boy who hardly anyone knew, who wasn’t special in any particular way. He kept to himself most of the time, and told secrets to the only person in his life. His boyfriend.
There’s his XBox and some kind of headpiece he once spoke into when playing war games. And his computer, from where over the Internet they’d made their first dates and exchanged their first fantasies.
“One day I’m gonna get my shit together and I’m really gonna do good by you,” he said once, not long before he died. “You deserve to be so happy.”
His boyfriend’s eyes fill with tears at these memories, and pour down his face in rivers.
And there is suddenly a loud blaring noise. The boyfriend doesn’t jump, but laughs. It’s the damn alarm clock that no one can figure how to unset. He’d kept it because he was too stubborn to give up trying.
The boyfriend lays on his missing boy’s bed and curls up into a ball, in their favorite tickle-fight defense position. He holds his pillow and smells his smell.
Everything in this room is just as it was, the only thing untouched since he died. If only everything would be like this room, like it was, with him still in it.
The boyfriend rises from the bed, picks up the bowl of cereal and empty bottle of soda. He takes them, slowly, to the door, absorbing every morsel, every token, every smell, of this room.
He turns just before he leaves, and he sees on that bed the two of them, fighting, laughing, tickling, loving, kissing, holding. And the boyfriend switches off the light, to see now only the silhouettes of what once was. He squeezes his eyes shut to keep them there forever.
Justin Jones is a columnist for Lavender Magazine, Guy Magazine, and Florida Agenda Newspaper. He writes about things like being alive, being in love, and drinking too much. Facebook.com/JustinJonesWriter.
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