Ethan

It seemed that no matter how his hair fell, he looked fabulous. If it was in his eyes, it looked boyish. If it was curled up a bit, it looked sexy. If it was cut short, it showed off his perfect forehead. That was the kind of man-boy he was. He could wear whatever he wanted, and did. Anything from black boots, black jeans and a biker jacket to a waistcoat, pinstriped pants and loafers. In his pocket, you could easily find either a pack of cigarettes or a watch on a chain. If all that weren’t enough, he also projected his comfort and self-esteem and acceptance of who he was. His presence was enough to make anyone weak-kneed, men and women alike. He wasn’t even twenty yet.

He stood smoking outside of his apartment building. As I walked by, he looked up at me, and I saw that his eyes were wet, on the verge of spilling tears. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out “Ethan? You alright?”

He mutely offered me a cigarette, lit it for me, and leaned back against the brick wall, one leg going up to prop himself. He was wearing his black boots, I noticed. I stood beside him, puffing away, feeling more intimate with him than I ever had before, despite being his neighbour for over six months, and despite us having many mutual friends. It seemed that I saw him all the time – around the building, at clubs and pubs. He was a fixture of the Soho night-life, and I often found myself dancing just a few people away from him. It wasn’t that he was a snob, exactly. He wasn’t posh, his father didn’t go to Eton and he hadn’t even finished university. He was just a regular bloke like me. Of course, I couldn’t pull off half the image he had, but then, that’s me.

“Boyfriend,” he sighed. He took a last drag and then threw the butt down. He stomped on it with a force that made me shiver a little. He looked at me, and I think I must have looked a little guilty, since his eyes flashed from heartbroken to angry to resigned in quick succession. “You knew?” He’d already ducked his head, pulling out another cigarette from his pack.

I couldn’t deny it, but I didn’t want to let him in on the fact that, well, we all knew. We all thought he knew it, too. We’d seen them together almost every night of the past few months, but we all knew. The boyfriend lived in Manchester, only came to London every month or two. He’d been over just three weeks ago. So, obviously, we all thought that Ethan knew.

“Sorry, mate.”

He shook his head. His hair flopped, looking perfect no matter what he did. That hair, that hair that my eyes always fixated on, it was still as glossy, as perfect, as natural as it always was. But the rest of him… Well. For the first time since I’d met him, I wasn’t intimidated.

“When’s your birthday?” I asked. I knew it didn’t matter one whit, but I asked anyway.

“February. February 9th, ’88. Why?”

“No reason. You’re two days younger than me. I always thought you were older than me. Never mind. Come upstairs, come on, I’ll make you some tea and we can watch whatever football game is one tonight, right?”

He chucked his smoke way across the street so it hit the building across and a little spray of sparks shone red-hot before falling to the ground. Brushing a hand through his hair, he followed me into the building.

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16 thoughts on “Ethan

  1. This is first class fiction. As a matter of fact, let me encourage you to submit it to the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette. If you go to The Gazette, click on the Contest/Submission tab at the top of the page. Just follow the guidelines and the story will automatically be entered into the contest. The winner of the contest wins $30. Good luck.

  2. Lua says:

    I feel like I’ll know Ethan if I bumped him on the street, you portrayed him perfectly! And I loved the narrator’s voice… Well done! 🙂

  3. I loved this. Why are you not writing a book!? I’m going to hop a flight out to you, just so I can grab you by your shirt and shake some sense into you! You’re really talented!

    • I want to, I want to, I want to! Believe me, I do. I’ve got some things going, but I’m scared, feel too young and haven’t made enough time for it yet. But I will, I’m planning on sitting my ass down and writing this summer.

      • Why feel too young? S.E. Hinton had her first book published when she was 16 and it’s standard 7th grade summer reading in my old junior high to this day. The guy that wrote Eragon, wasn’t he like… 15 or something when he started it? (And you’re WAY more talented than he is, btw.) Don’t let age be a barrier for you.

        Motivation is the tallest fence I have to climb. But even ten minutes here and there is progress! You can do it! And I’m always eager to read the shorts you post. ❤

      • Thank you for the pep-talk – I need it, I really do. And I know, I know, age shouldn’t mean much, because yeah, look at the kid who wrote Eragon [and thank you! I confess, I never read Eragon because even though I’m a huge fantasy fan, it never looked like a good story :/].

        But it’s not even age, specifically – it’s that it’s hard to believe that I can really do it, you know? I’m chasing this thing with a knowledge that I’ll never catch it. And that’s stupid, I know, because then I really won’t.

      • Yeah…. Eragon was weak, and ripped off a bunch of other books/movies/series in some pretty obvious ways. But he got published. Do NOT know how that managed to be as big as it was, but hell, more power to him, I guess.

        In any case, motivation and confidence are huge issues for me, too. I may have to harass you on the daily to make sure you’re writing. =P You’re too talented to let a lack of confidence get in your way.

  4. Very nice!! I love the descriptions of him, the physical bringing out the charcter himself. And the affair! Scandelous. GOtta love a good scandal.

    I want more writing samples!

  5. Vivid portrayal. i felt like I was watching this happen right in front of me. I could feel his sadness and the comfort of your friendship extending…first rate writing!

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