Tell Them Who You Really Want

My current main project is a novella tentatively titled “Bloom”. It’s about a straight man, Ben, who falls in love with his gay best friend, David. This is a short excerpt from the novella. It occurs in the last third of the novella, when Ben has begun to “come out” about his relationship with David. The fact their relationship has evolved into a romantic (and sexual) one is still not common knowledge to many people in their lives.

There’s some sexual content in this, and there might be typos and errors.


At least it never bores me. Everyone else, including the graduate students (who I spoil rotten) whinge and moan about having to teach it. What was it she said last week?

“Freshman creative writing makes me want to kill myself.”

But I love it. More accurately: I love the students. I love watching the students bounce and slouch and lumber and pirouette into the classroom, burdened with staggeringly heavy, overpacked backpacks, still smelling vaguely of the vegetable stew the dining halls served a few days ago because freshmen and showering are not natural allies. These are not earthly creatures. These are creatures underaware of proper hygiene, scruffy, blinking sleepily at one o’clock in the afternoon. Creatures who write three pages of unbroken prose about cabbage just to see if they can piss me off. And I annoy them right back by putting smiley faces next to my critiques.

All of these run-ons are not appropriate for this story. They add nothing to it. 🙂

Ah, well. They have to learn somewhere. I too was a grubby college freshman. And before my American Lit professor introduced me to Jack Spicer, I was thinking maybe I’d be some kind of piping designer. I was dopey, dull, and doomed to a life without poetry.

How’d that poem go?

People who don’t like the smell of — vomit . . . ?

Now, no matter. They’re staring at me with those shiny eyes of expectation. The morning sunlight pours through the windows, the naked vines growing along the edges outside. Soon, very soon, the vines will start to bud, and leaves unfurl, and that entire wall will blush green.

David actually blushed this morning, as I whispered in his ear and pulled at his bathrobe. Blushed like some coy virgin from a poem. Gather ye cocks while ye may hot and panting and naked on the kitchen floor as we took each other in our mouths. Sucking and moaning and sighing: a neverending oval of pleasure.

Of course Chase has to be here, and basically ask why does this stuff even matter because I am so amazing already. The grade he earned on his flash fiction piece suggests otherwise, but who am I to trounce on the dreams of an upper middle class white dude who has had the world continually handed to him on a platter.

Chloe says she likes the voice in the last short story we read and Nyah looks thoughtful and tugs at her braid. Dylan (always Dylan) talks. He says something about O’Connor’s voice which really isn’t new, but he’s trying by gum, and he’s got conviction. That’s half the battle, really. And I’m not even sure why I’m here except to listen and be amused by it all.

Ah, yes. Maybe eventually I teach.

“Yes, well, thank you for that spirited discussion on voice, people. My student-shaped people. Anyways. I think my surest advice that I can give you, as a writer, about voice, would be this: simplify, simplify. My boyfriend says that all the time and it’s annoying as hell, but he’s not wrong.”

Why are they all so quiet all of a sudden? Why does Chase look like he’s swallowed the pronged end of a fork? And Nyah looks like she’s going to yank her braid right off her head. Why . . .

. . . oh shit.

Did I just say . . . my boyfriend?

Oh shit.

Chloe raises her hand.

“Mr. Siestra?”

“Yes?”

“You have a boyfriend?”

Oh god. As soon as it’s known here, in this classroom, it’s going to end up spinning through the campus rumor mill, and then everyone will know.

But. I can’t run away from this. So.

“Yes, Chloe, I do. Have a boyfriend.”

“I thought you were married,” Roma blurts.

“I was.”

Sweat is prickly all over and I am not going to start shaking. I’m not.

“What’s your boyfriend like?” Chloe asks.

Uhm. None of your fucking business, actually.

“I think you are trying to distract me from class and the homework I should be collecting.”

A few unhappy groans.

Good job me. I got control of that situation.

As I take their homework and have them start their free writing activity for the day, the girls seem unnaturally soft and giddy. They look at me — fawn — at me with some kind of odd fondness. Girls who think they want to fuck me do not have that kind of look. This is almost sisterly.

And the boys, not a one, not even Dylan, will meet my eye.

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