New Frontiers by Ciku Gitonga

He got skittish when I called him beautiful. He would change the subject, talk over me about something mundane.

He would come on to me like this: he would stand in front of me and block the TV. He would ask me, sort of sly:

“Wanna go to the bedroom?”

I hated this, the way he came on to me. No romance, no chivalry. Like a little boy in a dark kitchen, glancing around as he slipped his hand into a jar. That was how he looked at me. 

But when the day came it was my idea. I wanted to try it. I’d done it before with other boys, but I was always stopping—it got too painful.

For some reason, here I was, asking him to help me try it again.

He looked down at me.

“Have you washed?”

Then he shrugged.

“Sure. Let’s do it.”

The pain was like nothing you would believe.

I turned my head, feeling tears leak down the side of my face. He was kissing them, his eyes very blue in the half shadow.

He stayed still for a while, waiting.

Then he started to move, and it was like, it was like—

And afterwards, I wanted to hold him and cover his eyelids with kisses. He squirmed under me. But I could tell he was happy.

He slept in minutes, and I watched him, his lashes so long they touched his cheeks.

Then I wandered his apartment because the pain made me restless. When I wiped down there, there was blood on the tissue.

I walked around his living room, touching things. I opened his fridge. I’d been hanging around here too much. I could tell that he was starting to get sick of me. Yesterday when I’d reached for his fried plantains, he’d moved the takeout box out of my reach and said, “You finished yours.”

Well, whatever. If he wanted to break up with me, he could.

For now, this place was better than the shitty attic room I was renting in Vanier.

His parents owned this apartment. He was always talking shit about it. Telling me about how the neighbours fought at 4am, how the sky view was blocked to the left by a high-rise.

I would watch his mouth move as he talked, as we smoked together on his balcony, lips pulled back into a sneer, skinny biceps tight against the sleeves of his polo.

I would think, Be quiet. Stop talking. Let me just look at you.

Biography: Ciku Gitonga is a fiction writer and columnist whose work has been published in literary magazines such as Flo and Cypress Press. She also writes an opinion column in the student newspaper of the University of Winnipeg.