"No, don't stop. You're amazing." He's leaning his head back, eyes closed, hands resting on his knees with his palms facing the ceiling and it looks almost meditative.
"But you're amazing." He opens his eyes and looks at me like he's going to ask something, or maybe just like he doesn't understand something I'm doing. I can never tell the difference.
"I'm not-" I catch myself about to do something I'm not supposed to do. "Thank you."
He takes off the headphones and sets them on top of the piano. "How do you do that without being able to hear the music?" He pours two glasses of wine and hands one to me.
"Muscle memory, I guess. It's better when I can hear it, but acoustic pianos and flats don't exactly go well together.
"That's why you shouldn't live in a flat."
"Where should I live?" I drink half the glass of wine in one go, just because it's there.
"You should live with me."
"You don't have a piano."
"I could get one."
I drink the rest of my wine and hold the glass out for a refill. "We've only known each other for three weeks."
"It's almost like you're trying to tell me you don't want to live with me." Instead of filling my glass, he catches my wrist and pulls me onto the couch.
"It's almost like you're being serious. Stop it." I hold out my glass again.
"I am being serious." He pours more wine.
"No you're not."
"No. You're not. I know this is funny for you, but stop it."
"It's not funny for me. I'm serious. We should live together."
"Finn, don't." I down almost the whole glass in one go.
"Because people who've known each other for three weeks don't move in together." Because I'd mess it up. Because I mess everything up.
"Because it's crazy!" Because he'd get to know me and start to hate me. Because he'd leave me.
"Don't you want to?"
"It's not about whether or not I want to."
"That's the only thing it's about."
I finish my wine for a second time. "You aren't joking, are you?"
"I've never heard you say fuck before."
"What do you mean never? Like in the whole three weeks we've known each other?"
"Exactly. Never in that whole three week period have I ever heard you say fuck. Say it again."
"That'll do." He wraps his arms around me and there's something about the whole situation that feels unreal, like I could blink and everything would vanish. "Seriously though, I would be very happy if you moved in with me. I think you would be too."
"I have no idea how to even deal with this conversation. You hardly know me."
"I know enough."
"No. I...no. OK, let's say this isn't the world's most ridiculous idea. Do you actually want me to move in to your house? Me and all my stuff?"
"You could. Or...alright, I have another idea. You could pack a few suitcases and I'll do the same, then we could leave all this behind for a while and experiment with living together, but in far away places. Would that be less crazy?"
"That's still completely insane." There's some wine left in the bottle and I don't even bother with the glass this time.
"Because of everything else I've said in the last however many minutes we've been having this conversation and I'm still half expecting you to laugh at me for taking you seriously." I hand him the bottle.
"Please stop expecting that."
"Finn, I can't."
"You can't what?" He gives the bottle back to me.
"I can't process this. Any of it." My hands won't stop shaking.
"OK, so how about I go home and you process. Then you call me when you're ready and tell me what you want to do. Whatever that is, I promise to accept and respect it immediately and without question. How's that?"
"If we went, where would we go?"
"I don't know. Wherever we feel like going. Places with pianos, obviously."
"Oh my god, OK, stop. Just stop. Promise you're not going to start laughing at me for letting myself think you mean any of this?"
"I promise. And I'm going to go. And you're going to process. Call me when you're ready." He kisses me and I watch him walk away.
The door closes and I go out onto the balcony, barefoot but not really feeling the cold. There's a ghost of a memory hovering there, Brett sitting on the railing, drunk before sunrise on a summer morning. I shake my head and it's gone. He's gone and something snaps loose, gently but permanently. Finally.
Over the railing, I watch Finn walk out of the building. He stops and looks up, raises a hand, and starts walking again.
I go back inside for my phone.
He answers. "Hey."
I don't know what to say. "Finn, it's Cain."
YOU ARE READING
Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...