Last Excerpt from Awakenings, by Tara Larson

January 6, 2012


JUNE had been quietly observing her son over the past couple of weeks. She still had to quash her anxiety about Sean’s “disease,” but she found herself relaxing more and more. He was going to counseling, he was taking the medication she had advocated for, and he was a genuine pleasure to be around. She noted how he relished his role as cook and groundskeeper of the house. She also noted how he never once brought up law school, or Lindsey. She had a nagging feeling that he was hiding something, though… she just couldn’t put her finger on it.

ADAM spent the following weeks with his head down, staying as busy as he could so he wouldn’t dwell on his situation with Sean. He tried to focus on the pieces for his upcoming sculpture show and spent a lot of his free time in the metal-sculpture lab at UM, which he had free access to due to his blossoming friendship with some of the art department faculty members. They had encouraged him months before to show his work publicly and had helped him secure the show he was working toward in the spring in New York. They had also been the ones who talked him into trying out posing for the life-drawing classes, saying he would make a perfect subject with his long limbs and pronounced musculature.

These people were intelligent, successful people, not the opportunistic vampire types that he used to hang out with in the South Beach party scene. He had gotten caught up in that scene a few years prior, when he was entangled in a very destructive relationship. The guy he had dated was named Marco, he was Cuban, and he was a drug abuser. He also was a friend abuser, Adam came to find out.

When they met through a mutual friend, Marco had seemed very charming and seductive. He was a very handsome guy: tall, dark-haired, like Adam. In fact they looked very similar; people used to call them “the twins” whenever they went out. He wore a goatee and had his eyebrow pierced. He had dark brown eyes, which at the time Adam found delicious and mysterious. Later, however, he came to see them as cold and calculating and evil. He spoke Spanish, but together they spoke a mixture of Spanish and English—Spanglish—which was pretty common in Miami for second-generation Latinos who grew up in Florida with foreign-born parents. They frequented the many clubs throughout the hot party scene on the beach together, and Adam often found himself up all night and sleeping all day because of all the drugs he was doing with Marco. He also sometimes found himself waking up in beds he wasn’t familiar with, that belonged to some random third party—sometimes male, sometimes female—that Marco had hooked them up with for a tryst without Adam’s full, lucid consent. He realized that drugs were making his decisions for him when he awakened late one night after having passed out on Marco’s living room couch, only to find Marco in bed with not one, but two other guys in a wild three-way. He left the house when Marco insinuated he should join them, like that had been the original plan all along, had Adam not been such a lightweight and passed out. However, it wasn’t long before Marco wormed his way back into his life again.

Soon after that happened, he also discovered Marco was stealing money from him. Adam’s father had passed away during this period, and Adam, who was lost in grief over his father’s death, didn’t notice at first that Marco had gained access to his bank account. Apparently Marco thought since Adam was now relatively wealthy he should be footing the bill for all their partying and proceeded to pilfer several thousand dollars from Adam, which was promptly blown on cocaine, Ecstasy, alcohol, and expensive clothes. Upon this discovery, Adam realized he’d had it with Marco and his conniving selfishness, and he left him—and the party scene—for good.

It took Adam a couple of months to detox and get over the initial sharp pain of the experience. After he got his wits about him again, he made sure he was disease-free. He had remembered both a guy and a girl from their crowd who had contracted HIV. And there was no telling who Marco had been with half the time. He got a clean bill of health and counted himself lucky to have escaped that whole situation relatively unscathed. It left him with a healthy cautiousness, though, regarding unprotected sex. He knew it wasn’t a harmless activity, especially in Miami.

It was Marco, though, who had helped him get the job at the Rose Bar at the Delano. Marco had a high-profile reputation on the beach as a big spender and a party animal and knew the manager of the hotel well. Adam considered quitting the job when he left Marco, but kept the position, partly out of spite and partly because he really liked the vibe of the bar. It wasn’t an all-night disco, at least, and the hotel was posh; he made good money there and they liked him, so he decided to stay on. He knew Marco would never come in there, anyway; it was too mellow for his tastes.

So, because of the mess he had found himself in with Marco, he reasoned that hanging out with people at the university was a more stable choice than hooking up with unreliable types from the South Beach party scene. It meant a much quieter life, but that was perfectly okay with him. He was determined to live his life as cleanly and as productively as he could now. The only thing that had been missing was someone reliable to share it with.

And then he had met Sean, who seemed to be everything he was looking for and everything he felt like he needed: someone kind and sensitive, who wasn’t a moocher but wanted to be a professional person in his own right, who had artistic interests, and who was incredibly and naturally sensual, despite being an ingénue. He ached over the situation now, with Sean back in Charlotte and being held pretty much against his will by his parents—which to him was baffling. How could a grown man fall prey to such a situation? He reasoned that Sean’s family must have a tight grip on him emotionally for him to even tolerate such crude insensitivity. He also realized that Sean’s family probably wouldn’t be as accepting of him, either—not like his own parents had been toward him. He knew he had to trust Sean to navigate that terrain, as he obviously knew it better than Adam did. It required patience from him, though, and that wasn’t easy to come by. He had to keep busy so he wouldn’t wallow in his thoughts and his anxiety about it.

One evening, while he was in the metal-sculpture lab at UM working out the details of one of his show pieces, his friend Angie, who was also a sculptor, mentioned that he seemed a little distant lately. She asked if he was okay. He acknowledged that he was lost in his thoughts, and then decided to confide in her as to why. She seemed sympathetic to him and wished him well with Sean; she said she hoped to meet him someday. Adam said, wistfully, that he hoped for the same.

IN THE meantime, Marisol could tell Adam was becoming a little depressed, even a little resentful, even though—and perhaps because—he was keeping himself so busy. He would talk about the situation with her, and she knew all the details, but she figured the inability to control the situation was really eating at her son. She knew him better than anyone else.

She confronted Adam. “Mijo, listen to me,” she began. “I see you moping around here, with your eyes all dark and serious, and then keeping yourself so busy you don’t allow yourself time to even think about him. You could be happy and relaxed right now, but you choose to be miserable.”

Adam shook his head. “It’s not that easy.”

“Of course it is easy. Choosing is easy.”

“No, Mom, it’s not. You don’t understand. Sean—he’s special. I feel like he was… like he was gifted to me, you know? I feel like I created this mess—like I created this part of him, like some kind of Frankenstein, I guess—and now I should protect him, or help him, and I can’t. I can’t do anything to help him.”

“Don’t you think he can take care of himself? You don’t think he made his own choices too?”

“Yeah, Mom, I think he made his own choice. But he wouldn’t have even thought about it, wouldn’t have even considered it, if I hadn’t thought, from the moment he walked in that room that night, that he was there for me. I made the moves on him, I initiated it. And now he might be in a shitload of trouble because of it. I feel responsible. And on top of all that, I can’t shake the feeling… the fear that it’s all bullshit, anyway—that he’s just stringing me along. That he’ll never come back. That he’ll never come clean about it to his family or to his girlfriend… that I’ll just be his dirty little secret. That I justimagined everything.” He cradled his head in his hands.

“Bah, mierda!”

Adam looked up, confused. “What?”

“You are loco, mijo. You might be right, he might have been your gift, but he had all the freedom in the world to choose or to not choose you back. You didn’t force him into anything. You are not responsible for that. You have to let that go. He will be okay. He will find a way back. And you know what? If he doesn’t, then you have to accept that your gift was a momentary gift, not a permanent one. He might have a big lesson for you, mijo. And I think you know what I think it is….”

Adam peered at his mother petulantly.

“Let go… and trust.”

THE Sunday evening before the last week of Sean’s counseling, Sean made a beautiful pot roast dinner with carrots, potatoes, green beans, and fresh french bread. He paired it with a smooth Cabernet Sauvignon and had a tangy, hard cheese and grapes to nibble on for dessert. After he cleaned up, he announced he was heading for his room.

As his father reclined in his La-Z-Boy, watching a news magazine show, June slipped into the master suite to change clothes. She walked into her huge walk-in closet and located the personal belongings they had confiscated from Sean: his computer and his phone. She eyed them cautiously before crouching down to open them and power them on.

SEAN locked the door to his room and sat on the edge of the bed, looking at himself in the mirror above the dresser. He missed Adam. He could feel a distance growing between them and he didn’t like it. He really needed to decide how he was going to handle the next few days of his life and how he could possibly transition to a life with Adam. He knew it was completely over with Lindsey; after she revealed her true self by calling his parents over for an “intervention” to keep him in law school—which would also keep her on the track to being a self-serving lawyer’s wife—breaking up with her would be easy. He would go home this weekend, sit down with her, and explain that he was no longer in love with her, that he would never marry her, and maybe, just for another dig at her, he’d tell her he had been fucking Shannon from the gym after all, just to seal the deal. He would let her live in the house because, well, he wasn’t planning on staying there anyway. He could pack up all of his stuff within a week, get a moving van, and… just drive south to Miami? That’s where things got dicey in his mind. He had no idea how to get past that point smoothly. Maybe there was no smooth way to do it… maybe it was just going to have to be a bumpy ride and he should just accept it, hold on tight, and get it over with?

In the meantime, he knew one thing: Adam soothed him. Even just thinking about him, conjuring up his scent, picturing his cool green eyes, imagining how his full lips felt on his lips, his skin, his cock… his mind always turned that direction when he thought about Adam. He was the most amazing lover Sean had ever had, hands down. And he knew it wasn’t just because it was a new experience, his first time with a man; it was because Adam was so attentive, sensual, and skilled in every way. Gender, or the idea of being attracted to one gender while shunning the other, was becoming a blurred image from the past; like Adam, the soul meant so much more to him now.

He sighed deeply as he felt himself grow hard. He lay back on the bed and shimmied off his pants. He grabbed himself with both hands and just held himself in his own grip for a moment, his eyes closed, picturing Adam naked and smiling his sly half smile. He remembered how he had so deftly fucked Adam in the shower and how Adam had enjoyed it so much. That was their last time together before he left. He began stroking himself slowly as he allowed his mind to remember every detail, every sensation, every smell, every taste….

One Response to “Last Excerpt from Awakenings, by Tara Larson”

  1. Judi P says:

    D: why aren’t my comments going through? D:

    loved the excerpts though. I hope to get this book soon. :)

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