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3 Months and Counting A short story by Andrew Boyett

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  1.  
  2. Danny wrote a stand-alone short story that he sent over for everyone.
  3.  
  4.  
  5. 3 Months and Counting
  6.  
  7. A short story by Andrew Boyett
  8.  
  9.  
  10. "What makes a lion decide to lay down with a jackass?" I asked him as we lay on our sides, facing each other on the bed. I had my head on the pillow and he had his head in his hand, propped up on his elbow.
  11.  
  12. It was late in the afternoon. Dust motes danced lazily in the sunlight pouring into the room from the big window beside us. The way the light hit his hair reminded me of the way the light hit David's hair in that Caravaggio painting where David is cutting off Goliath's head. I remember thinking how strange it was to think of such a violent painting at such a tender moment, but violence and tenderness was what he and I were, after all, and the lighting and the hair were uncanny in their resemblance to the painting. It looked beautiful. He looked beautiful. He always looked beautiful. I, on the other hand, had to have looked like shit. I'd been sneaking off to the bathroom to shoot meth for the last week and the afternoon I speak of was the third in a row I'd seen since I'd had any sleep.
  13.  
  14. "You're not a jackass and I'm not a lion," he said.
  15.  
  16. "Yes, you are."
  17.  
  18. "BUT," he continued. "If I WAS a lion and found myself lying down with a jackass, I guess it'd be because I know the jackass has what it takes to become a lion if he really, really wants to."
  19.  
  20. "Or because he's just a really handsome jackass."
  21.  
  22. "You're not funny," he laughed and punched me in the shoulder. I laughed too.
  23.  
  24. "So wait, wait," I straightened up my face from the laughing and tried to sound serious but I was still smiling. "This all sounds like an awful lot of work. Does the jackass have to wrap itself up in a cocoon first or what? Like, how does that happen?"
  25.  
  26. "You're so..." he narrowed his eyes at me but he was grinning a little still.
  27.  
  28. "So what?" I grinned too. "Disarmingly witty and incredibly charming?"
  29.  
  30. "Stop talking."
  31.  
  32. "What should I do instead?"
  33.  
  34. He leaned his face forward towards mine and I went to kiss him and my phone rang.
  35.  
  36. "God damn it," I snapped.
  37.  
  38. "Seriously?" He rolled his eyes and let his head fall back onto the pillow.
  39.  
  40. "I hope that's not work."
  41.  
  42. "Are you gonna answer it?" he asked, slapping the back of his hand across my chest.
  43.  
  44. "I guess," I said reluctantly.
  45.  
  46. I picked up my phone off the bed and looked at the screen. The call wasn't coming from anyone in my contacts and I didn't recognize the number. I pressed the green button on the screen and put the phone to my ear.
  47.  
  48. "Hello?"
  49.  
  50. "Mr. Boyer?" asked the voice on the other end of the line. It was a female voice and it was familiar to me.
  51.  
  52. "Yes?" I said, a sick feeling creeping into my gut.
  53.  
  54. "This is Ms. Wells. Are you at work right now?"
  55.  
  56. I got up off the bed and walked over to the window. I looked out at the driveway and no one was out there but I was scared to death.
  57.  
  58. "No," I said, trying to sound calm. "Why, what's up?"
  59.  
  60. "I need you to come in for a random screen. Can you make it over here within the hour?"
  61.  
  62. I took the phone away from my ear, looked at the screen and hit the red button, ending the call. I turned the phone off and tossed it down on the bed.
  63.  
  64. "Aaron, what's wrong?" Jake said, getting off the bed and standing next to me. "Who was that?"
  65.  
  66. I heard him but his voice sounded distant, like it was coming from another room in the house rather than from right next to me. I could feel my heartbeat in my ears. My head felt funny and everything looked kind of fuzzy. I looked around the room for something to focus on so I could get control of my thoughts. I looked at Jake but looking at him right then scared me even more so I looked at the front of the room by the door and saw the whiteboard we bought at Walt's Discount hanging on the wall. I read the message on it. Every morning, Jake would write a message on it for me and sometimes he would draw a picture to go with it. That morning, he had written "2/6/18 - 3 MONTHS AND COUNTING!!!" in black and drawn a rose next to it in red.
  67.  
  68. "Aaron," Jake put his hand on my shoulder. "Who was that? What's wrong?"
  69.  
  70. I looked at him and wanted to answer but my throat was all tight and burning inside. It was hard to breathe. The edges of my vision darkened. My heart kept pounding. I took off my glasses, tossed them onto the bed and looked at him. I could tell he was really worried. It was like he already knew that something horrible had happened but he couldn't figure out just what it was. An ugly thought crossed my mind: what if he was the reason this was happening, what if he reported me? I shook the thought off. He wouldn't do that. That wasn't Jake.
  71.  
  72. "Aaron!" he shook my shoulder. "What's going on? Who was on the phone?"
  73.  
  74. "My probation officer," I said. "She wants me to come in for a random screen and I'm dirty. I'm going to prison."
  75.  
  76. My chest felt cold on the inside and my hands were sweaty. I was starting to feel nauseous.
  77.  
  78. "No," said Jake, his eyes growing wide. "No shut up. She can't come here can she? Is she coming here? Are they coming here?"
  79.  
  80. "I don't know," I said. Panic was flooding my brain, making it hard to think. My hands began to tremble. I needed to do something but I didn't know what. "We can't stay here. I can't stay here."
  81.  
  82. "This can't be happening," said Jake. "I thought you were clean. Why couldn't you just listen to me? Why couldn't you just stop? I thought you stopped. You told me you stopped!"
  83.  
  84. "I'm sorry," I said. "I know and I'm sorry. I never thought this would happen."
  85.  
  86. "What the FUCK did you think was gonna happen?" he screamed and pushed me. I stumbled backwards and almost fell over but I caught myself on the bed and pushed myself back up.
  87.  
  88. "Jake, stop."
  89.  
  90. "Did you think you could just keep shooting meth and get away with it while you pretend everything is OK?"
  91.  
  92. "No," I said, stepping towards him then stepping back. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to reach him right then. I turned and walked towards the door.
  93.  
  94. "Stop," he said, following behind and grabbing my shirt sleeve. "Where are you going?"
  95.  
  96. I turned around and walked back into the room. "I don't know," I said. I was out of breath. "Nowhere. But I can't stay here. I need to get out of here."
  97.  
  98. "Why didn't you just stop?" he asked softly.
  99.  
  100. "It isn't that easy, Jake." I was getting kind of angry with him even though I knew I shouldn't be but I couldn't help it. "It's not like I could've just snapped my fingers or something."
  101.  
  102. "You told me you stopped," he said softly. I could see there were tears welling up in his eyes and he was sniffling. "You've been lying to me this whole time. How long have you been using?"
  103.  
  104. I looked at him and then looked away when his eyes caught mine.
  105.  
  106. "Come on, Jake," I groaned. "What does it matter now anyway?"
  107.  
  108. I saw something change in his eyes and his right arm shifted, then everything exploded in a bright white flash and I fell back against the wall and heard something clatter on the hardwood tile and I was sliding down the wall to the floor, holding my face and my jaw felt like something heavy was pressing against it and then the heaviness turned into pain that exploded in my face with each heart beat and I didn't blame him one bit because I deserved it but by God it hurt like a son of a bitch.
  109.  
  110. "It fucking matters a lot," he said, standing over me with a look on his face I'd never seen before. Then, after a few seconds the look changed and his face softened and he was crying again. I stood up, my jaw throbbing, and reached out to hold him and he balled up his fists and started pounding on my chest and I just let him get it out of his system while he screamed, his eyes flooded and his cheeks red with anger and glistening with tears. After a few seconds my chest started to hurt too much from him pounding on me so I pulled him into my arms and held him tight and he stopped fighting me and just let me hold him. He was crying hard and his whole body shook. It was like there was an earthquake going on inside him. His face was wet and hot and the stubble on his cheeks scraped against the side of my neck. I wanted to cry, too. I felt compelled to cry but I couldn't make myself and that made me feel awful.
  111.  
  112. "You told me you stopped after I left to go stay at Sydney's," he said into the hollow of my collar bone. "You told me you were gonna give me a week clean for our 3 month anniversary."
  113.  
  114. His voice sounded distant again. The impact of what he was saying and what it meant to him, how it must have been making him feel, it made me feel dizzy and sick. He was only 18 and I was a selfish, idiotic excuse for a man who was 13 years older than him.
  115.  
  116. "I know I did. I'm sorry. I don't know what else to say. I'm sorry."
  117.  
  118. "I didn't ask for that. You offered it. You said that," his voice cracked. "How long have you been using? How long have you been lying to me?"
  119.  
  120. "I've been using every day since you went to stay at Sydney's."
  121.  
  122. He stepped back and we both stood there for a minute, then he went over to the bed and sat back down.
  123.  
  124. "Come over here," he said. "Sit down."
  125.  
  126. I went over and sat next to him and he took my hand, the golden-brown stubble of his his beard soaked and shiny with his tears in the sunlight coming through the window that bounced off the hardwood tile where the whiteboard with his anniversary message on it had clattered to the ground and lay face down beside the wall where it was hanging before I crashed into it, knocking it down after he hit me.
  127.  
  128. "Thank you for finally telling me the truth."
  129.  
  130. I was able to cry, then. My eyes burned as the tears built up in them. My nose was running so I wiped it across the back of my forearm and I laid my head down in his lap and he held my face in his hands and leaned down and kissed my forehead and went, "shhhh" and told me that it was OK but it wasn't OK and it wasn't ever going to be OK again.
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