Short story

Two and Three

I wrote this piece one night a few weeks ago. I can’t say it’s my best work and it’s more of an examination of an idea than a story

A woman walked up to John and Trevor. She was their neighbor and always noticed that the two men, each in their late 40s, were never apart. The woman, whose name was Sarah, suspected that they were homosexual but when she asked them, they always said no. Today, she had decided to invite them over for a barbecue. They accepted.

At the barbecue John and Trevor sat next to each other. They didn’t act like a couple, but every now and then they performed actions that were too intimate for platonic friends and so awkward that brothers wouldn’t do in public, like fix each other’s hair or lean on one another. Eventually the Sarah asked the two how they met.

They met in college, both of them attracted to the same woman, a student named Renee Abbe. John said that she was dating him when they met while Trevor insisted they were all single. They became good friends with each over but both of them really wanted the Renee to be their girlfriends.

Deciding that they did not want the girl to come between them so they both asked her out and agreed that if she did indeed go out with one of them the other would not bear a grudge and the three of them would remain the best of friends.

John wanted to remain ambiguous about who she chose because, as it would soon turn out, it did not truly matter. Trevor, however, admitted that Renee had always had a crush on John and chose to be with him. The two would date but their combined friendship was so strong and they were all so close that Trevor ended up being with them on their casual dates nine tenths of the time.

One day, Renee admitted that she loved Trevor. She also loved John, In her mind, no matter ow hard she tried she couldn’t see them as separable. They were two individuals that complimented each other. John was artistic and modest and Trevor was honest, deep and rough around the edges. but soft.

John and Trevor made sure Sarah knew that they were only quoting Renee when they said this.

She loved the two of them equally and she felt ashamed of herself for it. She wished the two of them could be one person, and was ashamed for wanting so selfish.

And then Trevor and John said, “We aren’t two, Renee. We’re three.”

That was John’s artistic and romantic version of what happened, Trevor assured Renee. What really followed was days of tears, awkwardness but also healthy communication (Trevor was taking a course in domestic relationships and knew how to house proper communication).

It was not that Renee was an unfaithful girl, but her faith was to the two of them. She would not date another man but John and Trevor. She would not even admit being to movie stars. And years later, the two of them discovered that she was genuinely not interested in pornography of other men.

John and Trevor insist that their frienship never strained during these days. In fact, it was strengthened by their new found common interest. Love for their friend and lover, and worry for her health.

One day, Trevor and Renee admitted to John that the two had slept with each other that night. John was shocked to find that he wasn’t angry and didn’t feel betrayed. It was then that he knew that this love fore Renee and friendship with Trevor was more complicated, more twisted than the three of them had believed. But in a way it was also simple.

John and Trevor, who both stilled Renee from their hearts, one day proposed the same idea to Renee. They proposed that they all got married together and Renee tearfully agreed.

They were young and a lot of young people were embracing non-orthodox relations in their time, either out of rebellious spirit, or hormones. John and Renee got married at age 25 but all three of their families understood what the priest did not know; Trevor was also married to them.

Trevor insisted that he had volunteered for this and was annoyed at how guilty John looked as he was explaining this to Sarah.

The three of them lived together, slept in the biggest bed they could afford and were as close as any couple could be. Of course, John had no sexual attraction to Trevor and vice versa, but they shared a love equivalent to romance. Renee had a child, a son who was John’s biologically. They never checked when he was born but when little Mark grew up he had black hair, like John.

The four of them lived together. When people asked them about their relationship the four of them each explained in their own way. Renee would often say their relationship was all about mutual love and spiritual contentedness. John described it artistically and beautifully. Trevor told anyone who asked the truth with no sugarcoats: they were in a polygamous relationship and happy with it. Young Mark always explained proudly and defensively that his parents all loved one another, all the way until he graduated and moved out to start a life of his own.

They all shared a happy relationship for twenty eight years. And then, one day, Renee died.

John and Trevor didn’t explain how, but it was an illness. Renee had passed on two years ago.

When they finished speaking, the barbecue had moved inside because it was darker and mosquitoes were starting to bite. Sarah offered for the two to come in with the family, but they insisted that they should leave for home. They thanked them for the meal and Trevor offered to help clean up the yard but Sarah refused. She watch the two of them walk to their home, not hand in hand but together. Then she went inside. She watched her daughter play with one of her cousins, and smiled at her husband who was passing out coffee to sober up the guests. She could not imagine loving more than one man and raising her little daughter in such a family.

But that was it, wasn’t it? No matter how John, Trevor, Renee or even their son explained their relationships, there was just no way to make anyone else understand what they shared. They were alone, in a world that didn’t understand their feelings and relationship. No one else spoke their language and, in a way, they themselves couldn’t understand it even if they made huge decisions based on it.

The three of them, the four of them, and now the two of them. They understood what it means to love more than most others.

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