The Writer | The New Engagement

The Writer

By Sam Desmond

Was it possible to have more than one soulmate? Grant had said “we get different things from different people” and she certainly felt fulfilled differently by Patrick and Cristobal. The cool breeze off the bay and the playfully bright sun on the ferry ride over to Cherry Grove made the young, beautiful men on board gleeful with flirtations. 

How lovely to be young and gay, she thought. In a past life, she must’ve been a gay man, it only made sense why they understood her so well. And there was always an element of slutiness to her even if the actual number of people she slept with didn’t reflect the harlot spirit within. 

As the ferry docked, she saw Grant standing, that proud back of his with his chin turned slightly upward. A true Southern gentleman with this staple Ray Ban clubmasters to hide his judgment. She thought he’d wear linen as a Southerner but didn’t. 

She went to the lower level of the ferry to disembark. There was an overwhelming smell of coke amongst the crowd. Patrick had told her years ago when she first started to do coke that it had a gasoline smell to it, and she picked up on it now. How she missed how thin she was during the heyday of her coke usage. The ADD meds were no comparison, but with age came the need for a more reliable drug dealer.

She ran over to Grant, who offered her a big hug.

“How are you, sweetie?” he said in his Southern drawl, tamed by years of being a New Yorker.

“Ehhh, always good, but never at peace.”

“Isn’t that the way?”

“I don’t want it to be the way. We’re spending $350 a week on therapy to get it to stop being that way.”

“I know. But at least you’re working through it.”

They passed by a group of young, beautiful men, twinks and unicorns, as Grant would call them. 

“You must be having a blast surrounded by all these adventures,” she said, coyly.

“Oh no. I come out here to write. I don’t even go to the beach.”

“I admire how you’re a ‘cabin-in-the-woods’ writer, I can’t do it unless I’m happy and in the mood.”

“That’s youth, but I know you also don’t write about anything unless it’s truly important. You are fabulous at it, though.”

She loved getting compliments from Grant about her writing. He was the first person she ever sent a new piece to because she admired him so much as a writer. 

“The food is much better here than the Pines. But I’m staying there with Gordon and his husband. I have a makeshift bed in the laundry room.”

“No! Don’t tell me that, I want to hear how gay and fabulous and rich everyone is. You’re gay royalty.”

“Am I? I don’t feel that way.”

“Well, you’re certainly snobby enough.”

“I am not a snob.”

“What about Jose’s boyfriend?”

“What about him?”

“You constantly made fun of him being dumb because he

didn’t know politics.”

“Well, he knew hair…”


“Oh, he wasn’t going to make Jose happy! He was from Staten Island for goodness sake!”

“Well, as a Queens girl, I have to agree with that sentiment.”

They sat down at an ocean-side restaurant. Indoors, but with large, open windows that let in the breeze. 

The waitress, a local girl from the mainland town, probably a lacrosse star in the fall, came by with menus and a big smile.

“What imported beers do you have?” Grant asked, seriously.

“Well, we have Corona--”

Dead pan, Grant remarked, “No, honey, this is supposed to be a GAY bar…”

“It’s a summer place!” she offered to Grant to take the heat off the poor waitress.

“I’ll have a mojito,” Grant said, relieved, “Now I have an excuse to hit the liquor earlier in the day.”

“I’ll have an unsweetened iced tea,” she said. 

“Oh, cause of the meds?”

“Yeah, it’s not much fun with them, anyway.”

“Well, good for you, you’re really trying. Patrick must be happy. He adores you.”

“I know. He’s the reason I’m trying to get better.”

“Yes, I know how much you two love each other.”
“I just wish he were more understanding of what I needed from him right now. I know he says and thinks he means that ‘I want you to be healthy’ means just that, but all I hear is ‘I want you to be thin like you used to be.’”

“He doesn’t really seem like someone who says what he doesn’t mean.”

“That’s what I love about Cris. He always says I don’t need to lose weight, and I guess because he’s Latin, I can believe he likes bigger women?”

“What do I always say? Different things from different people. Davis and I are married, but we get fulfillment from other people. Maybe it’s different for straight people. Maybe you don’t ever really understand what an ‘open marriage’ really is.”

“I guess. I just wish I could combine them.”

“See? There’s your problem, you’re not letting people be people, you have to take the whole person. It’s like a character, they can’t all be everything or there’s no story.”

She sighed and stared at her phone.

“Oh God, you’re not still sending those desperate texts to Cris about getting him to tell you you’re pretty, are you?”

She stared at Grant with a look between shame and exasperation.

“Sweetie, nothing makes a dick more flaccid than insecurity,” he took a sip of his drink, “Maybe using too many emojis.”

“Oh, like that young guy you started talking to?”

“Yeah, I can’t do that. He was literally texting me every 5 minutes. With nothing. NOTHING. Just a string of emojis, like desperate hieroglyhpics.”

“Still dreaming of Brandon?”
“Always, and I always will pine for him.”

“Did you get that gig for him at the guest writer at The New Yorker?”


“You’re like his fairy godfather,” she thought about the statement she made and added, “that wasn’t a homophobic categorization.”

Grant pursed his lips and rolled his eyes, “Sweetie, fairy is kind and godfather makes me feel like a daddy, so we’re good.”

“Is that what it is about Brandon, why you continue to get him opportunities even though he hasn’t shown you any romantic interest? You get to feel like Daddy to him”

Grant pondered for a second, “I suppose. I hug my pillow at night and pretend it’s him.”

“That is so beautifully tragic.”

“I’m good, I know.”

“What is it about Brandon? I know he’s good-looking, but you are just so stuck on him.”

“He’s masculine and feminine at the same time. He’s so broken. He’s so ambitious. He’s so wanting of more renown. And that just drives me to help him.”

“But you never feel taken advantage of?”

“I feel honored to be asked.”

“Do you think there’s something wrong with me that I can’t be in the ‘giving’ position?”

“Oh my God, if this is you trying to figure out if you’re a top or a bottom—”

“No, no. I just feel like I constantly need men, more men, to take care of my insecurities and even when they do, I’m not happy.”

“Well, that’s what an insecurity is. It has to with you. Not them. My insecurity is getting older without someone to take care of me. Davis is twenty years older than I am. He’s going to die and then I won’t have anyone.”
“So, you’re hoping Brandon will take care of you?”

“Maybe. Or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment and unrequited love makes me write. Who knows?”

“They do both make me want to write.”

“See? That’s all you need.”

“It just doesn’t feel right to love both of them.”

“What level of privilege is this we’re discussing now?”

“I know, I just feel like I have to choose between them at some point.”

“That’s convention talking. You do what you want.”

“Part of me wants Cris to ask me to leave Patrick.”

“Do you want to leave Patrick?”

“No, I just want Cris to ask.”

“That kinda makes you a cunt.”

She laughed, “I know. It works. Patrick is my primary and since Cris needs lots of solitude, he’s fine with only seeing me once a month or so.”

“And he puts up with all your texts.”

“Yes,” she sat back, “I am just being greedy, aren’t I?”

“Yes, but you also love them both. And they both love you.”

“But you can love Brandon without getting love back?”

“He does give me love back. A love that works for me. And that’s what’s important.”

She sat back and looked out at the ocean.

Sam Desmond lives in bucolic Bayport, New York with her husband and menagerie of dogs and cats where she is a community reporter for the Suffolk County News and Long Island Advance. Her short fiction has been published in multiple literary magazines. Prior to her career as a journalist, she had twelve years of experience as a corporate immigration legal writer for top 100 law firms.

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Flash Fiction Contest
On May 1st, we announced the winners of our Flash Fiction Contest: Thomas Garcia (1st), Rick Krizman (2nd), and Rios de la Luz (3rd). Read more.

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It is with great pleasure that we announce the winner of The James Baldwin Literature Prize of $1,000 to Hafsa Musa. Read more.

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