My room looks like a crime scene. As if someone tried to rob me, and when failed to find something to steal, decided at least to make a proper mess. Forgive me, dear robbers, that I don't have anything of value!..
Okay, nobody robbed me. I just need to pack one single bag. And how am I supposed to choose from my whole life what should fit in there?
What would you take with you to a desert island? Three things only! Damn... I always hated such stupid riddles. And now I'm trying to solve something similar. Of course, I'm not going to an island.
College awaits me, a dormitory! A life of a young and carefree student...
"Where did you put your documents? It's the first thing you need to show to a dorm supervisor, or do you immediately want to impress everyone with your collection of panties?"
This is Mark. When I want to annoy him, I call him Marco.
"My God, Mark, you're such a bore! It feels like you're about to turn forty! I hope there won't be people like you!"
"There will be dozens more like me, and they will be hundreds of times more boring."
"Then I changed my mind. I stay."
I start unpacking, but only to pull out the folder with documents and put it on top of things, as Mark told me.
"Hell no!" He makes an angry face and begins to shove my things hastily back.
But he already grabbed my bag and slammed the door in the hallway. I'm standing in the middle of the room with the folder in my hands. I'm not sad. Maybe a little. But that's okay, isn't it?
Come on! The dorm is not so far from home! I can always come here. But on the threshold, for some moment I forget why I wanted to leave so much...
I didn't feel bad here. I just desperately wanted a change. For some reason.
In a car, I constantly skip songs. Mark is pissed off, but he is silent, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel when we stop at traffic lights. He seemed to have gone deep into himself, in his thoughts. Even his farewell smile looks somehow forced.
"Don't do stupid things, okay?" he throws one last thing and drives off, leaving me on the street in front of a three-story dormitory. And after a moment I begin to feel a rush of power from the freedom that has fallen on me. I can't help smiling.
The supervisor does not appreciate my joy and meticulously checks the documents, without even once glancing at me.
And finally, the keys to the cherished room. A door. And... an empty room where sunlight is pouring from a large window. A bunk bed, a table and a chair, a large wardrobe.
I drop my bag to the floor, climb onto the top bed, and lean back on the pillows. Before I had time to think about anything, someone else entered the room. How did I forget? I have a neighbor...
The neighbor turns out to be a tall and gloomy guy, he looks younger than me, but he is sullen, as if he needs to pay a mortgage. Although, how do I know? Maybe he needs to ...
"Hi," I say, breaking the awkward pause as he stares at my face. "I'm Ray. Ray Connor."
"Ted Morris," he mutters and sits on the lower bed.
Not a very friendly.
So my student life started. Ted Morris is no longer such a bore. It turned out that we had many common classes, and little by little we got along. Mark only called me occasionally, but I never called him. It's hard for me to explain why... It's not that I didn't want to talk to him. Or I had nothing to say...
A couple of months flew by like one day. Endless activities, then parties. I finally became normal. Nothing and no one reminded me otherwise.
Sometimes I felt pang of guilt for excluding Mark from my life so abruptly... But the more time passed, the higher this wall became. The wall of my silence, behind which I was calm. Mark stopped calling, hearing no enthusiasm in my voice and short answers to his questions. But I still thought about him sometimes. And these thoughts always made me feel guilty. Eventually it forced me to go to his house for the weekend. Without any warning.
No one answered my knock at the door. Mark sometimes slept until noon, and now it was only 12. So I just opened the door with my key. The apartment was quiet. I smelled a familiar smell – the smell of a home. You can feel it only when you were away for some time and then came back. Then you understand what you were missing.
I went to the kitchen and put a box with cakes on a table. Mark always was a sweet-tooth, he loved chocolate cream biscuits. So I bought him a couple. I thought we would have dinner, talk about things... I'm a student now! I guess I wanted to do something mature. And it was hard for me to say, was I an adult? I'm eighteen (still underage), but eighteen is a lot, right? How demanding of myself should I be? Mark is twenty-eight, is he an adult? He has a job, he pays the bills and everything.
I chuckled at the thought. This was not a bad topic for a conversation. Maybe a bit strange after so many weeks of my silence... I wanted to go to Mark's room to wake him up, but I noticed a silhouette behind me. Mark must have heard my steps.
"Well, finally! And I thought it was time to set fire to your…"
The words stuck in my throat as I turned to see that behind me was not Mark at all, but some unfamiliar man in pajama pants. I even thought for a moment that I had broken into someone else's apartment, but I quickly remembered that I had opened the door with my key. Maybe it's a robber?! In pajamas... Am I a complete idiot? Maybe this is Mark's friend? I've never seen him.
Mark has moved out, and this is a new tenant who did not have time to change locks?!
The stranger continued to stare at my face, which, I hoped, did not reflect my guesses one after another.
"Where is Mark?" I finally blurted out.
"You must be Ray," the man said calmly.
"And you are... a man in pajamas?"
He didn't like my remark, he pressed his lips together tightly and frowned. I didn't mean to be rude...
While we were standing, I surveyed him. He was... how can I put it right?... well built. I would even say impeccably built. His hair was light, a little disheveled.
Wait a minute... Did he come out from Mark's room? Did he sleep here? He didn't come here in his pajamas, right? He slept in Mark's room? Slept with Mark in the same room? Slept with Mark?!
From these thoughts, my head were on fire. And at that moment Mark entered the apartment. I immediately turned to him. I wanted him to say something to save me from the growing feeling inside, which threatened to turn my whole life upside down.
"Ray! " Mark, seeing me, frowned, and his greeting came out not very friendly. "You should've called..."
"Well, how was I supposed to know that you were not alone here?!"
This was not the voice I wanted to speak. But for some reason I could not find another.
"Marco?" pajama-man says. And to my surprise, "Marco" is not angry at all. My God, did I even know him?..
"What's the matter, Ray?" Mark asked in a suddenly calm voice.
"No, no, no. Don't play my older brother now. I want to know what's going on! Who the hell is that? Why did he come out from your room? Answer me, Mark!"
I probably shouldn't have yelled at him. Mark's eyes turned into two narrow slits.
"Ian, please leave us." He refers to the one in the pajamas, and he reluctantly walks back to Mark's room.
My hands begin to shake. Why do I feel so angry? As if I was betrayed.
"So, did my brother know about you? Did he know who you were?" I say in a trembling voice. I do not want to believe that this is my voice, but I can no longer stop myself. Therefore, I am raising my voice. "Did he?! He couldn't have known! If he had known, he would never have entrusted me to you! He would have despised you! Just as I despise you now!"
In contrast to me, Mark's anger looks like an ice block, he does not take his eyes off me, and his words ring like metal.
"Your brother made his choice about me. You, too, are free to make your own."
"Oh, believe me, I will make my choice, be sure! And it will be better than my brother's!"
Now Mark broke into a scream.
"Yes, you try it! And first of all, try not to be such an idiot as your brother! Try not to die as stupidly as he did!"
"Don't you dare talk about my brother like that!"
"What was good about your brother if he left you in my care, huh?!"
"Don't blame him! It's all you! It's your fault! You deceived him and me! Tell me, Mark. Sorry, Marco," It seems that now poison will start dripping from my tongue. "Your lover waited a day or immediately jumped into your bed as I left?!"
A sudden blow made my jaw click, and I hear ringing in my ears. Mark kicks me out of the apartment. Only in five minutes I find the strength to get to my feet. I spit blood right into the stairwell and stagger down the stairs.