I don't expect there's anybody still reading here, and that's probably for the best. I was going through my old documents, though, and found this start-of-a-story. I barely remember writing it, but when I re-read it I found myself thinking it didn't suck, and wondering why I'd never posted it. When I got to the end, I remembered: it was supposed to be long. It was going to be many chapters of these boys dealing with the fallout of one teeny tiny event, separately and together, like unraveling a mystery. But then I stopped.
The Kradam thing was weird, wasn't it? Strange looking back at it from years down the road. I don't even write anymore, but for a while I couldn't hold in all the stories I wanted to tell about these imaginary versions of real people I'd never met. Seems so crazy, and yet I miss it sometimes. And as much as I miss feeling creative and inspired the way I did back then, I think I miss the community even more.
So here's just the beginning of a story, dedicated to the ghost of Kradam, and all the awesome people who went crazy along with me for a little while.
Sometimes things just happen. Events flow into each other as they are meant to, without regard for concepts like good or bad, only unfolding as circumstance demands that they will before moving on to the next minute, the next hour, the next cause or reaction that will change everything all over again. And like blades of grass breaking through concrete to find the sunlight, ordinary miracles are happening daily all around us. Things that seem impossible, which have no business happening in our rational world, unfold as simply as turning pages in a book, and we don't even stop to realize their wonder.
And so as Kris stood on the step knocking on Adam's door that morning, he did not know that he was only minutes away from kissing him for the first time.
He was aware, somewhere in the deepest part of his mind, that he wanted to kiss Adam, but he had hardly acknowledged this fact to himself, let alone said it out loud. He was only coming by to see his friend one last time before he left for his tour. In his mind, the events of the coming hour would involve them chatting over a cold drink, maybe laughing and reminiscing, smiling and hugging a few times. They would promise to keep each other updated and then Kris would leave, going home to the apartment that still felt empty despite the fact that he had been living there alone for close to a year. He had not thought much further than that into how he would spend the day, but if he had he probably would've imagined it to involve grabbing some lunch, maybe working on a song later.
But he was unable to see the way the events of the past had led to this moment, as he waited for Adam to answer the door. He would not be able to place all of what was about to happen into context until after the fact. But he would eventually see that, really, it made perfect sense. It was exactly as it should be, and as inevitable as the high tide.
"Hey," Adam said, a wide grin spreading across his face as he opened the door. He took a step back, gesturing with one arm for Kris to enter. Once they were in the entryway with the world safely on the other side of the door, Adam wrapped his arms around Kris and gave him a squeezing hug.
"Good to see you," Kris said, his voice muffled in Adam's shoulder.
"You, too," Adam said, giving him one more tight squeeze before letting go and stepping back.
"Ready for another spin around the world?" Kris asked, grinning.
"The show is ready," Adam said. "I don't think I ever will be, though." He threw his hands up in exasperation. "You'd think with so many people working for me everything would get done, but I still feel like everything is madness. Do you mind hanging out with me in my room while I pack? I know it's not the greatest visit venue but I am running out of hours. I can still chat and stuff." He shrugged and somehow pouted and frowned simultaneously, giving an air of apology and regret.
"Sure," Kris said. "Sounds fine. Why are you packing, though?"
"I won't let anybody else do it. It's my inner control freak, I guess. My personal day-to-day stuff, I mean."
"So I guess you don't want me to offer to help?"
"No, don't worry about it," Adam said. "Come on." He smiled, putting his hand on Kris's lower back as he directed him toward the stairs. He let his hand linger there as they went up, and the touch was no more or less exciting for Kris than it had ever been before.
Which is to say that he liked the gentle contact and sense of connection it gave him. Adam's touch was always somehow warm even with fabric separating them, was always comforting in some basic way. It made Kris feel like he had been holding his breath but could now finally exhale, though if asked Kris would have been confused at the question and said of course he didn't have any kind of special reaction to Adam's touch.
Adam made another apologetic gesture - something between a shrug and a general flailing of his arms - when they reached his bedroom. There were suitcases, clothes, shoes and accessories draped and thrown over every available surface; the bed seemed to have been swallowed under layers of various black and glittery fabrics. Kris chuckled.
"Sorry," Adam said. "This is no way to entertain, I know..."
"Man, you're not entertaining me," Kris said, clapping Adam on the shoulder and leaving his hand there. "You know that. I'm just hanging out. I'll find a spot to squat, you do your thing."
"OK," Adam said, smiling and exhaling with a woosh. "Thanks."
"You sure you don't need help?"
Adam laughed. "You're too nice," he said. "As if you'd want to get involved in this mess. I see some bare carpet over there if you want to claim it before a stray jacket does."
Kris laughed in return, nodding as he let his hand slip down from Adam's shoulder and tiptoed around scattered pairs of boots and piles of pants that seemed to be haphazardly organized by shade to the spot on the floor Adam had indicated. He turned and leaned against the wall before sliding down, sitting Indian style next to the bed as Adam set to work trying to make sense of his wardrobe.
They chatted while Adam sorted and folded clothes, creating piles that seemed to mean something to him. Adam talked about his schedule, the craziness of his zigzag pattern across the country and, in a few months, Europe. He moaned about the difficulty of booking venues, how impossible it seemed to create a schedule that didn't have him running back and forth, a path that made any sense. They swapped stories from their previous tours, Kris laughing as he described playing a show in New Jersey one night, Texas the next, and then Delaware after that. He enjoyed touring, he said, but was grateful for the brief downtime he was enjoying now as he prepared to start work on his next album.
Kris watched Adam work as they talked, the way his hands moved, the tension seeming to radiate from his shoulders even as he laughed. He was wearing no makeup, his hair fluffy and hanging limp over his eyes. Too busy to worry about his look that day, Kris guessed. He didn't even have any rings on, no necklaces at all. Just a black t-shirt and dark grey jeans and bare feet. Kris took in all of these details and barely noticed the warmth building in his chest, not realizing that his smile was showing a hint of pain, that his forehead was furrowing.
Adam had barely sorted and piled half of the clothes that were covering his bed when he suddenly shifted focus and moved across the room to his bureau. It was long and low, with several large jewelry boxes on top and a large mirror hanging on the wall behind. He looked up at Kris in the mirror from time to time as the conversation continued to flow, moving on to the topic of mutual friends and who had seen whom the most recently. Adam was sorting through rings and necklaces, taking out every other piece and placing it to the side. Kris started playing a game with himself, trying to guess which pieces Adam would want to take and which he would leave. He was right most of the time.
Then Adam sighed, tugging roughly at two necklaces that had become tangled together. Kris watched for a moment, recognizing both pieces and making his guess at which Adam was trying to pack and which he was leaving, sure that if both were destined to stay or to go he would've left them jumbled and dealt with it later. Then Adam grumbled, his tugging becoming more aggravated, and Kris frowned before standing and walking across the room to him.
Kris reached out and took the messy tangle of black cord and silver chain from Adam, who gave it with a huff, frown lines creasing his forehead. Kris began working the knots patiently as Adam stood and watched, his face mellowing.
"I've got this," Kris said. "Keep going." He nodded his head toward the jewelry boxes.
"OK," Adam said, but he didn't move. He seemed frozen in place, staring at Kris's hands as he worked the knots apart with careful fingers. Finally the necklaces came apart, a silver chain dripping with glittering charms in his left hand, a simple black lace with a pewter pendant in his right. He held the black necklace out to Adam with a satisfied smile, laying the silver one on the pile of rejected pieces.
Adam blinked at him as he reached out and took the necklace, his eyes staying on Kris's as he placed it on the pile of jewelry to be packed. He took a step forward at the same moment that Kris did, and suddenly they were nearly chest to chest. One beat later Adam was leaning forward as Kris was tilting his face up, and in the next second their lips met.
It was soft, their mouths moving together only slightly and only for a moment. Long enough for Kris to register the hot and smooth feel of Adam's lips, like a tiny explosion going off somewhere in the back of his brain. It only lasted a second before both seemed to realize what was happening and broke away in the same instant.
They looked at each other in confusion, both brows furrowed in shock that bordered on panic. They searched each others' faces, each seeming to think the other had the answer, though neither knew the question. Kris ran the last three seconds over again in his mind and tried to figure out who had started it but found that he couldn't; it had just happened, initiated by both and neither. It was less like they had kissed than that they had been struck by lightning.
Kris opened his mouth to speak but no sound came out. Adam coughed and looked away before saying "OK," in a quiet voice. Kris took a step backward, unsure whether to stay or go, knowing he should say something but at a complete loss.
Adam fiddled with the jewelry for a brief moment, like he was going to get back to his packing and ignore what had just happened, and Kris considered moving back to his spot on the floor, as if resuming their earlier positions could move them back in time. But then Adam turned his head again, looking back at Kris with that same confused expression.
"Kris?" he said, a hundred questions Kris couldn't answer hanging in one word.
Kris shook his head. "I don't know," he said, as if the questions had been spoken out loud.
Adam nodded, then turned back to his work, going through his rings with hands that shook almost imperceptibly. Kris moved to sit on the edge of the bed and went back to watching Adam, though now it was in silence. Kris knew the longer the silence went on the harder it would be to break, but his mind struggled to think of anything that wasn't the lingering feeling of Adam's lips on his own.
"How's your mom?" he finally said, lamely, cringing even as the words came out. But maybe if he could just get Adam talking, they could move past the aberration that had just taken place and get back to where they'd been. Back to when things made sense.
"Good," Adam said, forced cheerfulness in his voice. He seemed relieved to have a topic, though, any topic, and went on to discuss how she was helping him with things, how she'd be handling his business while he was out of town. He laughed shakily when he said she had offered to pack for him, and how he was starting to think he should've just let her. When he ran out of things to say about his mom Adam asked Kris about his, and the conversation lightened as minutes separated them from whatever strange thing had just happened.
Kris forced himself to stop thinking about it and decided maybe they could just pretend it had never happened.
He was wrong, of course. It was both more and less significant than he imagined. More so in that it would change everything about his understanding of himself, his past and his relationship with Adam, and less so in that it was really not so shocking at all. It could not have been avoided, nor would it have been difficult to predict had Kris been paying attention to the signs on the way.
Time passed and the morning burned away, their conversation and postures growing less tense as they seemed to silently understand that each was putting the event behind them. Finally Adam had his bedroom almost looking like a habitable room again, two suitcases full and parked beside the door. He was still far from finished, but at least progress had been made.
He turned toward the bed and took one step, for a moment looking like he was going to move to sit beside Kris there, then seemed to think better of it and stood in the middle of the room. He heaved a deep sigh and wiped a hand across his forehead, moving his hair away from his eyes.
"I hate to do this," he said. "But I have a lunch meeting and I've got to make myself presentable for it."
"Oh," Kris said, standing. "Of course. Sorry, I didn't actually mean to stay this long, I know you're busy."
"I'm glad you did," Adam said, his voice sounding genuine while his face looked questioning.
Kris walked toward the door and Adam took a step back to clear the way, as if he were afraid to get too close. There was no gentle contact on the way down the stairs; Adam followed three steps behind Kris the entire way, and when they were again at the front door he continued to keep a careful distance. Kris fought to keep the frown off his face as he turned to look at Adam. All he could think was that he couldn't imagine leaving here without a hug, but Adam was acting like he would get an electric shock if they made contact.
Finally Kris stepped forward with a sigh, one arm extended in invitation. Adam was leaving, for God's sake. Adam nodded as he stepped into Kris's embrace, his arms wrapping around him in the same comfortable way they always did. Kris moved in closer and exhaled into the fabric of Adam's t-shirt.
They stood wrapped together in silence a long moment before Kris turned his head slightly to say "I'm going to miss you."
"You, too," Adam said, dropping his face into Kris's hair.
Kris took half a step back, tilting his face up so he could look at Adam. He meant to say goodbye and go; he just wanted to be looking at Adam when he said it, wanted his earnestness to be clear. But suddenly they were kissing again, and again Kris wasn't sure whether he'd started it or Adam had, couldn't remember the second between turning his head and their lips coming together. This difference this time was that when Kris realized what was happening, he didn't stop it.
Neither did Adam.
Kris felt more than heard the whine in the back of Adam's throat as their mouths opened, and then there was just a tease of tongue flicking against his lower lip. He shuddered, his heart losing its rhythm and stuttering in his chest as their mouths moved in sync, opening and closing together again and again before breaking apart for just a moment, then coming together again for a last soft, deliberate kiss.
Kris looked down, resting his forehead on Adam's collarbone, his breath coming in deep gulps. He could feel Adam's hands fisted on the back of his shirt, then they opened and fell away as Adam took a step back.
"I..." Kris started, but really had no idea what he wanted to say, he only felt like he should say something and that whatever it was would probably start with "I." His mind failed to fill in the blank, though, and he stopped there, mouth hanging open. When he looked up, Adam was looking down, shaking his head.
"Sorry," Kris said finally, knowing it was the wrong sentiment but unable to think of a single other word to say. Adam looked up, pained.
"Sorry?" He said.
"No, not sorry," Kris shook his head. "I don't know. I don't..." he shrugged. "Not sorry. I don't know." He wished he could stop repeating himself.
"OK, well," Adam said. "I guess... I'll call you tomorrow or something."
"Yeah. OK." They just stood there a long moment looking at each other, neither seeming able to put any words to what they were feeling but unwilling to leave it at that. Finally Kris gave up, nodded, and turned for the door.
As he made his way down the walk toward his car he was in a daze, seeing nothing as the early summer sun beat down on him. The sound of his car door slamming startled a bird out of a nearby bush; it flew away, not seeing Kris drop his forehead onto the steering wheel as he tried to control his breathing, not seeing Adam watching through the front window.
Kris woke up the next morning with his mind no clearer than it had been the day before. He had tried to think about what was going on with Adam, tried to understand the way the kisses seemed to just happen without any planning or conscious thought. In some ways the fact that he hadn't planned to kiss Adam and Adam seemed just as shocked was a comfort. At least there was nobody to blame.
Blame was the wrong word, he knew. Because it didn't feel bad. It didn't feel wrong.
And so he'd spent less time wondering why they'd kissed than he had trying to understand why he wasn't freaked out about it. Why it didn't feel like such a bad thing. The closest he'd come to an apt comparison was when his mind suddenly showed him a glass falling off a shelf during an earthquake; shattering because it had to. Nothing could stop it and nothing could put it back together. It just happened, because the laws of physics demanded it. Gravity can't be reasoned with, so what could there be to regret?
But why? Why now? Hadn't they done just fine as friends all along? Where were these unstoppable, imperative kisses coming from and where would they lead? The answer was there in his mind, all the clues waiting to be read. He just didn't realize it yet.
He was sitting, staring at the top of his kitchen table as he drank his coffee, when his phone beeped beside him. A text from Adam.
Kris sighed. He probably should've texted or called Adam last night and said he was OK. For all the time he'd spent rolling this over in his mind, not scared or upset, just thinking, he should've stopped to realize that Adam would be worried. He also should've stopped to wonder if Adam was OK.
He replied: Yeah, I'm OK. Are you?
I think so. Not freaking?
Not freaking. Guess we need to talk.