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Jason Rimbaud

Way Beyond Empty

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The house was dark and upon first glance he did not think Scott was home. But upon closer inspection he could see the outline of the blond sitting out on the balcony staring up into the night sky. He didn’t think he could cry anymore but the sight of his boyfriend in the moonlight caused the tears to once again cascade down his cheeks.

He wiped the tears away with the back of his hand and went to the refrigerator to grab the bottle of Vodka from the icebox. He filled up a glass and walked outside. He leaned against the rail and lifted the glass to his lips and drank deeply.

“That isn’t going to help you know.”

He spun around and faced his boyfriend, anger flashing in his blue eyes. “Fuck you.”

“It’s your stomach,” Scott said with a shrug of his shoulders. He leaned back further into his chair, thankful the darkness hid the pain in his eyes.

Justin threw the glass out over the balcony. “What did I do wrong?”

“Nothing.”

Justin threw his hands in the air. “Is there someone else?”

“No,” Scott answered immediately. “There could never be anyone else but you.”

“Then why,” Justin asked as he sunk to his knees in front of Scott. “Don’t you love me?”

Scott tucked his long hair behind his ears and caressed Justin’s cheek. “Of course I love you.”

“Then why did you say no?”

Scott sighed. “It’s hard to explain.”

“Tell me, please,” Justin begged.

Scott looked up as he searched for the right words but he knew there was nothing he could say that would make Justin understand why he could not accept his proposal.

A part of him, a very big part, wanted to marry Justin, someday. But he didn’t want it to happen like this, not without something to offer in return.

“Well, I don’t really believe in marriage.”

“What,” Justin asked, clearly confused. “What do you mean?”

“Even if I was straight and you were a girl, I wouldn’t marry you,” Scott said in a quiet voice. Though by the look on his boyfriends face he realized he shouldn’t have blurted out that way.

Justin’s face darkened and his temper boiled to the surface.

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean?” Justin asked, scooting back a few feet.

“I just don’t see the point of going through a ceremony that wouldn’t even be legal. I love you; you love me, why can’t we just leave it at that?”

Justin stood up. “Because it’s about commitment, about standing up in front of our friends and family, acknowledging our love for one another.”

“Have you ever doubted my love,” Scott asked as he slumped further into his chair.

“Not until tonight,” Justin admitted as he walked back to the railing.

“How can you say that,” Scott demanded as he stood up.

“In front of everyone I asked you to marry me, and you said no. How the fuck did you think I was going to feel?”

“Just because I don’t want to marry you doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”

“I know, it just means you don’t want any strings. You love me on your terms but not on mine.”

“That’s bullshit and you know it.”

“Is it?” Justin asked as he clenched his fists. “After everything we’ve been through together, all the bullshit with your drug problems, Michael, don’t you think, you owe me…this little thing?”

“Owe you,” Scott shouted. “That’s the problem, I feel like I owe you everything.”

“What?”

“All this,” Scott said as he waved his arms. “This isn’t my house, it’s your house. The car I drive, even the fucking clothes I wear aren’t mine. How can I marry you when I have nothing to offer?”

Justin rolled his eyes. “Why does everything come down to this tired argument? How many times have I told whatever I have is yours?”

“That’s not me,” Scott shouted. “I can’t keep living on your good graces. It drives me crazy having you buy me stuff. I can’t even buy a pair of shoes without getting money from you. I can’t stand it.”

“Really, you didn’t have any trouble spending my money for your fucking rehab.”

“That’s beneath you,” Scott stated in a quiet voice. He ignored the tears that started to fall down his cheeks as he turned away and walked into the house.

Justin stormed in the house after him and grabbed his arm. Scott spun around and pushed Justin down on the couch, his left arm raised and his fist clenched. Anger flashed in his eyes and Justin realized he might have gone too far. He closed his eyes and waited for the blow to drop.

“Fuck,” Scott yelled as he punched the pillow next to Justin’s head. “I didn’t want this to happen again. I fucking swore I’d never hurt someone I love again.”

Justin stared up at him, his eyes wide and filled with fear. But when Scott collapsed next to him he breathed easy. He reached out to touch his boyfriend but pulled back when Scott said, “Don’t.”

Scott stood up and walked towards the front door. He paused when Justin called out, “Where are you going?”

“I don’t know, but if I stay I’ll do something that both of us can never forgive,” Scott stated as he opened the door.

“Are you leaving me?” Justin demanded as he clutched his stomach.

Scott called out over his shoulder, “Never you, Justin. I’m leaving me.”

The door shut behind Scott and Justin fell back on the couch and curled up into a ball. He cried until the tears stopped falling. After a while, he went back to the kitchen and grabbed the bottle of Vodka.

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A heroic job by Jason, laying out these classic issues in this sparse vignette. Both of these lovers--for they still are in love--are so overwhelmed each by his own convictions that each can no longer see, and know, the other.

James

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It's great writing, powerful stuff. Not light entertainment, by any stretch of the imagination, but great writing nevertheless. These two tragic characters, worthy of Shakespeare, are destroying what they care for most, and cannot see their way to breaking the cycle. I wanted to bang their heads together.

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A heroic job by Jason, laying out these classic issues in this sparse vignette. Both of these lovers--for they still are in love--are so overwhelmed each by his own convictions that each can no longer see, and know, the other.

James

Well said. I wanted to say something about this but my feeble mind couldn't come up with something appropriate.

Mr. Mirkin saves the day.

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I love the title, but ehhhhh.... I'm with the Dude. Too negative to me. I would find a more positive spin for the ending.

But I'm always a "glass half full" kinda guy (or at least, I pretend to be). There's a ghost of a good story in there -- this could be a good novel. Perhaps you start with this, and then Justin thinks back on how it all began... and we do the whole tale in flashback. Work up to the present, maybe Scott has some terrible accident or an overdose or something, and they reconcile in a hospital. OK, it's soap-opery, but it could work. Just a thought.

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The emotions between these two characters comes off as very real, and that sells the piece. I would sure like to know the story that led them to this point, but we get is enough here to understand that the relationship has become volatile. The whole issue of marriage has become such a flash point in their lives, and I do see tragedy ahead. Well done, but terribly sad.

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There is no requirement to be cheery and uplifting and the vodka belongs in the freezer.

It's a good piece and I am a big fan of crafted, 2 to 8 pagers, but it does cry out for a sense of how it arrived at this point. This should be a seed for 20k words.

Bravo and keep writing.

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