Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Return to Winthrop St. - Part 2

3 days later


How are you settling in to college life in Delaware? Are the dorms at Elmhurst U cool or challenging? Have you met anybody cool enough to be friends with yet?

California is pretty awesome I must say. The weather is better than I could have expected. It’s really nice during the day and gets a little chilly at night. You know how I like to wear a sweatshirt with shorts so it’s right up my alley.

I’m sure you’ve seen that I’ve sent you a couple of texts. You haven’t responded. I figure you’re busy. It’s okay. I just wanna talk to you.

Write back when you can. Oh, forgot to ask, how are your classes so far? Anything too crazy?


P.S. I’m rushing Delta Sigma Phi

There was no response to the email and still no response to the text messages. Atwood had a difficult time dealing with his feelings. He was never more grateful for the distraction of a new city and a new life with classes, homework, and pledge party mixers to keep his mind occupied. 

It was the alone time that was the worst. His mind would wonder down strange fantasy passageways with Kinlin standing next to him. They would be laughing and talking and sometimes holding hands. He didn’t know where the feelings were coming from. How could he have feelings for Kinlin? He had always looked at him merely as a friend. He was his go to person when anything exciting or traumatic happened.

In these high-glossed, multi-colored, heightened-reality fantasies he and Kinlin sometimes kissed again and sometimes had sex. He had to shake his head to clear it of those thoughts. He didn’t understand why they were there. He had never to his knowledge had feelings for Kinlin before. Why was he now somehow all consumed by Kinlin’s image?

One month into the fall term of his freshman year at UCLA he awoke with his heart pounding. He had been dreaming of Kinlin. They were in a bungalow on some deserted island. They were alone. They were naked, wrapped in each other’s arms. There was hardly any space to be found between them. The bungalow had no doors; only sheer curtains to block the view should some outsider try to peek inside. Those curtains were billowing in the warmest, yet coolest, breeze Atwood had ever felt. 

In the dream he whispered, “I want you” into Kinlin’s ear. As time has no chronology or linear respect in dreams, the next thing he knew he was being spooned by Kinlin and was feeling the pressure of Kinlin inside of him. It wasn’t as painful as he thought it would be. If fact it felt better than he could ever have anticipated. He felt himself pushing back against Kinlin, driven by desire. The pleasure was intense. So much so that he couldn’t hold on any longer. The breathing and movement between the two of them was gaining speed and Kinlin could sense Atwood’s desire for release. He reached around and took hold of Atwood in his most excited and vulnerable state and Atwood couldn’t control the guttural sound that erupted from inside of him as he lost his grasp on all that was real around him. He shuddered hard against Kinlin’s body. 

It was at that moment that his racing heart had awakened him. It was the most intense dream he had ever had and the first wet dream he’d had in at least a year. He was covered with his own semen.

“What the…” Atwood said aloud as he looked at the mess on his body. “A bungalow?” he then said realizing he’d never been inside one.

More than anything else he was confused. He lay there taking deep breaths in an attempt to slow his racing heart and calm himself down. His phone buzzed on the table next to his bed. The first thought through his mind was that maybe it was Kinlin.

What was happening to him? He was dreaming about sex with Kinlin. More than even sex—intimacy. He was thinking that his buzzing phone might be communication from Kinlin.  He wanted to—had to—shake these feelings free from his mind and body. 

He grabbed his phone and saw that it was nothing more than an email reminder of a study group meeting for the next night.

He got out of bed and grabbed a towel to clean himself up. He stumbled down the hall to use the bathroom. Clean and empty he fell back into bed. Sleep proved an elusive visitor for the rest of that night. He just lay there lost in the images of the dream. 

Finally after six weeks Atwood’s email inbox showed a response from Kinlin.


Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to you. Things here in Delaware are great. I’m enjoying college life very much. I have a really cool roommate. His name is Jack. He’s from New York. He came for a visit with his boyfriend over the summer and decided to stay and go to school here. Yes, he’s gay. He’s really cool. I know, I already said that, but it’s true. His boyfriend, Henry, is nice too. Sometimes we hang out on the weekends. Henry’s family owns a big department store here so they have a gigantic house. Well, his grandmother has a gigantic house. It’s fun to hang out there.

I’ve been really busy with school and stuff. I’m pledging the Kappa Sigma fraternity. I didn’t really know if I wanted to join a fraternity or not, but it’s pretty cool. There are lots of parties at the house. Not crazy parties like you might see in the movies, but parties nonetheless. I’ve hooked up with a couple of girls already. High-five!! Surprised to hear you’re pledging Delta Sig.

My classes are okay. The only one I really enjoy is Introduction to Marketing. The rest is just math and English and the shit we already did for four years of high school. 

Okay man, I’ve gotta head out to a mixer with the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority tonight so I’ll talk to you later.

Take care,

“Take care?” Atwood said to himself. He had been so excited to see the email from Kinlin, but so disappointed upon reading it. He didn’t know what he had expected from it, but certainly not what he got. He wanted Kinlin to ask how he was doing. He wanted a sense that Kinlin missed him or thought about him during the day. None of that was present in the email. Kinlin was just being Kinlin. Sharing his two random hookups proved that he had no feelings for Atwood at all. Sensitivity was not his strong suit.

Atwood felt a little sick. Had he been nothing more than a random hookup himself? A conquest? He had to distract himself. He wanted to write back immediately and confront Kinlin, but he couldn’t let himself do it. He knew he needed to calm down, take a breath and think before he wrote.

He decided the best thing he could do was hit the campus gym. The treadmill and his iPod would be his best distraction. Running and sweating would allow him to clear his head of all thoughts Kinlin and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. What he needed to do was walk away from the situation. He had to figure out a way to stop obsessing over Kinlin and to focus on himself and the new life he could create in California.

Over the next two weeks Atwood studied and went to the frat house and tried to focus on anything other than Kinlin. He enjoyed his fraternity brothers. They gave him a sense of camaraderie and family while everything familiar was across the country on the other coast.

One evening at the frat house he got caught up in a drinking game and found himself more than buzzed, but less than stinking drunk. He was in a place where nothing mattered and his cares seemed to have left his body. He found himself upstairs in one of his frat brothers’ bedrooms, the light of the computer beckoning, calling him to it like a bug drawn to the purple light of a bug zapper. 

He sat down and accessed his email account and reread the letter from Kinlin. He wasn’t as disappointed in it this time. What he felt was the desire to be honest with Kinlin. 

Dear Kinlin,

I’m so glad you wrote back. You seem to be having a good time. I’m glad you like your roommate. That is important. 

I miss you. I was hoping that your letter might tell me you missed me too, but it didn’t
We never talked about what happened between us, Kinlin. We spent the night together. A night different than any we’d spent together before. I still don’t understand why it happened. Are you gay? I might be. I don’t know. I haven’t had another experience like that with any one else, but I also haven’t slept with a girl. I never thought I was gay, but I enjoyed what we did so much that I’m now confused.

I think about you every day, Kinlin. Do you think about me? I think I love you. I don’t mean that I’m in love with you, but I think my love for you is deeper than just friendship. Is that weird?

Do your regret what happened? I wish you would talk to me.


He pressed “send” before he could talk himself out of it. He didn’t even proofread the letter. He had said the things that had been gnawing at his insides and waking him with anxiety. All that was left was to wait for a response. Thankfully, his buzz was still there and he wouldn’t have to worry about that tonight.

When he woke the next morning there was more than a headache waiting for him. Kinlin had responded. Atwood was excited to see an email from Kinlin in his inbox, but then he remembered that he had sent an email the previous night while intoxicated. His stomach lurched. He wanted to vomit.

“Shit,” he said out loud to himself. 


Part of me regrets what happened between us, but the other part (possibly the biggest part) is happy it happened. Maybe we both should have been adult enough to not do what we did. I know I started it. I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you. I was just curious. I used you to kill that curiosity. I don’t think that I’m gay. As I said in my previous letter I’ve hooked up with a couple of girls since I’ve been here. 

You really think you might be gay? You know I think you’re a cool guy. I would love to hear about your feelings. I have to run now though. Class calls.


P.S. I do think about you every day.

“I do think about you every day” kept running through Atwood’s mind. Whenever his mind seemed clear of all thoughts, that line in Kinlin’s letter would run through it like the crawl at the bottom of CNN; impossible to ignore. 

All Atwood wanted was to see Kinlin’s face—a text or phone call would be just as good; the cherry on top of an already decadent sundae. 

He shook his head as if to free it of its thoughts and images. He was more miles away from Kinlin than he knew. There was no chance of seeing him. He could call, but he wanted Kinlin to be the one to call. He had to put all thoughts of Kinlin and his kiss—his body—out of his mind. He wanted to rid himself of his feelings. He couldn’t fathom owning up to them. He wasn’t sure that he wanted to be gay; he couldn’t imagine it. He needed to find a girl to hang out with and see if things changed.

©2011 Michael Rohrer