Farwell, Nebraska was your typical “blink and you miss it” type of town. Located in the precise middle of nowhere, there were only two reasons why anyone would have the misfortune to find themselves within it’s limits: they were lost, or apart of it’s whopping 382 population.
With nothing more than a corner-shop grocer and a post office, there wasn’t exactly any immediate allure to the town. In fact, the only residents were those who had grown up there, for when it came to Farwell, you either stayed your entire life, or left and never came back. There was no inbetween.
For Armitage Hux, staying had never been an option.
With every passing day exhausted in Farwell, an invisible hand tightened it’s grip around his throat. The town was suffocating and all depleting, threatening to consume him altogether; if it wasn’t for Ben, it just might have.
His best friend since childhood, Ben was the singular silver lining to Farwell; an explosion of color in his muted brown world. Too many past days had been spent alone with Ben, hiding away from the oppressive force of his father. In his presence, Hux felt soft, safe, and warm; things entirely unlike anything he had ever experienced before. He had no name for these feelings, yet with every crooked smile from Ben, they flourished.
It was only until Hux’s very last day in Farwell that he realized what exactly those feelings were, but it was far too late.
Approximately 45 minutes after receiving his diploma from Farwell Township High School, Hux boarded a one-way ticket to New York, leaving Nebraska and all unspoken feelings behind. It never once crossed his mind that perhaps little Ben Solo might have shared that same warmth too.
15 years later, 33 year-old Hux is leading the privileged life of a Wall Street banker when he gets the call, a call that most children would be dreading; his father is dying, diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer and a projected 6 weeks to live. Out of all things, Hux is unsurprised, but feels obligated to see the old man out, even if it is just so he can sell the family property afterward.
Vowing that it will be the very last time he ever sets foot in the hated town, Hux returns to Farwell where thoughts of a past fondness for a boy with a lopsided grin stay long forgotten only up until the moment they’re not. That moment comes 3 days into Hux’s pitiful homecoming when a trip to the corner-shop grocer brings years of neglected guilt rushing down as his eyes fall onto a familiar face.
Standing behind the checkout counter is none other than Ben Solo, looking nothing like the particularly lanky boy Hux once knew. Ben stands taller now, taller than Hux even, having filled out considerably, but the man’s distinctively random beauty marks are unmistakable to Hux. The same goes for Ben’s nose, ears, lips, and even his raven hair which now falls longer in wild waves, pulled back delicately at the nape of his neck. However, the one aspect that throws Hux most for a loop are Ben’s deep brown eyes, or more specifically, how an undisguised sadness clouds them.
Hux knows things are not quite right as him and Ben are thrown back into each other’s orbits, painful memories erupting as they struggle to find common ground. Changed, but not quite foreign people, they both yearn for something that goes unsaid. An abundance of thrumming questions hang up in the air, but there’s one that Hux can’t keep off his mind; the very same one that Ben can’t seem to answer.
the plaintive sound of a solitary saxophone drifts through the tunnel as you change lines on the tube. you round the last corner onto the platform to find that there is nobody playing.
the City is full of time-worn churches dedicated to saints of uncertain origin. st bartholomew-the-less. st mary aldermary. st giles-without-cripplegate. st andrew-by-the-wardrobe. st james garlickhythe. amidst some confusion, it transpires that st sepulchre does not exist.
every black cab driver speaks reverentially of the Knowledge. exactly what this Knowledge is, or where it can be found, is shrouded in secrecy.
you attempt to leave soho. you dart down alleys and through courts only to find yourself back at the grocers stall and sex shop you started by. neon begins to hum as it gets dark. orange-robed hare krishnas dance past, chanting the great mantra and beating their mridanga drums. the group swells in number, their chanting grows ever louder and they fill the narrow street. from the doorway of a club, a drag queen winks at you.
sirens wail in the distance, the sound doppling higher and lower as they approach and retreat but do not pass. you wonder what terrible crime is being attended to by so many police cars and resolve to keep an eye out in the local paper. you forget this thought in the next instant.
as bishopsgate becomes shoreditch high street, and kingsland road gives way to stoke newington, you realise that you have been traveling in a straight line for an unnervingly long time. the road stretches endlessly before you, diverting neither right nor left. afraid, you continue walking, the ghosts of marching legions and chariots at your back.
flocks of cranes attend to the skyline. metal and glass skyscrapers twist up to the sky, visions of gleaming modernity. these ostentatious paeans to mindless urbanism become known colloquially as the gherkin, the walkie talkie, and the cheese grater; the city populace will have their revenge.