Short Fiction: Damaged

Damaged 2.0 Cover.pngSo I’m posting something quite close to my heart today.

I realised that I haven’t posted any of my writing in a while so I thought I’d post something new tonight.  As I was scrolling through my endless amount of documents in my writing folder I came across something that I haven’t touched in a while.

A few years ago, I started writing a story called ‘Damaged’.  I never really got more than a few chapters into it, but the reception I got for it when I posted it on Wattpad was crazy.  To date it’s the most popular thing I’ve ever written, and that’s something I’m extremely proud of because I feel so strongly about this concept it’s focused around.

I’m trying not to say a great deal about what happens in the story because it’s something that I’m hoping to work on in the future and I wouldn’t want to spoil everything.

One of the things I most grateful about from having studied creative writing for 3 years is that I now have a better understanding of what formats works best for different ideas.  What I mean by that is that a story might be told better on screen rather than on the page.

The reason that I mention this is because I realised with ‘Damaged’ that the reason that I never got more than a few chapters into it is because a novel isn’t the best format for this concept.  I’m currently looking at adapting the idea into a stage play, a medium of writing that I’m apparently quite skilled in according to my marks from university.  The play would revolve around the scene that I’m going to post below and hopefully will tell the story in a unique and moving way.

Without saying any more, here is my short story (because I feel it works as a standalone piece) ‘Damaged’.

I should probably point out that as with most pieces of writing that I post here this has not been majorly edited so apologies if it’s not great in parts.

*

Jared fought the temptation to open his eyes.

Night had fallen many hours ago, but sleep had yet to arrive, and the whole prospect was beginning to lose its purpose.  I can’t rest without him by my side, he thought sadly, running one hand along the empty space to his left.  The familiar indentations had begun to smooth out, as if the man had never even existed.  It had only been two weeks.

Rolling onto his side, he tried to picture the last time he’d woken to the peaceful face of his lover.  The man was no younger than himself, but his features appeared far less aged than those Jared caught in his own reflection.  The lines around his eyes were slightly less defined and he’d yet to sprout even the tiniest of grey hairs, unlike his companion whose youthful complexion had already begun to fade at twenty-three.  Five years on and things had only gotten worse.  There was no denying his resentment, but he still couldn’t resist the man’s clear beauty.  At times like this, it was the innocence in those looks that he missed the most.

He opened his eyes, and looked out onto nothing.

The night sky was clear and through the thin veil of the curtains the full moon was obvious in the sky.  Its glimmer worked itself into the room, casting a faint light across the otherwise black landscape.

Jared shifted uncomfortably against the heat and readjusted his position on the bed.  When he slipped over to his lover’s side, the tired groans and curses that would have been met played through his head.  They quickly fell beneath the crash of the sea outside, but Jared couldn’t shake the unearthly stillness that persisted without his boyfriend’s presence.  Breathing out a sigh, he spoke the man’s name.

“Diego.”  His voice hitched in his throat, and he found himself with the need to wipe away a stray tear.

Unable to resist lying in solitude any further, Jared dragged his legs over the side of the bed and pulled himself up.  His muscles ached from the new training regime his brother had suggested, but whether on or off his feet, there was still immense discomfort to be felt.  He hobbled over to the bedroom door and caught his face in the mirror.  Up close, his blond stubble was obvious, not that it bothered him.  It suits you, Diego had once said at the look of hesitation in his lover’s eyes.  Jared ran a hand across his cheek.  The dim light of the room was not generous to his looks, and the bags below his eyes seemed fiercely dark.

“When we can sleep together,” he mused, eyes glancing over sorrowfully at the reflection of the empty bed, “then I’ll be able to rest.”

Summer may have passed but the nights were still plenty warm.  Jared had but a pair of boxers to keep him clothed and was thankful he didn’t need more.  He’d grown accustomed to sleeping naked in Diego’s arms that even wearing underwear seemed alien to him.

Abandoning his room, he switched on the hallway light and headed for the bathroom, quickly becoming distracted along the way.  The door to the spare room was slightly ajar and he could see the familiar outline of a man convulsing on the bed, overheated – afraid.  He knocked cautiously on the door, uncertain of whether he was welcome inside.  No part of him had expected a response, and after several seconds of waiting he ventured in without invitation, tentative footsteps silent on the carpeted floor.

The room wasn’t much smaller than his own, but Jared always felt a sense of claustrophobia when he stayed there for too long.  Bookcases filled with many of Diego’s belongings lined the walls, leaving a slither of leg room to manoeuvre around where the bed was concerned.  A small TV left on standby sat on the dresser below the window, the remote lying battered on the other side of the room, batteries discarded outside of the casing.  One of Jared’s favourite books, a leather-bound collection of contemporary love poems, was half open on the bedside table.  He took a peek at the title – Damaged.  He knew it well.

“Are you asleep?” he asked hesitantly, resting one hand atop his partner’s bare arm.  The man pulled back instantly and turned away, leaving Jared’s hand lingering for a moment in mid-air.

“Am I ever?” he replied with a grumble.

The windows were completely blacked out, the only light entering the room being that of the hallway lamp.  It was clear enough to see the contours of Diego’s muscles on his arms and back, but they meant nothing to Jared without the sparkle of his boyfriend’s eyes.  That was now gone, replaced by a frosty, grey stare.  He wanted to run his fingers along the man’s tanned skin and play them through his hair, though no such desires came to fruition.  Diego would only recoil even more.

“Y’know I can’t sleep either, I keep worrying about you in here.  I miss lying in your arms, hearing you breathe beside my ear-“

Jared broke off.  The thought of what he-what they’d lost, touched a nerve, and he himself looked away.  The warmth of another’s hand on his own brought his gaze back.

“I miss it too; I can’t stand being away from you so much.”  He paused, lips daring to crack a smile but failing at the last second.  “I didn’t ask for this to happen, J, but I can’t help what it’s done to me.”

Jared felt the comfort of Diego’s hand move away from his own, watching as it slowly moved up towards his face.  The man’s fingers ghosted across his jaw, the tips never fully making contact with his bristly skin.  He could see the panic dilating his lover’s pupils and knew he should go back, remove the temptation that was upsetting his boyfriend more than usual, but he was selfish.  He closed his eyes and leant into the touch, only to catch the sound of Diego squealing in fear at Jared’s upfront desire.

“Sorry,” he mumbled with an unapologetic tone, attempting to reach out to his boyfriend and failing miserably.  He perched on the side of the bed and looked over his shoulder.  Diego was shuddering, trying not to meet his gaze.  Why don’t I ever think, he asked himself?

“Thi-is is why I-I can’t be with you in bed, J, I-I’m not ready to be that c-close again.”

“I know I know I know.”  Jared’s head fell into his hands.  “I know there’s nothing either of us can do to change this situation, to make it any better, but that doesn’t mean I can’t want it to.  You’re the love of my life, Diego; I wouldn’t be here without you.”

He felt close to tears and forced himself to get up, walk away.  His figure paused in the open doorway, blocking out the light so that his boyfriend’s figure was just a mass of shadows in the darkness.

“You should go back to bed; we’re both on edge right now.   Torturing ourselves isn’t going to help either of us.”

Neither of them wished to accept that it was the right decision.

“G’night.”

As he moved out into the hallway, Jared noticed Diego’s lips twitch, almost into a smile, before the door was between them once again.  He fell to his knees.

Fury coursed through his veins.  He knew Diego was just as angry.  The TV controller thrown across the room, the shards of glass he’d noticed swept under the bed – all in a fit of rage.  There was no denying his right to be, it made Jared sick just imagining what had happened – how?  The details had been vague, there’d barely been a word spoken on the situation since it had happened, only that he couldn’t handle the physical contact his lover longed to provide.  Jared glanced up at the hallway light and begged it to switch itself off.  His energy was completely sapped.

Slouching back, he rested his ear against the door.  The distant sound of sobbing was clear on the other side

“I love you,” he whispered.  He pressed his lips to the wood in a kiss then closed his eyes After a few minutes Jared finally drifted to sleep.

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