Untitled — Choose Your Own Romance — Chapter 15
Gabe was the one to finally break the silence. “All three of us are good friends. We recently went on a double date.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Gabe saw Lee give a quick look of confusion. Gabe continued, “On this date Kira and Wyatt had a particularly good time and got a little closer than before.” Gabe shot Kira a quick look and could see that she was extremely confused. He returned a look of ‘just leave it alone’ to her with a stern gaze.
“Well how awkward for the lot of you!” Kris said with a laugh. Betty joined in on the laughter. Lee still had a look of confusion on his face.
The room door opened a crack and a nurse poked his head into the room. “I’m sorry to interrupt but visiting hours are over now.”
Lee turned and grabbed the door handle. “Thank you, we will head out soon.” He turned back to the group. “Well, I hope you all don’t mind but Betty and I would like to say goodnight to Wyatt before we head home.”
“Wait, you aren’t staying with him!?” Gabe blurted out, realizing how desperate it sounded.
Lee and Betty exchanged a look, Betty looked as though she wanted to ask the same thing.
“Well, we aren’t as young as we used to be. As you well know, it’s been a long day for all of us and these hospital couch beds will only add to the stress. Wyatt is in good hands with the staff and we will be back early in the morning. Besides, he’s been sleeping without his mom and dad nearby for a few years now,” Lee said with a wink.
Gabe knew Lee was just trying to lighten the situation a little but he still felt it was wrong to leave Wyatt all alone. He decided in his mind it was a good idea to offer himself to sit by Wyatt’s bed and was opening his mouth to announce this decision when he felt Kira grab his arm.
“We will be going. Again, we are so sorry for this situation and we are both so appreciative of you letting us stay and see him. You all have been very friendly and it helps ease our minds after such a bad day,” Kira said. She looked at Gabe with a tight lipped smile, giving a little nod toward the door.
“Yes, thank you.” Gabe mumbled as he turned to follow Kira out the door. Suddenly he felt an arm wrap around his waist.
“You come back any time you need to see him. And cheer up, it’s all going to work out,” Betty said. She gave him a warm smile and then a hug before turning back to Wyatt. Gabe felt a calm emanate through him from her touch. Her kindness was the drug he needed and he was grateful.
Back in the car Kira and Gabe rode in dark silence. The red and white lights shining through the falling rain seemed to further separate Gabe from the world outside. He felt numb and wasn’t really thinking of anything in particular. It was just a dull feeling of sadness and emptiness.
“Betty and Lee seemed nice, don’t ya think?” Kira asked.
“Sure. Yeah, I guess.” Gabe said as he continued staring out the window.
Gabe turned to face her. He gave a look of irritation mixed with confusion. “Yeah, we’ve only known them for an hour, so ‘Yeah I guess’ seems like the appropriate response for a relationship of that length.”
“Well, you’d only had a relationship with Wyatt for about that long when you were already dramatically weeping for him” she said in a sarcastic tone.
Gabe didn’t care if she was just trying to cheer him up or lighten the mood for herself. Today wasn’t the day to mess with him even with the best of intentions. “Are you serious Kira? What the hell is your problem?”
She glanced over at him, a bit taken aback by the emotion in his question. “Whoa, sorry. I didn’t mean…”
Gabe cut her off “No, you never mean it. You never mean to be the feisty queen that gets away with treating people like crap because ‘that’s just the way Kira is. She’s true to herself and if you don’t like it, leave’.”
There were a few moments of tense, awkward silence before Kira dared attempt conversation again. “Well, I liked them. They seem like really kind and accepting people.”
Gabe shot a Kira a look of disgust. “Accepting? What exactly do you mean by ‘accepting’ Kira?”
Kira quickly glanced at him to see if he was serious and then stared back at the road. She had wandered into a landmine of emotion. Luckily, she had known Gabe long enough to know the way through. “I only meant that the few vague mentions of a possible relationship between you and Wyatt were not met with any uncomfortable sounds or looks. That’s good right?”
“Oh yes Kira, that is fantastic! All is clear! We now have the green light to be gay with each other. They will throw us a big gay wedding and then pester us daily about grandchildren. This truly is a blessing from above!” Gabe said.
Kira could only stare straight ahead at the road, not daring to engage Gabe any further.
“You have no idea what it is like Kira. To have to hide who you are for fear how someone will react to you. Not reaction to something you said, or something you did. We are talking about a reaction to who you are as a person. The very essence of what makes you, you. And the worst part? The WORST part is the initial reaction isn’t even the scariest one. I’ve had people begin to hate me even after first ‘accepting’ me. That means that someone found out even more of what makes me, me and decided at that point they were disgusted.” At this point Gabe was crying and having a hard time speaking without shaking. “You have no idea what it is like to love someone and not know if they will find you so repulsive that they actually hate you for loving them.”
Kira continued to stare straight ahead, hypnotized by the patterns of rain streaming down the windshield. Gabe was right. She would never understand the hatred he had faced in his life. What he was saying caused her throat to swell and she felt the urge to just break down. She felt so bad for her friend. But he was wrong about one thing and he needed to know about it now.
“Gabe?” She whispered. Gabe was turned away from her now, staring out the side window. He made no movement in response to her so she continued. “I can’t possibly understand what you have to deal with. I never will. But I do know a little something about unrequited love.” Kira looked over at him, trying to keep the courage to move forward with her confession. “I’ve loved someone so much it hurts but never said anything because I was afraid they would hate me and the thought of losing that friendship was worse than anything I could think of.”
Gabe slowly turned toward her, his eyes puffy from crying. “Are you seriously comparing your childhood crush on me to my struggles as a gay man in love with a straight man?” Gabe said in a quiet and measured tone. “I’m sorry, are you worried that people will beat you because you were secretly writing my last name down in your notebook?”
“Gabe, that isn’t fair!” Kira screamed, crying now. She was trembling with anger. “And it wasn’t a childhood crush, Gabe. I am still in love with you.”
Gabe stared back at her for a moment, a look of shock on his face. But that quickly faded. “Somehow you always find a way to make everything about you. You have a gift for it.” Gabe felt sick. He knew this was mean but he was so filled with rage about everything he didn’t care so he kept going. “You managed to get the man I love to tell you that he really liked you. This same man is now in the hospital and may never wake up. You decide to take that opportunity to make me feel even worse by saying you are in love with me when you know nothing will ever, EVER happen between us. So now I get to feel like a bad guy that is supposed to know what you are going through. Are you just afraid that once I find happiness I won’t have time for you anymore? I mean, you couldn’t have orchestrated a more perfect plan for keeping me to yourself if you tried.”
The car came to a stop and Kira threw it into park. “Get out!” she yelled.
Gabe felt inside another flash of regret. But he was no longer in control, his pride was. “Gladly,” he said as he opened the door and stepped out into a light drizzle and the thick smell of rain.
“I hope you can claw your way out of that deep pit of self-loathing and join me again in the real world. I will give you some slack because I know how hard this all is for you. But I really hoped you would also recognize that it is hard on me too. I love Wyatt, too. I am not as sure as you are on what kind of love it is, but regardless I do love him. Just like I loved you.” Kira said, crying again. “But don’t worry. The last thing I want now is to keep you to myself. Someone else can deal with you.”
Gabe felt horrible. He was angry with everyone and everything including himself. He also now felt a wave of regret for what happened since leaving the hospital. He couldn’t quite figure out his feelings, why he was being so nasty to Kira. But part of him resented her. Kira obviously had a shot with Wyatt. Gabe only had a long shot.
“I’m gonna take a few days. I’m sorry. I just need to be alone for a while.” Gabe said.
“Fine,” Kira said.
“Good night.” Gabe said as he shut the car door.
Kira quickly pulled away and Gabe just stood for a moment, watching the two red lights disappear into the night. That empty feeling settling in for an extended stay.