David woke early to his phone ringing incessantly. He turned over in bed with a groan. What fresh hell? His head pounded, fueled by annoyance and last night’s partying. He sat up blearily and grabbed for his phone. David’s heart sped when he saw the messages; 12 missed calls from Juju, his Airline. “Fuck,” he muttered looking at the times for the calls, from 4 am to 7 am (7-10 Airline’s time). Sometimes it ached that his best friend lived so far away but it stung especially hard when something went wrong in either of their lives. The phone rang again and David quickly unlocked the screen to answer. His voice cracked tiredly as he spoke. “Hey Juju, what’s wrong?” He knew that only a 10 on the crisis meter would make him call so much and so early.
“David,” Airline’s voice choked through the other line. “He left—“ he managed through another light sob. David didn’t mention the tears. He knew the boy was trying to keep a brave façade. He let out a short hum to show he was listening. The only way to handle Airline’s emotional moments was to patiently listen, something David was luckily quite good at. That was probably why they stayed on the same wave length, so close emotionally despite so much distance. “I proposed to him and he left,” Airline said in a steadier voice after a long moment of muffled tears.
David felt a pull in his stomach. Love strikes again, he thought bitterly. He hid inside himself specifically to avoid these moments of weakness. He sighed deeply trying to think of what to say. Airline of course knew how David felt about marriage, shit the whole country did. “Hm… that’s a dick move,” David replied angrily. Airline had been with his boyfriend for 9 years, certainly long enough that a proposal shouldn’t be a surprise. “What did he fucking say?” David asked, his voice growing sharp as his chest bubbled with anger he was trying desperately to hide. Getting angry won’t help him even if this just proves you right, he reminded himself.
Airline sniffled a few times through the phone and David heard some rustling, like tissue against the phone speaker. “He just said he had been feeling—“ Airline paused and sighed deeply. “He said he wasn’t feeling like he did before,” he said quickly before another strangled sob broke out. “He said he didn’t love me anymore.”
David felt his heart burning like an angry flame. It sped so incessantly that he couldn’t help himself. “Fuck ‘em!” He spat acidly. “Fuck that fucking asshole!” He swallowed his anger quickly, feeling a bit less like a fire doused in fuel. “You’re the best boyfriend there could ever be,” he assured the boy genuinely and warmly. “You’re the best friend ever too,” he added with a soft edge to his voice. He felt his thoughts speed. Even though David had no problem finding guys and had been in several good relationships, he occasionally found himself thinking about what it would be like if he and Airline lived closer, if they had ever both been single. Not helping. He turned his attention back to his friend. “Well did you at least throw his penis pump out the door after him?” David teased, hoping to break the tension.
Airline laughed on the other end, a watery laugh but a laugh none the less. “You know it!” He exclaimed with his voice crackling. A long pause made David’s heart speed in his chest. He felt a beat behind and usually he knew exactly what was on Airline’s mind. A break up was new territory and David felt a bit unsure how to respond. When Airline spoke again, he spoke so quietly that David wasn’t even sure what he was saying for a moment. “I just thought we would be together forever,” he whispered.
David usually would’ve felt the need to go on a rant about how forever was for fairytales and propaganda for the marriage industry. Instead, his heart clenched in his chest and he felt tears coming to his own eyes. “Well, maybe you weren’t meant to be together forever,” he responded, surprised at the words coming out of his own mouth. He hadn’t felt this heavy for someone else in a long time. He told himself that it was just the memories of his mom crying onto his shoulder after his father left that made his throat swell with the effort not to cry. Deep down he knew it was because Airline deserved better.
David’s words fell on deaf ears and a fresh set of sobs started up. “H-he said that he wasn’t attracted to me anymore,” He cried. What an asshole! How unnecessary! “I just wanted it to be perfect and beautiful. I even had my dress picked out.”
David couldn’t fathom the way that emotions worked. They changed so quickly. Some days he wanted nothing more than to be at his mom’s side and other days she annoyed the piss out of him. His past relationships had always begun in fire and ended with walls separating him from his partner. The only person he never felt that distance from was Airline. He felt a single tear poetically roll down his cheek. How cheesy. “Girl, you will have it! I promise! If I have to rope in your man myself, I will make sure you get your dream wedding,” He soothed. “Besides, you’re so fishy all the boys will want you. Don’t let one asshole’s opinion bring you down!” David tried to sound positive but inside he felt dragged down.
Airline gasped unevenly and swallowed so loudly he could hear it through the phone. “Yeah right, I’m just a short chubby Asian,” he mumbled through his tears. “I wasted all this time. All the good ones are taken,” he insisted, his negativity radiating through the phone. It was role reversal at its finest with David acting as the shiny happy person, or at least as much as he could be.
David felt a flash of irritation and his cheeks flushed. “You are beautiful and an amazingly sweet person,” he repeated trying desperately not to sharpen his voice. You’re not mad at him, just the situation.He swallowed and took a deep breath to calm himself before speaking again. “Not all the good ones are taken,” He began slowly. “What about me?” He asked. Each word came out as though it was its own sentence. Each word held out log enough to make David regret them.
The long silence resumed on the other side of the phone. It lasted so long that David even looked at his phone to make sure they hadn’t gotten disconnected. “You?” was all that the other boy said.
David sighed heavily. He knew that he hadn’t said the right thing. Way to take over someone else’s pain again, he scolded himself. This isn’t about you and your loneliness. David would never admit that he did imagine a white wedding, a full house of friends and family, and a handsome man on his arm. David felt himself struggle for words. He could take it back. He could easily retreat inside himself, ice out his best friend and keep his secret. Instead, he gave in to the impulsive statement. “Yeah…”
David worried that Airline was laughing at him for the statement. He had to admit it was ironic but why wouldn’t he give everything he could for his friend? “But you don’t even want to, or believe. What about your mom?” He stuttered posing all the questions that ran through David’s own mind.
“Well Airline, for you I would make an exception,” He said. He tried to brush it off, speaking airily and dramatically.
“You’re just saying that to make me feel better,” Airline returned quickly. David couldn’t quite read his tone and he wished he could see his friend’s face.
“I would NEVER!” He huffed, keeping up his light attitude. He sat there for a minute fiddling with his piercings with his tongue, like his mouth was a cage he needed to keep closed. There you go again, shutting out the people you love. He felt his eyes welling up with tears again and this time he couldn’t blame it on his mom or Airline’s own sobs. He felt his breath catch in his throat and he let out a gasp meant to be words. “Airline, you know you’re the most important in my life beside my mother. You’ll never lose me,” he promised throwing around the words he hoped would never pass through his lips. “I would marry you.”