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Don't Fall in Love With Me:

by danny's world 2 months ago in Young Adult
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from my novel, Moonchildren

Oki Crow has always wanted to live off the grid. It’s a thought that came to him in his teens, after learning there was such a thing, he became obsessed with the idea. After college, perhaps, he can begin building his own home out of papercrete, on Raspberry Island, with his dogs and a boat. This would be the dream for him, and he’s already begun making it a reality. It’s easy enough to make papercrete, and it’s a great option if you’re on a budget. Oki has been saving up; he’s determined once he gets his mind set on something, and he hates being wasteful. Unfortunately, this opinion isn’t shared by much of the human race, and that’s why the planet is becoming uninhabitable. Oki doesn’t have a lot of goals in life. He doesn’t care to finish school, or to get a job, or to make friends. Living off the grid is his only desire, pretty much, and most people find this sad.

Work is worse than usual lately. Oki can’t tell if people are getting more irritating, or if he’s just getting bitchier.

“Good evening,” he says to the people at the counter, even though it’s anything but. Oki hates the mentality of the customer is always right. Because they aren’t, but everyone has to act like they are. Even if the customer is a complete asshole, Oki was always told to put up with it, and this doesn’t sit right with him. “What can I get for you?”

Contrary to popular belief, Oki wasn’t always this grumpy. There was a time, in childhood and adolescence, when he was carefree and cheerful, but this changed over the years. He suspects it’s because of prejudice, harassment; after a while, he just grew tired of this treatment. Some people are kind and welcoming. Maybe, at some point in his life, he would have wanted to meet these people.

He’s working late tonight. It’d be alright if he made more money, but he sort of feels he’s working a dead-end job which will bring him nowhere. It’s busy, at least, and so the night will pass quickly. This is the only good thing about working with customers. He’s given his notice, though, and applied for a new job as a night security officer at the museum. To him, this would be much more enjoyable.

“Come sit down,” his father had said, years ago, when they were still on speaking terms. “There’s something you should know.” It was peculiar of him to bring this up out of nowhere, the moment Oki got home from school, but he did this sometimes. He was about fourteen years old, and still in the closet, but that’s a different story. On that day, he’d sat down beside his father on the living room couch, and stared at him, waiting to hear what was so important that it couldn’t wait.

When he was born, his mother was fifteen years old, and dropped out of high school to look after him. This is something she’d bring up in earlier days when she felt he was being ungrateful. But it isn’t something he asked her to do, and so he doesn’t feel bad about it.

His mother, whose name is Ulva, was always tired. “Well,” his father had said, sitting up straight, his hands on his thighs; he looked almost like a puppet, posing. “You know how your mother was a teen mom. She was fifteen when she had you.”

Everyone knew this. Well, everyone in the family, that is. But Oki doesn’t like being reminded. “Yep.”

The house was noisy. It always was when he lived there. He hasn’t missed it.

“Well, you see, your father was a junior at her high school, and he wasn’t me. I met your mother when you were nine months, and we always just pretended you were my son.” He looked bothered by this, as if it were a huge worry that Oki would be upset. He didn’t care, to be honest. He should have been mind-blown by this, or upset, or shocked, or something along those lines. But he’s not an idiot. For some reason (he still isn’t really sure why), he wasn’t all that taken aback by the news. It made sense, in a weird way. His father had always treated him differently than the others – he was subtle about it, but Oki could still tell. “Okay,” he said, and stood up. “Can I go now?”

His stepfather looked bewildered. He’d expected him to react badly, and this was a fair expectation, as he does usually react this way. He blinked, and then stood, too, stooping to pick a toy off the living room floor. “Oh. Yeah. Go.” He hated all the noise, all the pointless babble. After speaking with his father, he took himself to his small bedroom at the end of the hallway and sat down to read a book.

By Bamby Diagne on Unsplash

“Here you are.” The restaurant is crowded and and noisy, but it’s Saturday night, so what would one expect. Oki hands out his table’s drinks, swiftly, irritated by the bright light above their heads. “Anything else?” It’s actually very easy to pretend to be polite. Work is the only place he ever does it, and it’s not out of respect for the job.

“We’re waiting to be helped,” says the woman at the corner nearest him. She’s elderly and has a cane beside her on the counter. He enters the orders in the screen, and saunters away.

He’s been assigned a table at the back of the restaurant. It seats Rome, and who Oki assumes is his family, though none of them look anything alike. Normally, he’d hate to see Rome outside of school. Today, he’s just happy to see a familiar face. Rome has two dads, he notices, and a teenage sibling or friend he can’t tell the gender of. All look at him, friendly and smiling, but Oki rarely smiles back. “Hey, Four-Eyes.” Rome grins, tapping his fingers on the table. “Fancy seeing you here.”

He has a look of smugness on his face. Oki hates it, but has to admit the man is hot. "I work here."

One of Rome’s fathers looks at him, curious, evidently not knowing they’re familiar with each other. A little too familiar, if you ask Oki. He hates working, but he needs the money. “What do you guys want?” He isn’t as irritable today as usual. Maybe it’s the numbness from Nuka’s passing. Maybe that makes it difficult to feel much of anything else. She’d have hated this, but that doesn’t matter now. After taking drink orders, Oki shuffles back to the kitchen, trying to avoid being called on by anyone else. He considered calling in sick today. Staying in would have been a million times better than this. Most people get lonely, staying home all by themselves for long periods of time. Oki can’t relate. He could sit at home for weeks and still be content. But he needs to get out, needs to take his mind off things, or just pretend there’s nothing to take his mind off of. This is what he’d normally do.

At break, he steps outside for a cigarette and a drink of water. He stole these cigarettes, from the pocket of a man at a bus stop, who left his jacket unattended for a moment too long. He spots Rome, on his phone, and doesn’t stand near him. Though, he doesn’t go out of his way to avoid him, either. He doesn’t have to. Rome approaches, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his workout pants, dragging his sneakers on the ground of the parking lot. Oki isn’t in the mood, but he stays: because hey, maybe he’s a bit curious to know what Rome has to say. “You know,” says the athlete, the hood of his sweater pulled over a baseball cap. “I used to hate you.”

Oki doesn’t care. He takes a drag from his cigarette, blows the smoke into Rome’s face. “I still hate you.” He wonders why Rome is here, anyway, outside speaking to him. Surely he has better things to do. Is he obsessed with Oki or something? It’s warm, and the shift is half over. Work always feels too long.

“Do you?” Rome steps closer, not at all bothered by the smoke. “I don’t think you do. I think you pretend to, but really there’s something you want from me.”

He stands very close. Oki can see a large scar next to his mouth, but doesn’t care what it's from. He takes a step back. “Yeah, I want you to leave me alone; that’s what I want from you.” He doesn’t know why he hates Rome so much. The guy hasn’t done anything to him, but he’s a hateful person and can’t really explain why. Even his relationship with his best friend started with hate. “Can you leave? I have to get back to work soon.”

Rome smiles. “Come on.” He places an arm on the wall of the restaurant, very close to Oki. “I know you’re attracted to me. I’m not an idiot; I can tell by the way you’re looking at me.” This is stupid. Oki is looking at him like he looks at anyone. “You could walk away, if you wanted to,” Rome jeers, waving his hand through the open space. “But you haven’t, which means obviously you don’t hate me that much.” It’s a weird observation, but Rome has nice hands. They’re slender, dark, planted flat against the wall.

He’s aggravating, and smug, and Oki can’t stand it. But maybe he has a point. Fucking him isn’t terrible, and he’d do it again, but everyone knows sex can mean nothing. “What do you want from me, exactly?” He tries to sound stern, but it doesn’t quite turn out this way. “You’re always bugging me-”

“Shut up.” Rome leers, his face far too close. Oki could run away, but he doesn’t, and he’s not sure why. It’s certainly unexpected when Rome kisses him, because it comes out of nowhere, and he’s so sure of himself. Goddamn, Rome is so arrogant. Oki can’t even blame his hatred on this. He’s always been into cocky guys.

He shoves the other boy away. “What the fuck!”

“Please.” Rome stares at him, still much too close than he should be, and smelling of body spray. “Think about what just happened, and be honest. Did you hate it?”

Oki wants to say yes. He wants to walk back inside, go back to hating Rome the way he always has. But something’s different. Rome licks his lips, both hands on the wall on either side of Oki. This feels predatory, and poignant. Oki loves feeling like the prey. “No.” He has to admit it, finally, although it’s so strange. Why wouldn’t he hate it? Why is he still out here, when he should be inside waiting tables and getting shitty tips?

“Yeah, I didn’t think you would.” Rome touches Oki’s cheek; his hand is cold. “You need to stop being so goddamn uptight all the time. Live a little.” He breathes in Oki’s face, their mouths nearly touching. And then, Rome walks away, not looking back, and Oki shivers.

Young Adult

About the author

danny's world

neurodivergent, trans writer and parent. canadian. lover of nature, animals, mythology, travel, and knowledge. doing my best to feel comfortable inside this flesh vessel i call home.

i enjoy writing gay shit and torturing my protagonists.

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