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THE QUESTION GAME
by Wt Prater
You know your sex life is boring when you start counting the tiles in the ceiling, or worse, the pimples on his back. And that, sadly, described mine even before Zach and I broke up. I was about to flip open one of the many books on his night stand and start reading when he finally came, which meant that I could stop acting like I was enjoying myself and get the fuck out of there.
But as he flopped onto the bed and turned over, he pulled me down into his embrace and because I am not a heartless prick, I laid with him while he went on and on about how much this meant to him. Meanwhile, I was playing The Question Game in my head.
“What are you thinking about?” I heard him ask after a couple seconds of silence.
“Well, I ---” I started, but before I could speak more than a few words, he interrupted me, talking about this and that, nothing of which I cared about, until eventually, he talked himself to sleep.
I took the opportunity and left. Normally, I would have written a note but I didn’t figure he cared. Why? Because the only question he asked me, he never let me answer.
This is why I started playing the question game with all my friends. The question game is about give and take. It’s pretty simple: Ask a question, and wait for an answer. There is no rhyme or reason for the game, except for curiosity. It's how I could show that I was interested and cared about my friends. I wanted to know them, and love them. I didn’t know what kind of questions they would ask or where it would lead.
Chapter 1. First Things First, What a Boy Wants
As Jonathan Grant walked through their house, he had the wedding invitation in one hand and his vodka straight up in the other. He admired and simultaneously hated all the pretty things he walked past that he and his partner, Ian, had collected over the past three years. As he walked around the living room, looking at the pictures of celebrations, and the souvenirs they had collected from their various trips, Jonathan found himself getting more upset.
On top of the mantle sat one of the biggest reminder of their differences and the time they had spent, or at this point Jonathan felt wasted together: a silver picture frame. The frame was carved with the words “I love you’ in different languages and it contained a picture of the two of them on vacation in Hawaii for their two-year anniversary. Jonathan always stared at that picture, because it was so beautiful. The way his already brown skin contrasted with Ian’s lily-white complexion so much more even after Ian had been in the sun for almost a week haunted Jonathan.
Other memorabilia surrounded him. Bowling trophies they had won together in their league. Pictures of their families and social circle. Black and white. One of them always stood out, whether they were with his friends or with Ian‘s.
But at this moment, in this emotion, Jonathan could not find himself anywhere in this place. He couldn’t find any happy or good memories that he wanted to keep. How was that possible, after three years?
All his rage and anger had been building up and now, now it was surfacing because of this damn invitation. After three fucking years, why couldn’t he get Ian to commit to him? The question he kept asking himself, how much shit can one relationship take? He had dealt with Ian spending all of their savings on a boat. A boat that Ian had lost interest in after three months, that they then had to sell for half the original cost. He had dealt with Ian cheating on him not once, but twice with different men. Jonathan had even suggested that they try having an open relationship, but Ian had declined.
And then disappeared for three days, saying he was on a “runaway weekend with Deanna”. What Ian didn’t know was Deanna had called a day after Ian left, wondering where he was.
“Has he forgotten his Spa day with me again?” she asked, sounding so heartbroken.
Jonathan had grown to love a lot about Ian. He had even grown to love his in-laws. But Ian was still dodging the bullet. Every time Jonathan brought up the “Marriage” word, Ian jumped into the nearest book or car, whichever was closest and provided the quickest getaway.
Jonathan glanced at the invitation again, and felt his emotions once again go up on the spinning wheel. He was happy for Zach and Ann, and a little confused for them. And he was sad for himself, and angry and hurt about Ian. Of these emotions, he chose to go with the anger once again. He fixed himself another drink, and started to march to the exercise room where Ian was.
He thought, “Even Zach and Ann were getting married in six months, and they weren’t even a “couple”. So why not them? They lived in Washington DC, and it had been legal for over a year, and still nothing. Maybe if I threaten to leave him. No, I don’t want a proposal as an ultimatum.”
Jon watched as Ian exercised on his stationary bike pedaling on and on but getting nowhere. He could relate to that. He stood there comparing Ian’s small but built body to his larger frame, and got angry at yet another difference between them, another reason for them not to be together. How opposite could two people be and stay together? This was becoming a very serious question in his mind. .
He watched through the glass door that separated the exercise room from the dining room, clutching his glass tightly and the invitation to the wedding tighter still. He wanted to storm in there and tell Ian it was over. He was unhappy and tired of waiting. He wanted more than great sex and a fabulous house. He wanted a husband.
But he knew he shouldn’t talk to Ian when he was this emotional, so he swallowed the rest of the drink and headed back to the living room to make another one. Knowing Ian’s routine, he had almost completed his cycling for the day and would be moving on to his weight lifting routine. As Ian dismounted the bike he glanced at Jonathan through the glass, forgot to remove his other foot from the petal, and landed hard upon his ankle.
Jonathan thought he heard a crunching noise even before the scream. He turned around and threw the glass door open and found Ian had somehow twisted his ankle and his foot so much so that he could not move. Running to him, he wanted to help but was afraid to touch him. He knew Ian well enough to know that when he was in pain, he became a drama queen. The slightest scratch or cut became a reason to visit the emergency room. Jonathan both loved and hated that, mostly because it was the only time Jonathan got to see Ian’s softer side, and really feel that he was needed.
Ian was still on the bike, cradling one ankle while his other feet appeared still caught in the protective cuff. Jonathan went to him, and tried to figure out how he could help. Ian had tears running down his cheeks as he tried not to move any more than he had to. As Jonathan looked at the foot trapped in the cuff, he started to move toward Ian’s foot. But as he moved, but Ian screamed.
“Please don’t touch me, Jon. Oh God, please don’t!” Ian partly moaned, and partly screamed, with tears streaming down his face.
“What can I do?” Jon asked, still shocked by the sight and unsure of how to help.
“I don’t know. Call Juan, he’s a nurse. He’ll know. Please hurry.” With tears still streaming down his face, Ian tried to move into a more comfortable position and screamed more. Jon ran to the phone in the kitchen and called Juan.