[ Another semi-roleplay thingy written in chunks by the girlfriend and myself. ]


(Their bedroom.  Daren is sitting on Tanim’s side of the bed.  The drawer to the nightstand is open.  He holds something in his hands.)

[TANIM enters, pauses at the door frame; a picture of sorrow.]

Tanim: Daren, I asked you not to do that.

Daren (not looking up from what he’s holding): Why do you have this, Tan?

Tanim (softly): Does it matter?

Daren (still staring at the object): Yes. It matters.

Tanim: It’s only a reminder.

Daren glances up now, locking their eyes.

Daren: Of?

Tanim (holds his gaze for a moment and then looks down): Of what I used to be.

Daren: Why didn’t you tell me?

Tanim (sighs and leans the back of his head against the door frame): Because I knew you would react this way.

Daren: What way?

Tanim: As though it had no importance at all.  (gestures to the object) That was my life, Daren.

Daren’s gaze follows the gesture down to the thing in his hands. He sneers.

Daren: Yes, the life you strove to smother or starve from your body. Such importance.

Tanim: You wouldn’t understand. (Under his breath) Not that I expect you to try.

Daren rises, fingers clenched around the object, eyes narrowing.

Daren: Wouldn’t understand? Understand what? Desperation? Fear? The utter lack of control?

Tanim: I… I didn’t mean to imply that—

Daren: —that I don’t know what it’s like?  I have my own tokens, Tanim.  But I keep them here (places a hand over his heart).  I don’t store it in a box beside my bed and keep it hidden from my lover.

Tanim (getting defensive): You already hide enough from me.

Daren: What?

Tanim: You know what I mean.

Daren (sneering): Oh yes. I do. I know what you want. But what makes you think you have any right to it? Is there nothing so painful I may keep it to myself? (Takes a step forward) And remember, before you make such demands, what I could ask of you, and do not.

Tanim swallows, then raises his chin to meet the bluff with his own angered dare.

Tanim: Oh? And what would you ask?

Daren steps forward and walks Tanim back against the door frame.  Their faces are inches from one another.  Daren holds the object tightly in his fist and presses it roughly against Tanim’s chest.

Daren: Don’t.  Provoke.  Me.

Tanim raises to his full height, staring down into Daren’s eyes.

Tanim: Or what, love? You’ll strike me?

Daren (deadly calm): No. (Takes a step back.) I’ll leave.

Tanim goes completely still.

Tanim: You wouldn’t.

Daren: Don’t presume to know me so well.

Tanim: I’m the only one who knows you.

Daren holds up the small prescription bottle.  Emptied of pills long ago, the small shard of glass clangs against the sides of the bottle.

Daren: Get. Rid. Of this.

Tanim: I can’t.  You know I can’t.

Daren’s eyes narrow.

Daren (disgusted): Can’t? Is that your excuse for everything?

Daren snorts and tosses the bottle down, turning his back to Tanim.

Daren (softly): You refused to let me die, refused to let me sink into my own madness, and you dare say you can’t let go of this one piece of your past? Even this you cannot do for me? (Hand closes into a fist, as if still holding the bottle) …for us?

Tanim: The scars on your body.  (sneers) The… lattice work of abuse etched into your skin.

Daren (angrily): What of it?

Tanim: I let you have those.  I press my lips to them.  I see them every night and I can’t do a goddamn thing about them.

Daren (laughs bitterly): And am I to blame for those? Would you be better honored by my covering them up than by letting you, only you, see them? (Lower, now; threatening) You act as if you have no scars of your own. What do you think I see, when I look into your eyes? But I never ask. I never press, when you offer.

Tanim (trembling with anger, unable to steady his voice): Ask what?

Daren: Who they were. How many. How often. I know the why, yes, you’ll tell me that when you’re in your cups, but not when or how or where, and I have never asked!

Daren’s shout startles them both into silence.

Daren’s shout echoes through the loft.  Tanim kneels down and picks up the bottle.

Tanim: Why would you ever want to know?

Daren turns around to find Tanim kneeling.  He closes his eyes and breathes heavily, clenching his jaw.

Tanim (a whisper): You’re the only one that matters to me.  (Daren laughs harshly)  I… was a different man.  I only sought after things because I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting still and realizing I was surrounded by ruin.  Beloved…

Tanim reaches out a tentative hand towards Daren’s.  Daren’s eye twitches, but he doesn’t make any further movement.  His eyes are still closed.  A single tear leaks through the corner of his tightly shut eyes.

Daren: Don’t call me that.

Tanim (gently, voice shaking): It’s who you are.

Tanim rises slowly to his feet. Daren refuses to open his eyes. He is trembling now, visibly trying to hold himself still.

Tanim: Oh, love, no… (Tanim reaches up to wipe away the tear, thinks twice, and merely touches Daren’s cheek) Please. Darling. (He takes a small step forward, leaving enough distance between them to not threaten the other. Daren opens his eyes, stares at the floor.) You are my heart. My soul. Compared to you, this (he holds the bottle out) is nothing.

Tanim moves past Daren, opens the French door, and steps onto the dark balcony. Without another word he hurls the bottle over the side, turning so as not to watch its descent. He steps back inside, closes the door gently, and touches Daren’s shoulder. The man has his back to Tanim.

Tanim slowly wraps his arm around Daren’s thin waist.  At first, Daren doesn’t react, but then his body visibly shudders and he turns his head to the side.  He can see Tanim in his periphery.  Tanim speaks directly into his ear.

Tanim: I’ve always only ever been yours.

Daren (soft, voice hoarse and thick): If you can’t let go of your past, how do you expect me to ever let go of mine?

Tanim: You’re right. (nods)

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