It’s about Lance, who always got his way. And Gwen, the ingenue with room in her life for only one or two people at a time. They date. And Rose, almost as stubborn as Lance and partially responsible for our lack of personal boundaries. She doesn’t date Lance, but they hook up a bit; she won’t leave her boyfriend for him, though. She eventually does leave her boyfriend, but not for Lance – for another friend of theirs who probably won’t make an appearance here, one of many friends of theirs whom she hooked up with over time. And there’s Jack, who somehow manages to date no one. And Arthur, only recently having shed the shell of introversion, who finds himself in a position to woo anyone, and chooses to direct his gaze at Gwen.
This is a story about liminality, about children stuck in-between, playing at being adults. Smart children with impeccable credentials and refined tastes who know which wine to serve with white meat and how to succinctly sum up the Rationalist philosophical movement, children who can beat most adults hands down at the high culture game, but children none the less. This is a story about decadence, indulgence, and debauchery in every sense, yet on a small, personal scale. This is about children who went too far, dropped too many guards and limits because they so longed to be touched, because they failed to understand the reasoning behind certain societal conventions.
We’ll start in the flashback and establish Gwen, Lance, Rose, and Arthur. We’ll delve into their everyday lives and the dynamic between them. We’ll add the other, minor characters, as needed. We’ll then focus in on Arthur for a bit and highlight his adventuresome nature. He’ll come into the realization of his own desirability. Then he and Gwen will hook up. And then we’ll end with them apart; maybe we’ll see why explicitly or maybe we’ll simply have registered the seeds of the relationships dissention.
Will we have a message? Will we have a central theme? We’d better at least have the latter.
We were close in ways that do not now seem appropriate. We admitted things best left unsaid. We were in each other’s heads. We lay together with a casual indifference to the associations that such physical intimacy normally brought. We spent our time together to the exception of all others, rarely leaving the dorm for extra-curricular happenings. It did not strike us as stagnant; it could only last so long.
We did not generally have secrets, there was no room for secrets amidst our feckless crew because we were never apart long enough to having anything that was our own, that was not shared with the rest.
We thought nothing of using each other as pillows, one falling drunkenly asleep against another. We thought nothing of soliciting backrubs from each other. We lifted each other, got carried around by each other, and it was all in good fun. We held each other when we needed holding, and sometimes a little more.
Given our social seclusion, we rarely found ourselves in relationships of any considerable duration and so turned to each other for comfort in the form of the trappings of relationships. Apart from our families, we looked to have those needs met by each other and so became a family.
We did have some secrets though, each of us. There were secrets dreaming under the seas of our openness that were never acknowledged in just the same way that there was naked flesh and shifting sexual organs beneath our clothing, equally ignored. One or twice, both came out into the open, but it was very rare.
So steeped in our sexuality were we that we couldn’t talk about it; so normalized had we made its mechanics that we could never quite figure out how to scale that peak, having obliterated the social staircase by placing nearly all of the steps at ground-level.
For all of our physical intimacy, the back rubs and the full body massages, the long hugs and sleeping pressed together, we never dropped our clothing. We dressed immaculately, and none ever made the move to peel off these layers. Our clothes represented the final barrier between our selves and each other, the trappings of self-image. In the end, flesh-to-flesh, we met only in the acceptable regions.
Our clothes were sorts of lies, but they were not the only lies that we kept, and unlike our clothing this other class of lies were rarely if ever shared among us. I never confided in anyone my feelings for Gwen until I made my move. Rose did not talk about her reasons for disappearing from campus for one entire semester. Lance did not speak much of his family. These are but the amorphous shadows which our secrets cast, by their very nature I have no concrete knowledge of any save my own.
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