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Z FOR Zen
I wake up in his arms, his big and strong arms. I keep my eyes closed and think of a name. Then, I open my eyes and realize the face doesn't match the name. Reality doesn't match the dream.
“Good morning, Parker,” he says to me in Japanese, before planting a kiss on my lips.
“Good morning, Tommy.”
He gets up from bed and I can't stop myself from admiring his naked body, also unable to not imagine Jarod in the same manner. I push that idea away. It's been four years since I left The Centre. He has probably forgot all about me by now. Why should I keep remembering him?
“Are you hungry?” he asks. His words are barely perceptive through the shower.
“Starving,” I reply,before deciding to get up and walk to the bathroom to join him. Best to focus on the present and leave the past behind.
The steam rises and the hot water takes away all the worrying from far away places.
Halfway through dinner that day, the phone rings. Tommy answers it. It is his house after all. He has encouraged me to do that to train my Japanese, but I don't feel comfortable doing it. He exchanges a few words in his basic English and passes the receiver to me.
“Daddy,” I whisper, as soon as I grab the receiver, surprised to hear his voice so early in the morning. He should be on the way to the office. He asks me how I'm doing and then, without waiting for my answer, tells me what is to happen.
I object, but my protest doesn't have any effect on him. His decision is made and the sooner I get used to it, the better.
He hangs up and I say goodbye to a dead line before returning the phone to Tommy.
“What is it?” he asks.
I can't hide my feelings from him, anymore than I could from Jarod. They both could see right through me. Just like Sydney.
No! Don't think of them now!
“Parker,” he insists, calm but firm.
“I have to leave,” I answer, looking away from him.
He grabs my hand. “When?”
“By the end of the week, the latest.”
“Where will you go?”
“Europe. First stop Berlin, then who the hell knows?”
“I'll go with you.”
I look at him and see that determination in his eyes matches the one in his voice. “Tommy... don't. You and I both know that as I can't stay here for as long as I wish. The same way you can't come with me. Our families already chose our paths.”
“Perhaps we should choose our own paths instead. Like Romeo and Juliet.”
“Not exactly the best example, Tommy. Besides, do you really think it's wise to go against your father's wishes?”
“No,” he admits after a while. “I feel so helpless, Parker. I wish there was something I could do.”
“Me too, but there isn't. You were the one who told me we shouldn't worry about the things which we cannot change.”
“I regret telling you that.”
“But you did. So, instead of worrying, why don't we just finish dinner and enjoy whatever time together we have left?” I smiled. “Agree?”
He nods. “With reluctance.”
The rest of the meal is spent in quietude and silence. We both knew our separation was inevitable. We just didn't expect for the inevitable to happen so soon.
I land in Frankfurt at seven a. m. after catching the red-eye from I think I'll rent a car and drive up to Berlin. Daddy can pay the tab. Tommy was asleep when I left. I tried but couldn't stay there any longer. Couldn't wait for the final day to say goodbye to him.
I left him a note telling him how I felt.
I don't mind saying goodbye to the people I care about, but I hate it when the people I care about say goodbye to me.
My mother said goodbye to me, just moments before she took her live.
Faith also said goodbye before she died.
I couldn't let Tommy say goodbye.
I promised myself I would never let anyone say goodbye to me again: I would simply walk away.
Author's Note: This is the end of a very long journey. When I first thought about writing this series I thought it would be a quick thing. Unfortunately, my early enthusiasm didn't last longer. Other projects showed up, other priorities, and I had to put this and other stories on hold and simply wait for either opportunity or, more honestly, a new wave of inspiration.
The Alphabet Series began in March, 2005 (eight years, Jarod's favorite number, by coincidence), was temporarily resumed in 2008 and then left on a corner of my mind – shelved, but not forgotten. Most, if not all of the ideas, had their story-lines defined right from the start. What I needed was an impulse to sit down and start putting on paper the stories I had floating around in my brain.
Every year, since 2008, when Summer arrived, I always made a promise to myself that I would either finish The Alphabet Series or Who Forgot To Pay The Rent? (another series, even earlier than this one). I was never able to fulfill that promise. Until now.
The Alphabet Series is now concluded and Who Forgot To Pay The Rent?will be following very shortly. To everyone who read these 26 stories, whether you didn't like them or not, I thank you for your time. I know I lost a lot on the way, which is understandable. Maybe we'll meet again someday.
Joel G. Gomes
September, 7th, 2013