I meet you at my favorite Village Discount at 2 pm.
The hesitancy I feel manifests itself in tardiness: I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to put on my body.
I’m often afraid of giving boys the full effect of my innate femmeness, so this time I settled on a baggy leather short with fishnets and a cropped tie-dyed tee moment—subtlety is key.
As I approach, I can feel the disinterest coursing through my veins; this couldn’t be a complete waste, at least I’d score some cute dress from the little girl’s section.
I scold myself for being jilted upon arrival, take a moment of stillness to regain composure, and tap him on the shoulder.
He's wearing a hunter green tee and cuffed blue jeans
His perfectly trimmed scruff and double ear piercing start a riot in me
my heart skips a beat.
The cutie that I matched with on tinder is finally in front of my eyes
I need to find some way to comprise—
the feeling of disgust that starts to arise,
not for you, but for what you are destined to do.
Subconsciously, I am what you find taboo--
it isn’t your fault.
I am pleasantly surprised.
I had assumed that the boredom that you would present would be filled with the endless possibilities that reside in Village Discount, but there is no boredom to be found.
a pair of royal blue bell bottoms
A boy who had minored in Women Studies too
I found you
A boy who loves Never Been Kissed as much as I do
I found you
A boy whose anxiety takes control and turns him into a stew, just like me too
I found you.
We depart Village Discount and continue our journey over Thai food.
We talk for hours about acapella groups, the lack of representation for people of color in the media, our love for Sufjan Stevens, the necessity of memes and gifs in textual communication, and our collection of random funny videos.
It’s 8 pm and the restaurant is closing
I can’t help but love that I am overdosing
on you. What specifically did you come here to do?
I am overcome with the fear of falling into the blue
of the flame that is starting to ignite.
I can see the sparks, so clearly, as if they were in plain sight.
Do you see them?
Do you hear them?
Do you feel them?
Do you feel me?
We sit on a stoop in the Village of Roscoe--
munching on doughnuts you brought from your place of work.
I am astounded by the day that we’ve had.
I am confused by the intensity of our connection.
I am engulfed by the presence of you.
I don't want it to end
I don't want this to end
I don't want us to end
it’s 11pm, and all good things must come to an end.
We drive in your car down the narrow streets of Roscoe, blasting Empress Of.
As your car reaches my apartment, I feel my heart stop--
you meet my fear with flame,
my uncertainty with astuteness.
You mutter sweet nothings—so I kiss you quick and hard
for I can see the light fading, I can feel the charred scars forming…
I know that this is going to be our last goodbye.
And much like a firework
you illuminate my sky
and send ash plunging into my soul
why do I have to be so intuitive?
About the author...
Jerome Riley Jr. is a queer actor/ writer/ performer from St. Louis, Mo. Jerome is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where he earned a BFA in Musical Theatre with a minor in Women & Gender Studies. He was most recently seen in The Scottsboro Boys at Porchlight Music Theatre, and can be seen in the world premiere of Trevor the Musical at Writers Theatre. Jerome can also be seen every second Wednesday of the month at Berlin Night Club for the latinx night, Duro, where he performers with the queer performance group: The Chanels.