By: Magali Laitem
Song: Imagining You
Artist: Leah Andreone
(Picture taken from http://rushfieldbabylon.com/post/14855876931/traumatizing-television-mtvs-friend-zone-two)
The tv screen was on; the image flickering with the various colors as it followed the lives of certain individuals that only a handful of years earlier no one would have heard of beyond their close circle of friends and family. Not that this snippet into their lives that was being shared to the casual observers let anyone know who they truly were. Not that they would be remembered beyond maybe a select few who obsessively watched the show and for some reason known entirely to them, identified with the person on the screen.
"I don't understand how you can watch that crap..."
He didn't want to move from his comfortable position on the couch. He was in full on couch potato mode. It would have been better termed couch slug as he'd managed to wrap himself in a blanket from head to toe with an opening near his eyes and his nose so he could see the screen and breath without being impeded. Still, he couldn't help but at least turn his head to see his roommate giving the television a disparaging glare.
"... This is my day after having survived a 48-hour shift, which was highly intense and stressful - as you well know since you work at the hospital too. If I want to watch crap t.v. to give my poor brain a break... I'm goddamned entitled to it." He mumbled from the folds of the blanket and wondered if any of his words were actually decipherable.
At the snort that he garnered, maybe it was. Or maybe after several years of having been roommates, of dealing with early morning grumbles and of really, really late night shift monologues (that should have been dialogues but honestly Tristan had always been the quieter of the two and had claimed a long time ago that after a certain hour, his brain shut down... why he was becoming an ER nurse was beyond him really...) they just... seemed to understand each other’s even incomprehensible babble.
"Just be careful you still retain a brain after watching..." There was a shake of a head and then he was back to being alone with the television still blaring. The commercials were finding their own airtime and he snuggled back into his hand made burrow.
It wasn't so much that he loved the show. Or that it was mindless (which to a certain extent it was). More that he sort of admired the people on the show. It had to take a certain amount of guts to sign up for this. To decide one morning, god damn it... I’m going to take my fate in my own hands and share my innermost feelings not only to the person I’m head over heels with but at the same time... to the entire world as well.
He wondered how they did it. What was it that pushed them to make that final decision? Each episode he did end up catching made his insides tense in anticipation – watching the other party for every nuance that might lead him to know in advance whether this particular confession would be successful or not. The episode teased, laying the history of the pair of friends together so clearly. Following the brave bastard(ess) as they planned out the date, as they had their “best friend” come and be their “date coach” – utterly clueless that the date was entirely for them and that a confession was waiting for them. He died a bit every time the confession wasn’t successful... the mortification, humiliation, and hurt too easy to be imagined as if it was his very own.
Yet when the confession was successful, he soared where he was. Feeling high in a euphoria that really shouldn’t have been shared. And then for hours, days afterwards... he’d dare to imagine what it would be like for him. What if he too decided he was done being in the friend zone... what if he planned an extravagant date and caught Tristan unawares and actually followed through with his plan? What then?
He could see it play out perfectly. Where he would want to go, what he would say, do, wear...
Even Tristan’s facial expression as the shrewd mind hidden behind the deep brown eyes and too long blondish hair finally put all the puzzle pieces together. He could imagine it and it made him ache inside.
The best part was imagining what would come afterwards when the confession was successful. The little changes... the big changes. Knowing he would suddenly have the freedom to watch, to touch, to taste... That he no longer had to censor his own words or look away on the very few occasions Tristan came from the shared bathroom wrapped only in a towel.
Some times, when he was really sleep deprived or in a particularly optimistic mood (usually brought on by something Tristan had done that was... well... anyone with a healthy dose of realism would see as simply being thoughtful – like folding the socks - but he’d see it as having a deeper meaning that was just meant for him...), he’d actually gone as far as call their favorite restaurant for a reservation. He’d never cancelled the reservation...he just hadn’t always gone. He’d also never actually played out the rest of his well-rehearsed daydream when he did manage to make his way to the restaurant with Tristan in tow.
The confession always stayed sealed behind tired lips and any surprised curious questions thrown his way had been dodged with a quick: “We deserve to treat ourselves from time to time...”
Tristan never pushed for more making it easy to go back into hiding. The friend zone was comfortable. It was friendly. The rules and boundaries that had been carefully laid out since their first meeting had engrained that certain behaviors be followed and trying to break through that left a lot of uncertainties.
What if a hasty confession, worse, an unwanted confession left him without Tristan there by his side? What would he do then? He’d come to depend on being able to come home to his roommate’s sarcastic humor and awful cooking. He’d come to expect their apartment to have a certain smell, a certain look, a certain sound... What if Tristan left him? How could he ever keep things the same way?
So lost in his own thoughts, he felt himself tense and look wildly about when the couch cushion beneath him moved. It was hard to move, as wrapped up as he was. But Braydon finally managed, catching Tristan settling on the couch right next to his head, book still in hand.
“Share the space a bit, will you?” The grumble was soft, not at all as annoyed as it was trying to make itself sound.
“...sure...” He wriggled into a ball in his blanket. Unseeing, his eyes moved back to the television screen. He didn’t even know what MTV was playing anymore. He’d missed the ending. He’d never know if Sandy had managed to leave the friend zone... He glanced back at Tristan who’d opened his book and was reading quietly, ignoring the television and its annoyances in favor of his company. It made him smile, unsure. The familiar ache inside building, slowly.
And then, maybe a bit mad from sleep deprivation or bad television rotting his brain, Braydon stretched out and set his head square in Tristan’s lap. He ignored the hammering of his heart or the way Tristan tensed beneath him and grumbled in fake sleepiness...
“I’m sharing the space... and you’re my pillow.”
It wasn’t quite a confession. But he’d work on it.
Magali is still studying clinical psychology and dreaming of the day she’ll actually be out of school. In her random spurts of spare time, she enjoys drawing, being prodded into writing by Karla, Tim, and/or Laura, and reading. Magali can be contacted by email as she is still ridiculously old schooled and though has a twitter account... has lost the password and username ages ago and therefore never checks that particular area of her life. Email: email@example.com.