Be Kind, Rewind by Dermot O’Sullivan

I stare at the scuffed lino of the corridor, listening to the fading rustle of his jacket as he makes his way downstairs. When he pulls the main door open an icy draught gropes into the building and snatches the last trace of his warmth from my chest. Lost and alone once more, I turn to go inside. But suddenly I freeze, alert. His footsteps I realise are not diminishing but growing louder and louder now, and I look around and in rewind I see him reversing back up the corridor towards me and in an instant he is in my arms again, and I am hugging him again at the door of my apartment, deeply and warmly, with all the strength of my frail arms, trying to tell him that I really like him, begging him to understand that it would kill me if this were the last time. But his face is far far away, blank and constricted by the same decisive stiffness that I feel in his chest. He is impatient to be gone. We break apart and back first, with the wary, stilted gait of two people who are afraid of bumping into each other, we enter the kitchen and he slips off his jacket and drops it on a chair, and then we reverse up the narrow staircase to my bedroom and begin to strip in silence. I watch as he unties his shoelaces and then removes his shoes and socks. He pulls off his jeans, his t-shirt and finally his boxers at the same instant as I drag mine down to my ankles. We flop down on the bed with a bounce and I flinch when I caress his bare chest because when I look into his eyes they seem distant and colder now, like they do not know me anymore. We lie motionless side by side but not touching as our breathing grows heavier and deeper. Our gulped pants are coming thick and fast now and we are wiping up with scrunched wads of toilet paper. I drag him to me and hold him and press my cock into the tufted pucker of his ass and we both come instantly and then I start fucking him, the rhythmic slaps of my thighs against his butt cheeks ringing in our ears. When I pull out he whispers urgently, “Fuck me now!” and so I begin to suck his cock and massage his asshole and kiss him deeply, ravenously, on the mouth, on the nose, on the neck as we slowly, garment by garment, dress ourselves in the bed and then leap off it and wedge our shoes on without bothering with the laces and rush downstairs through the kitchen where he grabs his jacket from the chair and then out onto the street. And we are practically running through the midnight streets now, hands gripped together, streaking past wobbling drunks and rubbish blowing in the freezing winds, laughing, telling silly jokes, smiling when we catch each other’s eyes, impatience and desire burning a hole in us, though not enough to stop us pausing on the bridge above the glittering black back of the waters for a deep and fierce, teeth-clashing kiss. We blaze through the final streets, burst into the nightclub and race straight to the dance floor where we hold each other and kiss. And when our two famished mouths meet and lock, and our four hands clutch and begin to sing, and when we bury ourselves in each other and the loudness all around us dwindles to a speck, in this moment I know that this is all I’ve ever wanted, not happiness, but just this. This. And now he is leading me with a nervous, pleading hand down the stairs towards the smoking area, barging through knots of dancers, twisting his head around with each step as if he is terrified that I may suddenly disappear. When we reach the far end of the smoking terrace we halt and he asks me with a gentle quaver in his voice, “Do you want to dance?” and then we lean in for our very first kiss. His huge grey eyes loom like two moons before me, his tobacco-curdled breath hits my face, and then softly our chapped lips collide. My heart strikes once, a solid punch behind my ribs, and then falters, and for an instant the whole world is silent and still. As we pull apart the roar of revelry plunges back into my ears, and now we are chatting for dear life. My tongue pushes out word after meaningless word as if a steady stream of noise is my only possible hope. I do not know what I am talking about and all I am thinking is that I do not understand why he didn’t just tell me to leave him alone when I came over to him he is so beautiful. And he keeps relighting his cigarette even though it has never once gone out, and he looks down at the ground and then into my eyes and smiles, and then up at the sky, and my bones and sinews and every inch of my flesh is yearning to clasp him to me he is so beautiful, so cute, so tender, so kind. And I’m so lucky to be here, right here, and for once in my life I know how lucky I am. Eventually I work up the courage to ask him his name, then how his night is going, and finally I manage to wrench from my mouth the word “Hey!” and walk away from him, retreating in rewind across the smoking area back to the entrance of the bar with my heart pounding like a sweet illness in my chest. And I am by the door now watching through the crowd a lone boy lost in thought dragging from a new-lit cigarette. I backstep through the doorway, the murky heave of the dance floor rumbling behind me, a cold lick of winter creeping down my chest, and a blast of joy swells inside me as my eyes fall like hammers on a gorgeous young man, one of those brutal incarnations of my most cherished dreams. And I watch, the stench of success already filling the air, though I cannot sense this yet, as he raises a blackened match before his lips and with one sharp breath sets it to flame.

Dermot O’Sullivan is from Dublin, Ireland. He studied English Literature in Trinity College, Dublin. His work has been published in journals including Causeway/Cabhsair and Fence. He currently lives in Brazil.

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