Slight TW for body image issues and mentions of disordered eating.
"I like it! It makes your arms look good." This was the first time Awsten hadn't said anything. The lack of commentary struck Geoff as odd but he didn't press on the subject. Instead, he looked at his reflection. The black and white striped tank top did accent his excellent arms but it was at a price. It made him appear wider. Geoff wasn't always on the slimmer side. During his teen years, he had a dependency on food. Whenever he was feeling low, it was always there to comfort them.
"What do you think, Awsten?" He'd never really talked about it to anyone. He gained weight very quickly; seventy five pounds in the span of a year. Geoff's mother died shortly afterwards. Geoff was feeling awful but this time, it was different. Instead of feeling everything intensely, he felt nothing at all. He was numb. In retrospect, he had realized that he was struggling with depression. He never left the house anymore. He sleeping became irregular and his eating became almost non-existent. This was a pain that food couldn't fix. Geoff lost a hundred and five pounds in just under nine months.
"I don't like stripes." When he left the house the first time after everything, he saw a stripped shirt in a window shop. Black and white thick stripes. The shirt made him think of his mother. She was a heavier woman that didn't care very much to follow the rules of fashion. More often than not, she would wear a stripped pattern. She wore all stripes of all colors but her favorite shirt was always one that featured black and white. Geoff bought the shirt instantly. He had wanted to be buried with it but life seemed to have other plans.
"I'm getting it." He wasn't sure what would've happened with all of his old stuff. His chest pained thinking that his extensive video game collection might not be around anymore or that his gaming computer might be outdated. He hadn't reached out to any of his family yet. Geoff was more worried about the state of his original striped shirt. As nice as the one that was on him right now, it wasn't the one he wanted. It was something he was settling with, something Geoff did far too often. He returned to the change room unaware of the fact that neither of them commented on his jeans, despite the rips in the knees. He figured he was going to get them anyways.
"It's kind of funny that you're named Awsten and you like, live in Texas." Chloe was still sort of new to Houston. She was born in California but grew up in suburban Ohio. It was only after she had finished studying film that she moved to Texas. She bounced around at first, checking out a couple of cities. San Antonio. Dallas. Austin. Chloe settled in Houston somehow when she obtained a fox. It had to be put down the previous year but she kept the animal close to her at all times with a memorial tattoo on one of her thighs.
"Wow, that's original." It was a comment Awsten had heard all too frequently as a child and in his teen years. It was actually part of the reason he had changed the spelling of his name. He couldn't stand the comparison any longer although he remembered a time when he adored it. As a child, he was elated when people would mention it. He would tell anyone that would listen that his name was Austin because one day, he would be so much bigger than Texas. For a while, he thought he would be. He didn't think about it much anymore. "Never heard that one before."
"Hey, be glad you didn't get named Dallas or something." Chloe thought back to her college roommate, an obnoxious girl from Chicago named Dallas. Although she was kind of cute, the girl had the personality of a dried lemon. "Everyone named Dallas kind of sucks." Awsten thought back to a friend he had in high school briefly; a boy named Dallas. The two of them would spend time in his room playing their guitars together. The relationship was cut short when Awsten started imagining what it would be like to kiss him. The following year, Dallas' band got signed and they left for a tour. Awsten never saw or heard from him again.
"Don't you have like work to do? People to help?" Awsten was tired of her prescence and had been for far too long. Being around other people drained Awsten's energy very quickly but Chloe seemed to be more draining than most people. Between work and seeing his friends, Awsten was always low on emotional energy. He used to love to come home and just recharge.
"I am working." Awsten would reach for his guitar and strum together another song no one would ever hear. It was a great situation until Geoff came into his life. He was unable to recharge fully with another person with him every moment he was home. Awsten was kind of hoping that Geoff's work schedule would be a bit different than his. He was really missing his guitar, even if it had only been a few days.
"I really like that." Awsten noticed Geoff before Chloe this time. She was in the process of peering towards the front where she was supposed to be standing. Geoff felt like he was in one of those movie scenes where the unpopular girl gets a makeover and becomes popular. He wasn't sure he liked the attention all too much. "It flatters you as much as cooler ones." The pale pink button up featured a series of multicolored flowers. It fit Geoff perfectly, so in Geoff's mind it was way too small. He would've looked the shirt a lot better if it was a size or two larger. He didn't think of himself as insecure but he definitely had areas of his body that he didn't enjoy. His stomach was one of those places.
"I think it's too small." Geoff noticed that the shirt stopped an inch or after his torso did. He wanted to raise his hands in the air to see if the shirt would rise up or not. He didn't want the confused questioning eyes from the two people silently judging him so he stayed with his hands at his sides. "Is it supposed to be this small?"
"Is it tight? I can grab it in the next size up if you want." Chloe still had pair of pants on her legs. Awsten wondered if she was always this incompetent or if he was just that lucky. When Geoff had originally handed her the pair of pants, Awsten felt a sense of relief. He would finally be able to spend a few moments alone. Unfortunately, Chloe had chosen to stick around.
"It's fitted." Awsten was trying his best to be patient with the other boy but he was pretty sure when Geoff died that he must've hit the ground pretty hard. The other boy knew absolutely nothing about some of the most basic things. He didn't know how to turn a kettle on or navigate around the city. The clothing thing could have been dismissed if it was an isolated incident although it clearly wasn't. "It's supposed to fit like that. It's like the masculine version of a form fitting dress." Geoff didn't think he had the body for a form fitting piece but he didn't vocalize the thoughts. Geoff didn't respond to the explanation but instead went back to where he came from to get the god awful piece of clothing off his body.
"You should really grab those pants in the right size." Awsten was the one to break the silence this time. He was expecting her to get up and leave. What he wasn't expecting was for her to radio in the brand, color and size for another employee to pick up for her. Awsten shot the girl a more than questionable look. She must've been working here pretty long to get away with stuff like that.
"I can't leave my section." Awsten wouldn't have known something like that. He had never worked a retail job before. "I have to stay here and help customers. Someone will bring it to us." Chloe sensed that she wasn't wanted in that moment but didn't move. She refused to give Awsten the satisfaction. She had tried to walk into her encounter with the two of them remaining as neutral as possible but there was something about Awsten that got under her skin.
"You're doing a great job at helping." He wasn't serious in the slightest and it was detectable in his tone. She had gone against him on almost every article of clothing Geoff had come out in, without any regard as to who had chosen it. It infuriated Awsten. "Really. I mean it. Honestly, I don't know what we would do without you."
"You just don't like that you aren't the one in control here." Chloe's voice spoke with a certainty that Awsten couldn't be bothered to even attempt to combat. Chloe was as observant as Awsten was obsessed with control. "You can't stand that he's in control and that there's someone else here to prompt him to think for himself." Chloe was starting to feel the chill of the air conditioning in her bones. She was starting to regret not wearing the white sweater she considered from this morning. Geoff emerged before Awsten could think of a decent reply to the allegation.
- - - - - - - - - -
Special thanks to @PorpentinaPotter for reading through GOC and helping me out with the editing process.
YOU ARE READING
Game Over. Continue? // gawstenScience Fiction
Geoff dies. His tombstone is inscribed with "Game Over. Continue?" and a slot for coins. Awsten finds it, puts in a coin and Geoff bursts out of the grave. #1 in gawsten 1/12/19 #12 in geoff wigington 11/01/18 #13 in awsten knight 11/01/18 #16 in wa...