My Boyfriend, His Lover, and Me

By

We were out to dinner at a fancy Mediterranean restaurant when my boyfriend Diego told me about his famous lover.

At the risk of sounding desperate, Diego was not technically my “boyfriend,” though we’d seen each other every single day for the previous two months, from our first date at the gay bar a block from my old apartment in Sunset Park, till the day before, when he helped me move to Bed-Stuy, on the other end of Brooklyn. If there were a word for the phase in a relationship between when you begin dating and start using the more-serious terminology—boyfriend, partner, situation-ship—that is what we were.

But technically, Diego’s lover was not his “lover” either, because they did not have sex. “We’re just affectionate,” Diego clarified. I assume this generous bit of insight into their arrangement was in response to the dazed look in my eyes, since I hadn’t yet said a word.

Up until that second, the two of us only having enough money to split an appetizer portion of baba ganoush had seemed kind of romantic. We were both in our mid-twenties. Struggling artists (him: a painter, me: a writer). Trying to make it in New York. Our hunger had the potential to be a charming anecdote later, when we made it far enough in our respective careers that we could look back and laugh, as if it were something that belonged to other people in faraway lives. Now, though, hearing his lover-but-not-quite-lover’s name, our future together, and the charm that came with it, vanished.

You see, his lover was also an artist. One who had, by any measure, made it. In his mid-fifties, he was one of those gay celebrities who is somehow good at everything, with a career spanning from Broadway to television and film. His lover was so famous that when Diego told me his name (I’ll call him C), my first thought was, Oh no, I love that guy.

Not, Oh no, my boyfriend, who I think I love, is dating someone else.

But, Oh no, I love my boyfriend’s lover.

C might as well have been Rihanna, he was so universally beloved. I wasn’t even sure if I was allowed to be mad. I mean, it’s Rihanna. Of course I couldn’t ask Diego to break it off. It’s C, that one famous gay guy everyone likes, a fact about him which, coupled with his whiteness, felt like undeniable proof of his greed. He had all those fans, all that money. He probably owned an island somewhere, or at least a Segway. Did he really need to have my boyfriend, too?

What happened, Diego explained, is that he started seeing me the same week he started seeing him. He figured he’d keep going on dates with the two of us while he decided who he liked more. After getting to know each of us, it turned out he liked both.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner,” Diego said, staring into our plate of fifteen-dollar mashed eggplant.

I didn’t know how to respond. Was I supposed to accept the apology? Or did the situation call for me to react like a crazy woman in a telenovela, throw my drink in his face and call him a maldito sin vergüenza? I took a long sip of water and told myself to be chill. To think before I did something I’d regret.

But the more I thought about it, the less what he was telling me made sense. Just the night before, we’d been lying in my bed after a second round of sex.

“I’ve never been with anyone like you,” he’d said as he reached for our gold chains coiled together on my nightstand, where we’d flung them because the crosses kept getting tangled while he was on top of me. “With every other Latin guy I’ve dated there’s been something, I don’t know, missing, but this feels so right.”

I understood him completely. I’d dated other Latinx men, but there was always something off about those relationships. Either they felt a little too orchestrated (“I love your brown body against mine,” a man told me once on our second date, like we were a matching skirt and blouse), or there were other strange power dynamics that put me on edge. When I dated Latinx men who didn’t speak Spanish or had fairer complexions, I got the feeling they were using me to prove something about their own identities, as if they were playing Seven Degrees of Separation from Sofia Vergara and I was a critical link. Then, with Latinx men who were recent immigrants to the United States, I was too American. I may have been born in Miami and spent every summer of my childhood with family in Nicaragua, but I was basically a gringo to them.

I suppose the real issue was with trying to connect under the problematic umbrella of “Latinidad,” an overly broad concept that pretends hundreds of millions of people across race and class are the same simply because we have roots in nations that were conquered. Growing up in the US as the child of a Central American woman, with hardly any other Nicaraguan kids in sight, identifying as Latinx helped me find a place among children who, if had nothing else in common with me, also watched Telemundo; in that way the flawed label helped me feel a little less alone. As an adult, I discovered the anti-Black and anti-Indigenous history of Latinidad and let it go, yet my desire to find a partner who could relate to being a diaspora kid remained.

Diego had a similar experience to mine. Though he was born in Mexico, he spent most of his life in Texas as a DACA recipient. Both of us were raised on reggaeton, Sábado Gigante, and Takis. Perhaps it was coming-of-age as the children of Spanish-speaking immigrants, if not “Latinidad,” that bonded me to him. Whatever it was, we were, like he said, oddly right together. Like mango slices and salt, like our love story was global. Our parent’s migrations had ended with me sitting across a table from him in Brooklyn, surrounded by people speaking Turkish, the two of us talking about some pasty white dude who couldn’t stay in his lane.

“I’m so confused,” I finally found the nerve to say. “Are you poly?” There were a thousand other questions racing through my mind, but finding out whether he planned on ever choosing between me or C seemed most urgent.

“No. I’m not really into polyamory.”

“Well, are you into me?” was my second question. It felt stupid to ask. Of course he was. Though, actually, I wasn’t so sure. C was Rihanna and I couldn’t even afford an entrée.

“Yes,” he said, squeezing my hand. “I like you. A lot.”

My third question was going to be: When did you even have time to see someone else? We’ve been together every single day for the last two months! The fourth: Were you with him on days you were with me? Did you leave my bed to go off and be “affectionate” with him? The fifth: What do you mean by “affectionate?” Were we not that? What about that time we got stoned and watched Los Espookys until 3 a.m., and I held you as you slept, adjusting my body to your breaths, and when I woke up you were holding me? Or that day I let myself text you that I missed you despite how corny it felt to type those words out, and you showed up to my job with a paper bag of really bad flan from the deli? Do you know that when I told my coworkers you were coming I said you were my boyfriend, because what else was I supposed to call you, my “guy-I-see-every-day-who-brings-me-flan?” And, underlying all those questions was the one I could have never brought myself to ask: Why don’t you just pick me?

I swallowed them all. I knew what I needed to know: he was here with me now. He planned on choosing one of us eventually. He was holding my hand.

Sure, C was Rihanna, but he was almost twice Diego’s age, and they didn’t have all those things in common we did. They didn’t even have sex, whereas when we fucked it was as if our bodies were designed for each other. We understood, in our DNA, where to lick, press, squeeze, kiss, which trails to follow. We were Rottweilers. They were what? “Affectionate.” Oh, please.

C, I thought, would be another charming anecdote later, just like these years as starving artists. A decade from now, I’d turn over to Diego in bed and whisper, “Remember when you chose me over Rihanna?” We’d laugh, then I’d get up and make us coffee.

I am a memoirist. There is nothing I want more than a happy ending. Whenever an obstacle presents itself in my life, I chalk it up to necessary drama that will make the resolution all the more sweeter.

“Okay,” I said, and pushed our dinner over to him so he could have the rest.

“Okay?” he said.

“Just, please, don’t tell him about me.” I didn’t understand then why I needed the discretion, though I do now. If C knew we were in competition, he might try to woo Diego with all the resources I didn’t have. This way, there’d be a modicum of fairness.

“Okay,” he agreed.

That would have been a horrifying enough place to end the night, except, on the train to my apartment, C joined us for the ride. His smug face was plastered on ads all along the train car, promotion for his latest project. The cameo was too coincidental, too hellish; I wouldn’t believe it if I read it in a story, yet there he was, literally glowing in the overhead lights. Diego looked at me like I was a stray kitten he was deciding whether to feed, while I tried to act unbothered. By some impossible force of will, my heart did not leap out of my chest, my cheeks did not redden. I might’ve even smiled.

Don’t, I wanted to tell him. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not famous, but I’m great. I make you laugh. I make you cum. You said yourself that we’re right. Don’t pity me. Pick me.

 

Two months before that night at the restaurant, I met Diego on Grindr. I’d only been in New York a few weeks and was working as a cashier at a Mexican restaurant. When I wasn’t behind a counter up-charging guac, I was at home, scrolling through dating apps: like my profile said, “Looking.” Diego’s photo caught my eye. He reminded me of the cholos I knew from Southern California, where I’d lived for the previous three years. In his grainy mirror selfie, only the neck of his plaid shirt was buttoned. His jet black hair was slicked back in a greaser-style, one tendril dangling over his forehead. On his face, he wore a smile I would come to know well; more of a smirk really, his lips raised higher on one side, like he was keeping a good secret.

We messaged back and forth a bit. It was a little past midnight on a Thursday, but he wanted to get a drink. There’s a gay bar a block from my apartment, I replied. Xstasy. Had he heard of it?

Yeah, he wrote back. I love the vibe there.

With those words I was instantly smitten. When I first moved to the city, the queer white woman I was subletting a room from told me there was a gay bar nearby, but that it was “sketchy.” Naturally, it was the first place I visited after unpacking. There was nothing particularly seedy about it. It was a predominantly Latinx bar that attracted a fun crowd of queer construction workers. On slow summer afternoons, the bartender described Stephen King novels to me between rounds of cheap drinks. I’d been suggesting Xstasy to dates as a litmus test since I discovered it. If they said no and recommended we go to one of the whiter gay bars in Hell’s Kitchen, I knew we weren’t a match.

That night, I put on a pair of blue jeans and a tight tank top and walked over. Diego lived a train ride away so I arrived first. While I waited, I made small-talk with the bartender, who bemoaned that the current season of RuPaul’s Drag Race would soon be over, meaning the regulars that came in on Thursdays—me included—would likely disappear. I ordered a shot.

To RuPaul.

“What are you gonna do on Thursdays now?” he asked.

I shrugged. “I’m seeing this guy tonight. Maybe I’ll fall in love.”

He poured me another round of tequila.

“See you next Thursday,” he teased.

By the time Diego showed up, I was buzzed enough to tell him he looked dorky in his khaki pants and V-neck sweater. This costume was so different from the character I’d formed of him based on his pictures, but he was cute nonetheless.

“Shut up!” He shot me that I-have-a-secret smirk. I wonder now if he’d come from a date with C, at a Broadway show or an art gallery, somewhere he had to dress up for. “I didn’t know what you were going to wear,” he said.

Our conversation slipped in and out of Spanish and English. We talked about Drag Race, pet chickens we had as kids, his graduate art school program, all the while drifting closer and closer to each other. When there was only an inch left between us, we moved over to the small dance floor, the size of a bodega, where a DJ spun house music feverishly though we were the only ones there. He pushed me into a dark corner, up against a wall. A stream of smoke from a fog machine curled by our feet like a cat’s tail. His mouth was cold and sweet from the rum and cokes we’d been drinking. I held his face close to mine, and for a few seconds we didn’t kiss exactly, though our lips were pressed. It was more like we were breathing into each other.

“¿Quieres pasar la noche conmigo?he asked. Wanna come over?

Outside, we walked toward the 25th street R train with our fingers interlocked. At that time of night, the trains came further and further apart, so we took our time, stopping every few steps to make out, or laugh about something that probably wasn’t that funny. There was an abandoned brownstone on the way to the station with a small garden out front that I really loved. It was just a little patch of wild grass, guarded by a gnome, but for some reason it reminded me of my hometown in Florida. We looked into it for a couple of minutes. I let myself indulge in a fantasy of what it’d be like to fix the place up, live in it with him or someone like him, when suddenly Diego turned to me and asked, “Do you know what’s the worst thing?”

“No, what’s the worst thing?” I grinned.

“When you get to the station just as the train is taking off. And you’re like standing there thinking, Fuck, if I’d only left like thirty seconds sooner, I would have caught it. Especially this late, when you have to wait twenty minutes for the next one.”

“Yeah, I hate that.”

“It’s the worst.”

“Let’s catch it then,” I said, grabbing his hand, and we took off running.

 

A few weeks after Diego told me about their relationship, C made another cameo. He was an A-list celebrity at my newest job: taking reservations for a luxury restaurant group in Soho. I’d quit the Mexican restaurant because my new manager promised I would have a lot of down time that I could use to work on writing, though I mostly spent it brooding. The job consisted of taking guest’s calls; depending on how ridiculous their request was (“I need a table for fifteen in five minutes!”), I would look up their phone number in our database of regular diners and determine whether we could accommodate them.

The database contained thousands of profiles. On a whim one day, I typed C’s name in. He popped up right away. To be on the A-list, actually, was the worst-best thing you could be. Our guests were either unrated (they only dined with us a few times), or rated from A (relatively famous/spent a lot of money) to triple A (extremely famous/probably wouldn’t even deign to touch money). A-listers didn’t really get anything special. Just my boyfriend.

Next to C’s name was his phone number, and next to my first impulse to look him up was this psychotic idea: Call him.

I didn’t, but it became a favorite masochistic hobby of mine to pass the time wondering how a conversation between the two of us might go.

Hey, it’s Edgar, I would start. You don’t know me, but I know you. We have someone in common: Diego. We’re both kind of dating him. Before you hang up, I know this is crazy, I swear I do. But please, hear me out. How can I put this to you so you’ll understand?

Dating is so hard for gay men, right? Well, it’s a little harder when you’re Latinx. There’s a lot of culturally specific shame and machismo and religious and family baggage we carry, and it’s just so much easier to be with other Latinx men who understand. But more than that trauma crap, I like Diego. So much. And it’s weird, but I think my mom would like him. We get each other’s references, we speak the same languages, and the sex we have, phew, girl, all of it is just so good. That means something to him, I know it does, or he would have left me already.

Okay, you guys are “affectionate,” but come on. You have so much! You have money. You’re a celebrity. You’ll find someone else. I know it’s up to him to choose, but it’s not really a fair match, is it? You can introduce him to cool people, open doors for him in the art world I can’t. I know he should pick you. I’m actually a huge fan. But you’re also like a famous white guy and can’t you see how cliché this is, like what the fuck kind of Amor Prohibido bullshit are you trying to pull? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s exactly the point! Y’all look crazy together. Like, the idea of him introducing you to his mom is wild. She would laugh if she didn’t kill you first. You’re not gonna end up with him! So how about you save both of us some time and stay away from my man, you little—

Around this point in the fantasy, my coworkers would notice me silently fuming. Before they got too annoyed with me for ignoring our endless call queue, I’d close out C’s profile and go back to work: helping rich people get whatever they wanted, as long as they mattered enough.

 

To be clear: I have broken up with men for way less than having some dude on the side. This one guy because he had a strange smell no one else seemed to notice, which I took as a warning from my primal animal instincts that we weren’t compatible. Another man because he started wearing a weird Halloween store goth-costume choker. He put it on for Halloween, but then he liked it so much he kept it on for weeks after. Rather than ask him to change his style for me, I suggested we see other people. What I’m saying is I won’t settle for just anyone. Diego, though. He could have worn a zoot suit and smelled like Vienna sausages and I would have loved him the same.

I didn’t want to fall in love with him, not while he was still deciding between us, but one night, against my better judgment, it just happened.

That night, he’d invited me to his apartment for dinner. We were holed up in his tiny kitchen; him cutting up onions for ceviche, me drinking glass after glass of Two Buck Chuck. Juan Luis Guerra played on my phone. “Burbujas de Amor,” a song with corny lyrics that had become a private joke to us. It was about a man who wanted to be a fish, so he could blow bubbles on a woman’s “tank.”

“You don’t want help?” I’d asked him.

“Don’t worry about it.” He smiled, keeping his eyes on the vegetables simmering on the stove. “I like cooking for you.”

I nuzzled the back of his neck with my nose and sang along: “Quisiera ser un pez…”

As I held him, I felt both dizzy and giddy thinking about how this domestic scene looked nothing like the heteronormative relationship models I’d been brought up with. He was the top. I was the bottom. I was supposed to be making him dinner, and he was supposed to be laying on the couch, nursing a beer. Yet here the two of us were, creating something new.

After dinner, we went out for a walk. It was a weekend night, nearing the end of summer, and everyone was out enjoying the last bits of warmth before the sidewalks would be covered in snow. Reggeaton and Banda mingled in the breeze as we strolled through his neighborhood. On our way to the bodega for paletas, we passed a group of older women drinking in the small patch of concrete in front of their apartment New Yorkers call “yards.” They slurred their words as they waxed on about their lazy, good-for-nothing husbands.

“Mi panzón se queda sentado en frente de la tele todo el maldito día!” one howled to the others. Her friends nodded their heads solemnly. “Pero lo amo!” My fat husband sits at home watching TV all day, but I love him!

Diego and I both cracked up. They sounded exactly like our tías at family parties. Had he been anyone else, I might have felt self-conscious about laughing. I would have been annoyed if a non-Latinx guy thought they were funny before I got the chance to translate (was he laughing at them?), annoyed that I would have had to translate in the first place, which would invariably make their conversation lose some of its magic. But Diego just got it. No need to explain.

I wrapped my arm around his waist and patted his belly as we walked on.

“Mi panzón,” I whispered. The two of us giggled.

“Mi panzón es un pinche boludo,” he picked up after me, mimicking their high-pitched, drunken voices, then kissed my forehead. “Pero lo amo. Ay dios, lo amo!”

I knew, right then, that I would ride this out wherever it went.

 

Not long after that night, the universe sent good news and bad news.

The bad news was that Diego’s roommates, a straight couple, decided suddenly that they wanted to live alone. They gave him one month to find somewhere else to live. The timing couldn’t have been worse. Diego worked for a nonprofit group that operated in the summer, taking children to museums and cultural events. With summer ending, he’d lost his main source of income. Finding another job would be complicated because of his resident status. Under a Trump presidency, would DACA even exist much longer?

The good news for him—which was actually more bad news for me–was that C had just been cast in a job and would be shooting out of town for the next three months. He offered Diego his very nice apartment in Manhattan, rent-free. They would technically be living together, though C would be in another state.

Diego broke this to me over text while I was at work. Apparently he’d confided to C that he was planning to sleep in the closet-sized art studio his graduate school provided students. C miraculously stepped in. I couldn’t believe this was happening. The motherfucker was like, gentrifying my love life! Obviously I couldn’t tell Diego, “No, don’t take the amazing rent-free apartment. I know you don’t have money right now for another security deposit and first and last month’s rent, but it would make me more comfortable if you slept in a closet.” I also couldn’t tell him to move in with me, since we’d only dated for three and a half months. I’m not crazy.

Offering a whole-ass apartment was the kind of grand gesture I could never compete with. For the first time, it seemed possible to me that I might actually lose Diego. I’m sure C had a thousand and one wonderful qualities that made him more than the white savior I’d reduced him to in my mind, but I thought: I am going to lose the love of my life because I am poor.

Somehow that was easier to stomach than the other possibility: That I might lose Diego because he simply preferred C, and the fact that he was a rich white dude had nothing to do with it. At least I could delude myself into thinking one day I would have money. But for him to like C more—like his stories, his lips, his affection more—what was I supposed to do with that?

Wow, I wrote back. That’s so generous.

 

Diego was going to make me pancakes. He showed up at my apartment before noon, his backpack brimming with groceries he could afford because he didn’t have to pay rent. I greeted him barefoot, wearing a T-shirt he’d left behind some night, and kissed him on the cheek while he unpacked a bag of flour and bottles of syrup and oil on my kitchen table. As soon as he finished, he stared at the ingredients for a long time, then put it all back into his backpack.

“I have to tell you something,” he said. “But not in here. I don’t want to leave bad energy here. Can we go for a walk?”

“Sure,” I said, playing it off, though I knew nothing good could come from those words. I slunk into my bedroom and put on a pair of sneakers. “Just like, around the block?”

“Yeah,” he said. “That’s fine.”

He slung his backpack over his shoulder, a small gesture that made my blood run cold. We stepped out of my apartment, walking down the hallway one behind the other, instead of side by side. He apologized about not responding to a text I’d sent him the night before.

“It’s because I was sort-of with someone,” he said. I couldn’t see his face. Thankfully, he couldn’t see mine. My cheeks must have cycled through every possible color.

Out on the sidewalk, I wanted so badly to be chill.

“Yeah?” I said as we walked, hoping it’d be nothing, that he’d tell me he was at the movies with a friend.

“I’m thinking of doing this thing where I have sex—for like, money,” he said. “I mean, I did. That’s what I was doing last night.”

The minutes melted away as we walked on in silence. I was still fairly new to my neighborhood. Nothing looked familiar. I gaped around and couldn’t remember how we’d gotten to where we were, a quiet park; how I’d gotten here, in my life. I used to think that by twenty-seven I’d be a doctor with kids and a minivan. What I had was a minimum-wage job, a boyfriend who wasn’t really my boyfriend, and a handful of published stories I built my identity as a so-called writer around. I felt like that Robert Frost poem, looking at the fork in the road I could’ve taken, and at the one I did. Neither seemed all that appealing.

“Oh,” I said.

“Yeah,” he responded.

I tried to iron out my thoughts: I didn’t believe sex work was immoral. I’d done it; many of my friends had, too. He did need the money. Maybe, my mind worked double-time to justify, this could be like that night in the kitchen, another opportunity for us to define what our relationship would look like.

“With who?” I asked.

“Some guy from Grindr,” he said. “Does it matter who?”

It did. In my ape brain, it absolutely did. I wanted the guy to be two hundred years old. I wanted Diego to say he thought of me the whole time. I knew this wasn’t fair, but I wanted it.

“Were you safe?”

He dropped his eyes to his sneakers. “No.”

I clung to that. I couldn’t be angry that he was dating someone famous, or that he was sleeping in another man’s apartment, or that he was doing sex work, but this—this was too far.

“Why not?” I asked, ready to let out all my bottled-up frustration, to fight. “You know how risky that is.”

“I…” he said. “I don’t know. I know. I’m sorry.”

My chest deflated. Suddenly, I couldn’t bear to argue. I didn’t want him to feel guilty, not for doing what he had to do, not even if what he had to do hurt me.

As I stood there deciding what to say to him next, it was not beyond the writer in me how easily our story could be summed up with a handful of clichés: the poor children of immigrants, the queer couple doomed to break up over sex, the white knight. Up until then I’d believed if I told myself these were just silly stereotypes they wouldn’t get to me—that I could wear my self-awareness like armor. But it was clear to me now just how delusional that line of thinking was.

After all, I was perfectly aware that, if Diego liked me and C the same, it made sense that he should choose the person who could help him most. I was aware that, even if Diego liked me a little bit more, C would still be the smarter pick. I was aware of these things, and yet they didn’t protect me. If anything my they left me more vulnerable than ever.

“Do you not want to see me anymore?” I asked him at last. Perhaps it was a selfish question. If he chose me, our lives would be a gamble. We might never do more than get stoned and fall asleep together. For the foreseeable future, we would likely struggle with money. Who knows how much longer we’d be hungry. I was aware of the sacrifice he’d be making, that he needed a place to sleep, but still, I thought we could be happy. We’d figure it out somehow.

Diego stared off at a point far down the street. “I always do this,” he said.

“Do you not want to see me anymore?” I repeated, trying to keep my voice from breaking, because I suspected if he knew how much his answer could devastate me, he’d lie.

He took a deep breath, then, without looking at my face, said, “It’s just getting hard to have to consider you.”

The words sank into me like a rock.

Okay, Panzón, I thought. Good for you. Good for choosing you, I didn’t say it, but I meant it. I still do.

I turned around and walked back to my apartment alone, feeling as if I were drowning, unsure if I was even heading in the right direction. Eventually I found my way there, pulled myself up the steps, pushed my door open, and collapsed onto the floor of the living room.

Lying on the ground, I felt trapped under the weight of a thousand questions. The first: If he wanted to break up, why did he bring all those ingredients? The second: Did I do something, between him unpacking his backpack and asking to go on the walk, that made him think I wasn’t worth it? The third: Did I make a mistake asking him if he didn’t want to see me anymore? The fourth: Did I make a mistake meeting him too soon? Would meeting him years from now, when I’d “made it,” have made a difference, when everything else was so right? And, underlying all those questions were the ones I could have never brought myself to ask:

Wasn’t it?

Or is “this feels so right” just something polite you say after sex?

A foot from my limp body, my roommate’s Siri hovered over me from where it was plugged into the wall. I wanted to hear someone else feel as worthless as I did. Adele. Toni Braxton. “Siri, play a sad song,” I whimpered. But she misheard me and played Thong Song.

As the opening violin chords poured out of the speaker, my lips reluctantly curled into a smile, and then I broke out into tears, and then I was laughing and sobbing, a part of me grateful for Siri’s mistake, which felt like a sign of solidarity from the universe, its way of telling me that this was all so dumb, so ridiculous. Another part of me wished the universe would shut the fuck up for once and let me be miserable, because I loved him, and that wasn’t dumb, and that wasn’t ridiculous.

Halfway through the song, it occurred to me that the train Diego would have to get on to head back to the city would probably pull up to the station any minute. It was the only train nearby, the same one I needed to take to go to Xtasy or meet up with a friend who might help me end my pity party. If I wanted to avoid Diego, I only had to wait thirty more seconds for it to depart. Then I could pick myself up, get the next one. Or I could run, go try to catch him before he left, not spend the rest of my life agonizing over what would have happened if I’d fought for us.

You know what’s the worst thing? he’d asked me the night we met. I’d been staring at the abandoned brownstone, getting lost in our rom-com life. What I remembered now, as I lay on the ground, is that even after running to the station, we were still a few minutes late. We might as well have taken our time. So for a little while longer I let myself keep laughing and sobbing, knowing it didn’t matter how I wanted this story to end. There was no point rushing. I was going to miss that train.

***

Rumpus original art by Brandan Ray Leathead.


Edgar Gomez is a Florida-born writer with roots in Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. His writing has been anthologized in Best Gay Stories and has appeared in POPSUGAR, Narratively, Longreads, The Rumpus, Ploughshares, and elsewhere online and in print. His memoir, High-Risk Homosexual, is forthcoming in fall 2021 from Soft Skull Press. He lives in Queens, where he is saving up for good lotion. Find him across social media @EdgarRubenGomez or visit his website at edgargomez.net. More from this author →