Poison's Bend: Chapter 2
Warnings: partial nudity
My name is Aerin Elivagar,” I said to the skittish-looking young man that came walking past my home one morning soon after I moved in.
“Um... Nervous...” he stammered.
“No, I’m not,” I replied. “Are you?”
“Yes. Well, no... I mean, that’s my name,” he said.
“Oh. Well, would you like to come inside? It’s so warm out... and I have fresh lemonade...”
His full name was Nervous Subject; not his given name, he told me. He didn’t actually remember what that was and his birth mother wouldn’t tell him... claiming it was too “painful,” for her to remember “those times.”
“So who gave you the name you use?” I asked, sipping my lemonade.
“Circe and Loki Beaker,” he replied, a distinct tone of distaste in his voice. “... because I’m so jumpy, they say... and because they do tests on me.” He drained his glass, sat it on the table and sighed.
I couldn’t believe I’d heard him correctly. “Did you say they do tests? What kind of tests?”
He shrugged. “I dunno... tests. Like medical tests. Scientific tests. I don’t know what they’re for. Sometimes they hurt, though”
I was horrified. “But they can’t do that!” I protested. “Doesn’t anyone stop them?”
He laughed a strange laugh that sounded almost like a sob. “You’re new around here, that’s for sure.”
“Can’t you leave? Find somewhere else to live?”
“Where would I go?” he said petulantly.
“Well...” I didn’t know how to answer that. “...um, let me get you some more lemonade, okay?”
“Sure. Thank you.”
We talked long into the night.
He didn’t leave until nearly three in the morning; when he was sure both his captors would be asleep and wouldn’t hear him come in. He was clearly afraid of returning, but it was also obvious he was more afraid of what would happen if he didn’t.
The next day I was relieved to see him outside my door again. “I snuck off,” he said, grinning like a mischievious child.
I couldn’t help smiling back.
“You had better come inside then,” I told him. “...just in case they’re out looking for you.” I held open the door and laughing, he rushed into the house.
So, a friendship was begun.
A friendship, and what I fervently hoped would eventually be more.
To my chagrin, however, Nervous seemed strangely indifferent to my romantic advances. When I subtly let him know I would be interested in taking our relationship further, he didn’t reject me... exactly... but I could tell his mind was elsewhere.
I chalked it up to all of his frightening experiences in life, and I persisted. Soon I did feel some response in him, and I rejoiced... we were falling in love.
He moved in, bringing little with him except his gratitude. Finally, he was free, and I was going to have the family I craved!
We were both wrong.
Nervous asked me to marry him a few months after he moved in.
I accepted joyfully, even though something told me his spirit wasn’t in it. I knew he loved me... his ardor was undeniable. Many times he had crept upon me in the conservatory or the library and rendered me breathless with kisses.
I could not understand the hesitation I sensed from him, but I was soon to find out the underlying reasons for it...
The evening after our engagement, I prepared a romantic dinner, complete with candles, flowers, and wine. I wore a garment that hardly covered enough flesh to be considered clothing, and I left no doubts as to where I wanted the night to end.
We were engaged... soon to be married... we shared the same home and we both wanted children. Why not take that next and ultimate step?
He seemed willing enough... he undressed and lay with me on the bed, but as the passion intensified, I was suddenly pushed forcibly away!
“I’m sorry, Aerin. I can’t do this.” Nervous rose from the bed and walked off a few steps; his back to me and breathing hard.
“What do you mean?” I demanded, hastily tying a robe around myself to hide my nakedness. “Nervous, I thought you cared about me... I thought that we...”
“I do care about you,” he interrupted in a quiet voice. “A lot. But... not like that. I’m sorry.” He sighed and turned to face me. “I can’t do this anymore, Aerin. I’m gay.”
I stared at him in shock. He preferred other men? But... he had asked me to marry him! He had told me he wanted children! “No,” I said finally, putting my arms around him soothingly.
“Darling, you’re just getting cold feet. That doesn’t mean you’re gay.” I squeezed his shoulder. “If you want to wait to make love until after we’re married, that’s perfectly all right...”
“No, Aerin!” His voice grew ragged and his shoulders slumped, in a posture of defeat and shame. “No. I’m sorry. I should have told you a long time ago. It wasn’t right for me to let you think that I...” He sighed. “I really appreciate all you’ve done for me, Aerin. Getting me out of that house... away from them...” He shuddered and gulped.
“Darling, I know that if you would just...”
“Let me finish, Aerin.” he said. “You’re the best friend I have in this world, and I’m so grateful to you. I really am. You’ve done more for me than anyone ever has. I thought that would be enough. But it’s not. Aerin, I do love you... but I can’t marry you. I’m gay; I can’t change that, and I can’t pretend any more.”
I was stunned. All those kisses, all that passion... it was feigned?
“I’ll leave tomorrow,” he whispered. “I know you probably don’t want me to stay here now.”
“No,” I said automatically. “No, of course you can stay here, Nervous.”
“Are you sure?” he asked, and there was no denying the pathetic relief spreading across his face. “Wow, thank you! I mean, now that you know I’m gay, I won’t have to keep pretending that I want to...” He cut himself off and smiled sheepishly. “Well, you know what I mean. Anyway, that will take loads of pressure off and I know we’ll be great roommates!”
I sensed all my dreams and plans going up in smoke.
He “won’t have to keep pretending” that he finds me desirable.
I felt sick.
Damn him, why didn’t he just tell me in the beginning?
“... but I want you to know that I’ll be keeping a lookout for a place of my own, too,” Nervous was saying animatedly. “I can’t keep wearing out my welcome here forever, can I?”
“Oh, of course you can,” I replied, smiling at him and squeezing his hand. “Don’t be silly.”
To Be Continued...