Taking a Look Back
Sometimes taking a long look back over one’s shoulder is a bad thing. I mean, it’s definitely easier to keep running from the monsters if one keeps their eyes front and center. I would strongly recommend not gazing longingly at where you’ve been if you’re, say, driving. Or walking down a busy street chock full of traffic and other pedestrians. But there is a when and a where for everything.
Yes, probably. Well, no. Anyway, my point!
This particular look back (although it more often than not does feel like an extremely busy street) is one we all need to do now and again: that moment “It” all began. There’s hundreds of those moments—your first love, your graduation, the first time you lost someone important to you—but this post is about writing. As they all seem to be, no doubt. 😉
So where was I, when was I, when I first started writing in this genre. The where is an easy one—a little town off the Canadian side of Lake Erie. It was 2012, although I had been writing free-read short stories for the previous year or two before that. Those are just the actualities, though, and not the underlying wheres and whens. They run a lot deeper. The truth of the matter is that I was in a place of loneliness and confusion. I was in a time when I could see big changes coming at me, and I didn’t know how to face them or whether I’d even make it through them.
Then I met Nicolæ.
For those of you that recognize that name, I am (a) grateful that you do, and (b) understanding of your confusion. Nicolæ, you would no doubt remind me, is a person of fiction. And I agree with you… the Nicolæ that eventually walked the pages of Înflori is fictional indeed. However, Nicolæ might have come to me under another name, and presented as somewhat different to his fictional characterization, but the essence of Nicolæ is as true to the person that I met and his gentle way of teaching, of winding truth into stories, and meeting him changed my life. He changed the way I view people and deal with situations that are difficult.
For those of you that have no idea who I’m talking about, I’d love to take this opportunity to introduce him to you. The fictional Nicolæ, anway. So turn around with me for a moment, will you? Let’s have a look back together…
“Dustin, what are you doing?” Nicolæ pulled back and Dustin let out a small whine of disapproval, holding tight to Nicolæ’s shoulders, trying to stop the retreat.
“Come on,” Dustin pleaded. “Stop pushing me away.” His lips tried unsuccessfully to relocate skin. “You can’t tell me you don’t want this…”
“Want?” Nicolæ snorted, and then repeated, “Want? You think I would want to have sex with you here? In a toilet?”
Dustin huffed and rolled his eyes. “Damn it, Nicolæ! Don’t be such a prude.” He slipped one arm around Nicolæ’s shoulder and let his other hand fall to the man’s chest. He lowered his voice. “I need this. I need you.”
Nicolæ reached up and unwound Dustin’s arm with a sigh. “You don’t need me. You want me. You don’t need anyone. You refuse to.”
The seductive softness fell from Dustin’s face. “Don’t you dare assume to know me.”
With a quick reach Nicolæ grabbed the hand still resting on his chest. “Do I not? Am I wrong? Tell me then, that I am wrong.”
Dustin twisted his wrist, trying to free himself from a hand far too talon-like. He could feel tears welling up in his eyes and he had no idea why; why the man continued to refuse him, why Nicolæ made him feel so cheap, why any of that even bothered him. “What the fuck do you want from me then?” Dustin growled. “Why the hell did you show up tonight if you’re not interested?”
“I did not say I was not interested.” Nicolæ released him and Dustin struggled to hold back sound from leaving his throat, as he wasn’t entirely sure that the tears were alone in their encroachment. Tears in his eyes he could hide, but Dustin would not let his voice betray him. “I am very interested. You draw me, Dustin. But I have yet to understand if you draw me because you are beacon or because you are flame. And I have no desire in getting burned.”
“What the hell?” Dustin spit. “How can you judge me when you don’t even know me?”
“I don’t wish to judge you.” Nicolæ corrected. “But I do wish to know you. The man before the cock. Because I have no doubt that if I try to learn of you the other way around, I will never get the chance to meet the man.”
We are not doing this, Dustin’s mind screamed at him. This is bullshit. Get out and get away before this man drives you crazy—and Dustin reacted instinctually. “I’m tired of trying to be good enough for you.”
He brushed past Nicolæ, shoulder-checking the bigger man on his way by. Twelve years of hockey practice had trained Dustin well and Nicolæ, big as he was, stumbled. Dustin followed the move with a good ol’ fashioned door punch on his way through the exit.
“Dustin,” Nicolæ called and Dustin almost didn’t turn. Almost. But it was just too hard to stop his heel from spinning and his ankle from pivoting.
He grasped the door and stared at Nicolæ’s patient expression. “What?”
Nicolæ paused, sighed. “When did you start?”
Dustin cocked his head, confused.
“Trying.” Nicolæ clarified. “When did you start trying?”
Ears burning and throat choked, Dustin let the door fall shut. The only stop he took was one quick second to close his eyes, fight away tears and straighten his shoulders before he stalked out of the club.
Copyright © 2012, AF Henley
Nicolæ taught me that only way a disability can make you falter is if you see it as one. He showed me that true love is unquestionable, that it has righteous power, and it sees deeper and farther than just about anything. He reminded me that anything can be forgiven—once, twice, even a dozen times if the person requiring forgiveness proves themselves and shows the one offering forgiveness that they’re willing to keep moving towards their own redemption.
More than anything, Nicolæ taught me that love is everywhere. You just have to open yourself up to it.
Until next time!
AF Henley <3
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica. A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since—an indentured servant to the belief that romance and true love can mend the most broken soul. Even when presented in prose.
For more information please stop by for a visit at afhenley.com.