Sunday, August 13, 2017

Shadowboxing, Chapter 17: Orion


Over the weeks that followed, Asher swore more, got into moods, sometimes even cried unexpectedly. We had our first arguments during this time, over little things, practical things, places where we just didn’t see eye-to-eye in conversations – usually Asher pushing me on stuff that I just couldn’t see was a problem, no matter how I tried to wrap my head around it.

Afterward he’d apologize over and over, anxiously watching my face for confirmation that he hadn’t broken something between us. Still, I was alarmed, worried that something had gone wrong, that I had gotten something wrong on a fundamental level. The phrase he’s too good for you started floating into my head with disturbing frequency. Had his parents – no matter how sweet they were to me – said something?

But after long enough, I realized – I think we both realized – how much of Asher’s calm and cheerfulness over the past couple of months had actually been forced. He’d been spinning his wheels furiously trying to maintain his composure, focusing on work, his parents, Amy, and, I realized now – the work of our relationship, the work of starting something between two people who, at the end of the day, came from really different places. Looking back, I thought I could see places where I now recognized the intensity of his focus, even his way of caring for me, as a little frantic, strained.

Seeing the arraignment, and having our conversation afterwards – they’d opened the way for something to sweep through him. Stress, anger, fear. It took both of us aback. Something else I remembered from early on in our relationship: I’d gotten angry about something stupid – a client who kept wanting to renegotiate the contract when we were already halfway done with the work, something like that. Even as worked up as I was then, I couldn’t not notice the spasms that had started to overtake Asher’s body: my anger was making him uncomfortable. He noticed me noticing, and made an awkward joke: he was taking notes from me, because sometimes he didn’t even know how to be angry.

I was realizing now that it hadn’t been a joke. Slowly, very slowly, I was realizing that some of the things about him that I’d thought of as deeply characteristic – mainly his ability to take hard things and force a conversation about them – were actually taxing for him, even exhausting. And those conversations seemed to eat at him afterwards, in a way they didn’t for me. Maybe it was a habit I’d had to learn in high school, but I often felt like once something had happened, I could take a breath and then just step away.

There was one particularly tense evening when we were out together and it was clear that Asher was exhausted by a day of bad spasms and really just wanted to go home. I asked him two or three times, but even then he refused to admit it, just sat there looking tense and closed-off. Alone in my apartment afterward, frustrated, thinking things over, I wondered if some of the way that Asher tended to present himself as open, someone who easily spread his emotions around, was really a reflection of how Amy – who was obviously the more outgoing of the two – liked to present herself. In his own ways, Asher was almost as private, secretive as I was.

But we adjusted. Things between us shifted, resettled, shifted again. After enough trial and error, I caught myself thinking that it almost felt like we had started our relationship over again. That something that had shown itself in glimpses between us before, was now beginning to flow steadily. I hadn’t even realized I could want anything else from Asher; but I liked these glints of newness.

I got more used to pushing him to talk, when it was clear he couldn’t get over that barrier himself – the way he had, I knew, done it for me. No matter how stiff and unnatural I felt, his gratitude afterwards was so obvious that it pushed both of us to keep going with it. And he did find a therapist. He didn’t talk about that much, either, but sometimes I thought I could see him trying out new things, new ways of thinking about things.

One night maybe two weeks after he’d first told me that he’d started seeing a therapist, Asher asked if he could tell me something. We were lazing on his living room couch after long work days for both of us. He sat across my lap, leaning against the armrest. Outside, a persistent wind gusted around the corners of the building, driving a fine rain against the windows. “You know,” Asher said, “the scars on my hips?”

“Mm hm…”

He drove straight to the point. After he’d had that surgery, Asher said, he’d been in so much pain that he’d ended up severely depressed. It was supposed to be a straightforward operation, one that would correct growing issues with his posture and make transfers easier for him, but afterward it was so bad that he could barely sleep, couldn’t stand to use his chair for more than a few hours a day. He ended up moving back in with his parents, missing a semester of college, then a year – something he’d mentioned a few times before, just not the reason.

“It was so bad. It was so bad, Roy,” he said, staring down as he slowly stretched out his right thumb and wrist. “And it just felt so pointless. And preventable. You know?”

“Yes. But you c-c-couldn’t have known, when you said yes. But even after all of that… d-d-d… d-did it help?”

Nope.” I swore, and he continued, “The definition of pointless. It was a lot… it took a lot of work to get over feeling betrayed. Even after things got back on track, I got into this loop where I was determined never to feel that bad again, at the same time that I was convinced something was going to happen. Sooner or later. …You see where I’m going with this.”

“Yes. Yes. I’m sorry, Asher.” I pressed my lips against the side of his head, not exactly thinking, more seeing how everything fit together. He didn’t say anything else for a bit, just pressed up against the palm of his contracted hand, watching the way it loosened his fingers to move more freely, as if seeing it for the first time.

Finally I said, more lightly, “We’ve seen some shit.”

“Many flavors,” he agreed, “if not all.” For the first time in a while, he looked up again. “But you know what, I feel pretty good about things lately.”

I smiled, leaned my head to one side. “G-good. Me too.”

“Even if I haven’t always been showing it, lately.” He quirked his mouth, but I shrugged and hugged him.

“We’ll figure it out,” I said, and released him. After another moment I said, “So what do you want to do this winter?” I nudged his back with the arm he was leaning against.

He made a face, glanced back at one of the windows where rain still came pattering in fitful gusts. “Isn’t it winter already? It sounds awful out.”

“Doesn’t c-c-count till it snows.” Again, he made a face. “I know, it sss… sucks for you. Sorry.” He anticipated my apologetic kiss, and turned his head to catch my lips with his. “Hm. Well, either way, I thhhhh… I th… I think we should do something you’ve never done before.”

Me? Why does it have to be me?”

“Okay, both of us.”

He burst out laughing and finally stopped fidgeting with his hands, dropping his left hand back into his lap. “That was so insincere. You just want me to go with you to the gym with you or something.”

“No,” I said stubbornly, “you’ve already done that.”

“Okay, you want me to go with the gym with you and… get in a fistfight with some MMA guy. Who looks like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

Now you’re talking.”

“No! Goddammit, Roy…”

“Ready – ?” I had shifted him so that I clasped his back to my chest.

“Goddammit – yes –” He laughed helplessly, his left hand tightly gripping my wrist, and I twisted so that I more or less fell to the floor in a loose crouch, Asher sheltered inside the curve of my body, briefly taking the shock of the fall with my feet before rolling backwards to rock up and down on my back.

Takedown,” I whispered into his hair. He kept laughing as I gradually rocked to a stop, his legs jerking in and out with his excitement.

“You’re the worst,” he said finally.

“B-but also…”

“But also the best. – Yeah. Let’s do some things this winter. Get drunk. Climb a mountain. Get you in a fight. Go on a road trip. See an opera.”

“Don’t get too crazy now.”

“No, let’s do things.”

“We will. We will.”

*


“He is a softie, isn’t he? Here, have some more.”

“What is this? What are we drinking?”

“It’s supposed to taste like apple pie. Asher, give me your glass.”

“Yes, but what’s in it?”

“I don’t know. Cinnamon. Rum. Apple pie juice.”

“Oh god. Fine, here–” I relinquished my glass, and Amy refilled it with a grandiosely generous pour. “What were you saying again?” Our any-holiday party had been going for hours at this point, and her snug, dimly lit apartment was a few degrees below uncomfortably warm. Couples and trios – work friends, a few college friends – were crammed wherever they could find a spot to sit or lean in the furniture-cluttered living room. The round dining table was piled with food and the somewhat self-conscious assortment of mismatched holiday décor that we requested that every guest contribute to: a wicker reindeer, an electric menorah (mine), a hand turkey scribbled on construction paper, and the winner of that year’s “Most Culturally Confusing” award: a shamrock piñata. A thread of bell-filled jazz occasionally made itself audible above the constant chatter. I felt sleepy, suffused with a sense of goodwill that was so total that on some level I was worried about how chemically induced it might be. But I had to admit that it made a nice change from the anxiety that had grown so frequent in my chest that fall that its absence was confusing. Automatically I put the glass to my lips again once Amy handed it back to me. It did taste like apple pie.

“Roy,” Amy persisted. “He’s a softie.” She bounced her own almost-empty glass against one of her shins. I followed her gaze: across the room, Roy was more or less trapped behind a couch, leaning against the corner of the back wall with his legs crossed. He rubbed his upper lip with one finger as his gaze moved around the room slowly. A beer bottle loosely dangled from the fingers of his other hand. My chest loosened with emotion as I watched him. Without thinking about it, I sighed.

“Look at him,” Amy said, seeming to agree. “He’s so worried. Is he having enough fun that he’s not offending us? Should he be meeting more people? – It’s like he’s gotten out of the swimming pool and is trying to figure out if he should get back in.”

“Be nice,” I said automatically, without any real edge. It was just that on top of his usual difficulties, I knew that parties made Roy nervous because his voice was so low that it didn’t carry all that well.

Amy put a hand on my arm. “I am. I am. I promise. I genuinely think it’s sweet. He’s so sincere. Are you guys gonna get married?”

“Oh my gosh, Amy.” Normally I would have been mortified, but just now I felt absurdly pleased, though I did my best to sound indignant.

“Look at that face!” She exclaimed so loudly that a pair of girls near us turned to look, raising their eyebrows with amusement as I shushed her frantically. “What, did he propose to you already?”

“No, oh my gosh. I protest this injustice, Amy. I don’t bug you about Vikram all the time.”

In fact, I did feel, in the weirdest way, as if I’d been proposed to. That morning, Roy had asked me what I would think if he traded in his pick-up for a van.

“A van?” I said distractedly; I was “managing” my anxiety by triple-checking the grocery list for the party, trying to hold off a disproportionately gloomy sense of impending failure.

“You know,” Roy said, “a… a… a wuhh. A wheelchair van.”

I put down my phone and stared up at him. He was flushing deeply. He went on hastily, “I j-j-just feel like we w-waste a lot of time at bus stops, and a lot of money on cabs. It would be mmm… mm. More efficient to. You know. Ride around together.”

I pushed my hand down on my joystick until my chair bumped up against Roy’s shins. “Oof,” he said quietly. I leaned forward to hug him around his middle.

“It’s too much,” I said, my face pushed into his flannel shirt. “But yes. I’d love it. If you’re sure it would work – you’d be able to fit all your work stuff in it still?” I looked up at him. It was if wind had blown through my mind: it was clear again.

“Yeah,” he said eagerly, “It’s easy to take the seats out, to fit more stuff. It won’t be as easy to jjj… just th-throw things in, but–” He shrugged.

“Worst case scenario, I guess you could get a flatbed trailer?” I said slowly, thinking over how he tended to do things. “You know, for the next time someone wants you to put in a 50-year-old oak.”

“I wish someone would ask m-m-me to put in a 50-year-old oak,” Roy said, passionately.

I laughed. “That might be the most excited I’ve heard you get all week. Even more than about the van.” I tightened my arm around him, pressed my face into him again. “One day you’ll have to climb a tree with me. Like Tarzan and Jane.”

Roy gave a speculative hmmm.

“Anyway,” I said. “Yes. I would… beyond love it. As long as you’re sure.”

“I’m sure,” was all he said.

For me, though, it still felt like a piece of happiness too uncertain to put my weight on yet. Amy was squinting at me assessingly now, with an eager little kittenish smile on her lips. But finally she said, “Fine, keep your secrets, Mr. Klein.”

“There’s even better entertainment afoot,” I said, seeing an opportunity for distraction. I poked her leg. “Look—” Across the room, Vikram was slowly making his way through the crowd toward Roy, holding two beers; when he’d finally made it to the back wall, he offered one to Roy, who gratefully set aside his empty and accepted it. Finally, Vikram sort of applied himself carefully to the wall next to Roy, and they bent their heads toward each other in conversation. Vikram was almost as tall as Roy, cleanly built, with a solemn, rectangular face, dark brown complexion, and very thick black hair and brows; it was hard not to admire how they looked, standing together with rather similar attitudes of studied relaxation.

Amy was knocking the back of her hand against my upper arm in wordless excitement. A moment later, she said, “It’s happening! It’s finally happening!” And then: “What are they talking about?”

“I don’t know, traditionally masculine things?” I was as curious as her, of course, but it was more fun to tease her. I sat back in my chair to watch, taking the moment to again enjoy the warm sense of physical relaxation that had overtaken me. I was fascinated to realize that I could extend my legs with much more voluntary control than usual, and covertly went on stretching them, one at a time, as Amy kept up a running commentary on our menfolk. I was embarrassed, and then pleased, to realize that I associated this unusual ease of movement – with how I felt after having sex with Roy. Now I watched him from across the room with the added glow of desire.

Maybe an hour later, Roy and I had managed to find our ways back to each other, and I took the chance to ask him about his conversation with Vikram. He responded with a surprisingly direct question: “Did Amy ever have a c-c-crush on you?”

“What? Oh my gosh. Sure, but literally back in high school. And she goes through at least one crush, like, a season. Is that what you talked about?”

“No,” he said, looking off a little, “Vikram is way too p-p… polite for that. But I could tell it was… under some things he asked me.”

“Hmmm,” I said, alarmed by how guilty I felt. To distract myself, I pressed Roy, “What else did you talk about?”

He shrugged. “Things.”

“Oh I see,” I said. He shrugged again, and then flashed a much more mischievous smile than usual at me. It shook me back into my state of warm delight, and I laughed and reached out to lace my fingers through his; he was leaning over me, perched on the arm of a sofa.

“Anyway,” Roy said, “I think Vikram huhhh… has much more immediate competition.” I knew what he meant. To both of our delight, Allan had been able to make the party, despite the expected jokes about killing the party simply by virtue of being depressingly old, and for the last half an hour or so, he’d been drawing an increasing number of the party toward him, forming a storyteller’s ring. He was telling a story now that I could only hear in snatches, as his voice rose and fell with warm theatricality and his listeners’ laughter trailed behind. Snuggled directly to his left was Amy, with both her arms loosely wrapped around his upper arm and her head leaning on his shoulder, her belly laugh rising above the others’.

“Isn’t he just in his element,” I said to Roy. He snorted in agreement, smiling.

There was something magical about it all; I leaned forward, grasping Roy’s hand harder, and then planted a kiss on his knuckles.

“Hey,” said a loud voice. Both of us looked around, startled. “Hey.” It was one of Amy’s work friends, a woman with dark curly hair and deep-set eyes. I thought her name was Alisa, Iliza, something like that. “Are you guys together?” Roy and I looked at each other, and then back at her. She continued, persistently loudly, “How does that work?” The two friends she’d been sitting with, a man and another woman, gasped; the woman grabbed her shoulder and shook it lightly. Roy and I exchanged another look.

“I am so sorry,” Iliza’s friend called to us, her eyes wide. “Iliza, you’re drunk.”

“I’m drunk but I still want to know–”

Looking up at Roy, I found, unexpectedly, that I just couldn’t care about it. The night was too far gone. Roy was plainly furious – he had uncurled from his hunched posture in one, almost frighteningly controlled motion, his gaze fixed on Iliza. But I was able to say to him, “Don’t worry about it. Either she’ll shut up and apologize, or Amy will throw her out.”

On cue, I could hear Amy yelling, “Where the hell are my crutches? Oh, forget it. Iliza! Iliza. You’re being a cock.“ I found myself laughing. “Iliza, you apologize to Asher – and Roy – right now. No, you apologize.”

Something else happened, but I wasn’t paying attention; I grabbed Roy’s hand and jerked him down toward me, so he actually took a step down off the couch, surprised; and I kissed him full on the mouth. There was a smattering of applause, some hooting, and Amy still yelling vengefully. I watched as Roy closed his eyes.

“Normally,” I said much later to Allan, a little apologetically, “our parties are pretty tame.”

He gave a dry laugh, his breath puffing out brightly against the black night air. He, Roy, and I had paused together just outside Amy’s place. It was somewhere well south of 2 A.M.; we’d just said good night to Amy and Vikram after a rapid round of clean-up and many hugs from Amy.

“Asher,” Allan said, “I grew up in the ‘70’s.” With deliberation, he put his hands into his pockets, a kind of punctuation.

“Okay, fine,” I said, laughing, “this was also pretty tame. But next time I’ll make sure Roy brings the coke.” I nudged his side, and he made a startled noise.

Allan smiled, the creases below his eyes deepening. “It’s a deal. Roy – I’ll see you next weekend.” Roy tipped two fingers to his forehead. “Asher—”

“Good night, Allan.” Impulsively, I pushed my joystick forward, and leaned to give him a hug.

He rested his hand on my shoulder for a moment after we separated. “Good night. Be well.” I watched his rangy, slightly bow-legged stride as he set off down the block toward his car.

When I looked back, Roy was bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet, his head tipped up to stare at the sky. The moon had long set, and only a few stars were visible against the glare of suburban streetlights. Our cab would arrive in a few minutes.

“He looks like you,” I called to Roy.

He looked at me questioningly.

I nodded up at the winter stars. “Orion. Big shoulders. Always on the move.”

“Oh – hah.”

“Sorry, was that too cheesy?” I rolled up to him, and he put both of his hands down to cup my face, smiling.

“I was miles away. Just didn’t know what you were talking about.” He bent to kiss me, darting out his tongue once.

As he broke, I exhaled. After another moment I said, “We both made it out in one piece, hm? Thanks again for putting up with all the rabble.”

He smiled. “It was… interesting. I like Vik.”

“Vik? Oh, Vikram. Oh, that’s great to hear. Me, too. We’ll have to make Amy bring him to things more.” Privately I thought that Vikram seemed like he would have proposed to Amy six months ago, if he didn’t think it would have scared her off. There was a kind of quiet fervor to the devotion that he looked at her with. I had seen it in even in the careful way that he put his hand on her lower back as they waved good-bye to us tonight. And – the spat with drunk Iliza notwithstanding – he smoothed Amy out; she seemed more centered, less frenetic when he was around.

“You looked h-h-happy tonight,” Roy continued.

“Hm. I felt happy.”

“Good. Good.” His voice registered deeply in my chest.

“I’m glad you could see it. I know it hasn’t been fun lately, not knowing… how I’ll show up, any day.” I reached my hand up to his. I thought about what I’d just sketched out to myself about Amy and Vikram. “I hope you know… no matter how it looks, I’m always happier when you’re there.”

Oh.” It was almost more like an exhalation; I tensed with guilt at how obviously he had needed to hear that. My knees and arm drew in sharply, my hand twisted inward. “Yuhhh… yeah. I was worrying about it, s-sometimes.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t say something sooner.”

He kissed me in answer. “We’ll keep doing this.” And I was amazed at how quickly my body relaxed again, the spasm suddenly lifting its hold.

I could hear our cab coming; the sound always seemed to echo more on cold nights. As it drew nearer, we held hands, and I just looked at him, his serious brows and soft eyes, the gravity of his presence. The way the streetlights sent multiple shadows shafting off from his feet, as if he were the center of a spoked wheel.

Despite the cold, I resented the coming cab. I wanted another moment alone with him; I wanted all of them.


*


Snow was predicted for New Year’s Eve, but the storm got hung up further south for a day, so it wasn’t until the second day of January when Roy and I could go out in the snow.

We woke up early, just about dawn, and got ready more or less in silence, enjoying the hush of the snow densely falling past the panes, the low moan of the wind, our quiet anticipation.

As I finished bundling up in the kitchen, I could still hear Roy rummaging in my bedroom closet. When I heard a decisive clunk, followed by silence, I called, “Did you find it?”

“Yup.” Roy emerged from the bedroom, using one hand to wheel along my folded and little-used manual wheelchair.

“Sweet, thanks.”

“I’ll go load it up.” He disappeared out the kitchen door, letting in a brief gust of cold wind and a spray of snowflakes across the doormat. I sat, listening to the wind, my head for once peacefully empty.

When Roy reappeared, a dusting of snow already on his hair and shoulders, he followed it up with, “And now we’ll load this one up–” and bent to pick me up from my powerchair.

“Hey, hey–” I laughed and threw a mock-punch at his chin. He responded by kissing my cheek as he pulled me close to his chest, one arm behind my back, the other under my knees.

I braced myself as we broke outside. The wind came against us, softly pummeling, the snow brushing across my face more like a sensation than a physical substance. As Roy carried me to the cab of his pick-up, I glanced down at the prints of his boots – there was already a good three, four inches of snow on the ground. He settled me into the passenger seat, and our eyes met as he stepped back to shut the door for me. We smiled: this was, finally, my first time riding in his truck. And who knew how many more times it might happen – he’d kept asking questions about wheelchair van models, since we’d first discussed it the day of the holiday party.

Even on the road, the world was ghostly-quiet; we saw only one other car on the drive over to Crown Hill Park, going in the opposite direction. It was quickly swallowed up into the soft tunnel of snow behind us.

At the park, Roy pulled into a street parking spot at the base of the hill; then I watched, stretching out my contracted hand, a little apprehensive, as he retrieved my tarp-covered manual chair from the pick-up bed, unwrapped it, and popped it open on the sidewalk. Again I braced myself for the cold as he opened the door, lifted me into my chair. As I settled myself in, he retrieved a blanket from the truck and wrapped it around my legs, then left me to buckle my seatbelt over it. We planned to be out for a while.

“Ready?”

“Ready.”

He began pushing me, striking out into the fresh sweep of snow laid across the hill. Soon the snow would be deep enough to hide the slight depression of the paved pathways, but for now, they were just perceptible enough for us to follow, aided by our memory of the routes we’d followed over and over together that fall. Gazing ahead at the expanse of satin smoothness, the rising ghostly shapes of trees with snow blown against their trunks, the sheets and streamers of snow curling on the wind, I was startled when I heard Roy’s deep voice speaking directly into my ear. I glanced back; he had bent low over my handlebars as he pushed.

“So when’s the last time,” he was saying, “you went out when it was really snowing?”

I had to think. “For more than a few minutes? I must have been a kid…” He knew that going out even days after snowfall could be difficult for me; I’d gotten trapped in poorly cleared sidewalks more than once, which was additionally terrifying considering that subzero weather could make my powerchair’s battery life drop unexpectedly.

Roy made a thoughtful noise, and kissed my cheek before withdrawing. It was getting colder; I tucked my left hand under the edge of the blanket, pulled my right arm closer to my chest.

The snowfall was growing finer, more powdery. It blew on and on, until I started to entertain a strange idea that I was watching the same snow appear, disappear, and reappear, over and over, a loop being pulled past us as Roy pushed me up the hill under a pale-grey sky. I drew up my left hand again and reached it back over my shoulder until I could briefly rest my fingertips on top of Roy’s hand.

“It’s all very far away,” I said.

There was a pause before Roy called back over the wind, “What is?”

“I was quoting you. You said that when I was trying to ask you about high school and the boys on the soccer team again.” I turned my head until I could see him, and he nodded in understanding, or confirmation. His breath puffed out from between his parted lips, and his eyes were fixed on me.

 “I’m feeling like it’s all very far away right now,” I continued.

Again, there was a pause before he said, “I agree.” There was a slight smile on his lips.

“When we leave here – when we go back – what if the snow just stayed?”

He was still smiling. “The snow will s-s-stay, but things will come back.”

“And then the snow will go, too.”

“Yup.”

I turned my face forward into the storm again, and shouted, “Stay, snow!” I flung out my arm in a sorcerer’s gesture, thinking of Prospero, though maybe King Lear would have been the better analogy. Then I had to laugh at myself.

We were almost at the columned white belvedere at the peak of the hill; it appeared through the snow in glimpses, a little temple to winter.

“Roy, stop!”

He came to my side, looking alarmed. I was so giddy that even the momentary backsliding of my wheelchair on the slope, before Roy hastily pulled back on the handlebar, only inspired a quick flip in my stomach.

“Everything okay?”

I pulled his other hand to bring him around in front of me. This turned out to be a risky proposition: the wheel opposite his supporting hand on my chair was now rolling back down the sleep slope, sending me pivoting away from him sharply – again my stomach flipped, but I just laughed – until he quickly released his hand from mine and seized my other handlebar, bringing me up safely perpendicular to the slope.

“You’re really having to do all the work here,” I said, a little more seriously.

“But you’re out here b-b-because I wanted to be,” he said.

“That’s very true and reasonable. What I like most about you, Roy, is how reasonable you are.”

“Is that really what you like most about me?” He looked as if he wasn’t sure whether he should be concerned or not.

“No, you’re right, it’s not. What I like the most about you is how I look at you or I think about you and I still can’t understand how I can feel this much love for you. Always.”

He stepped forward; he grasped my shoulders instead of the back of my wheelchair; he kissed me.

When we opened our eyes again, I didn’t ask him, even though part of me still wanted to, how he imagined he could be happy with me for long; I didn’t ask him if he ever maybe wanted me to just not have so many problems, so much to manage; if he ever just wanted someone who was written in the same language. I didn’t say anything because I knew that sometimes, he wondered the same things about me.

We’ll keep doing this.

“We’ll go as far as we can go,” I said.

“As far,” he said.

I shouted into the wind then, “Let’s go!” And I pointed down the slope, back down the wavering tracks we’d made on our way up, the bootprints and the slicing marks of my wheels. The tracks at the bottom of the hill were already softened, filling up with snow again.

Roy grinned in answer and swung me around; he started pushing me down the hill. At first slowly, pulling back on my chair, but then faster and faster, so that momentum was really carrying me, us, his footfalls thudding muffled behind me as he ran to keep up. The snow beat softly against our faces, like little bursts of cold light. All I could say was, “Faster!”



- End -



Thank you so, so much again to all for reading and sharing your warm feedback. Getting to read your comments has been a highlight of each week that I've posted, and I'm unspeakably grateful that the PD community even exists in the frst place.

I am thinking of releasing Shadowboxing as an ebook, possibly bundled with a few dev short stories - please let me know if you'd be interested. And feel free to let me know if there are any other sorts of stories you'd be interested in seeing. I do have lots of partial drafts floating around, but it would be fun to hear your wishlist ideas, too. Cheers! -- Rowan

8 comments:

  1. I loved this story so so much!! Such sweetness between those two. And your illustrations were great. Keep doing what your doing and I would totally buy some short stories from you.

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    1. Thank you thank you, R. I so much appreciate the support.

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  2. Thank you so, so much for writing this story! What a wonderful warm and uplifting final chapter, very glad the two are working together so well. Loved it! Also, I really want snow now :D

    "I wanted another moment alone with him; I wanted all of them."
    Aww, honey...

    Yes to the ebook and short stories!! :) Hm... story suggestions. Since you've already done research into the legal system, what about a devvy version of Suits? (If you haven't seen it, only watch the first season, it gets a little convoluted after that, imo. Though I stopped a few episodes into season 3, maybe it gets better again.). Or crime fiction. Or whatever you like, because I'd honestly read a toaster's manual if it was written by you. And devvy. Which I trust you'll manage.

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    1. I always planned for the story to end with snow, briefly reconsidered because I thought it would be cheesy, and then just went for it. :D I'm so happy you enjoyed it so much, Lovis.

      I laughed so hard at the toaster manual suggestion. One of the two stories I've started working does have a small crime element to it - slightly inspired by your wonderfully dark "Silver" story ...

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  3. Aw, so sweet! Roy buying a wheelchair van, is there any better sign of commitment? I’m sad the story is over, but hopeful that we will see more from you here soon, including illustrations. Yes to the ebook too!

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    1. Practical-minded romance can be the best romance, haha. Thank you so much for the encouragement, DG!

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  4. One of my favourite stories on the blog. Really hope to see more from you. Will definitely buy the ebook. Love,love your illustrations

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    1. Thank you so much, Anon. There are more stories in the works, for sure. It's a bit harder to make time for art lately, but I do have fantasies of making devvy comics, and might just force myself to start with a one-pager...

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