Somehow, he let Calvin talk him into meeting up one last time.
Naturally, he hadn’t meant to, but Calvin’s silver tongue could rival the serpent in Eden. The fatal error was made when Mitch decided to call Calvin instead of sending a text about how he’d finally gotten approved for health insurance via MassHealth. He didn’t want to talk, but he did want to convey his gratitude; Calvin not only allowed Mitch to stay on his plan, but covered it as well, and that warranted actual appreciation.
To his surprise, Calvin actually picked up his phone. They chatted for a few minutes, which was surprisingly pleasant, and then Calvin said the following: “You know, I’m going to be passing through the area later this week. We ought to get lunch, before we never talk again.”
Mitch laughed, convinced it was a joke. It was not. “I dunno…” he stalled, and then Calvin reminded him of the favor that he owed. Though his tone was playful, it was also forcible. There were worse favor requests, Mitch decided. Way worse. Especially from Calvin. So he agreed to it all: the date and time and the location, whatever Calvin wanted, whatever would meet the requirement to cleanse his hands and gain freedom at last. And then he silently panicked for every waking minute until the day arrived and he was seated at the trattoria that Calvin picked out, a place he’d never even heard of that had no street signage to advertise its existence. The kind of place that he was somehow simultaneously under-dressed and overdressed due to it being out of his wage bracket.
Calvin sat across from him at a small table, studying the menu under dim lighting. Earlier he’d shrugged off his peacoat and leather gloves, which were taken by the hostess, and placed an order for an entire bottle of wine. Something red and vintage that had no price listed.
“You’re gonna have to polish that off yourself,” Mitch commented, and Calvin appeared as if he wanted to say something but refrained. The lack of sniping remarks set Mitch on edge, who came all-too ready to defend himself, all of the tension wound tightly inside of his body and begging for release.
Calvin was still so irritatingly beautiful, Mitch noted, but he hadn’t expected anything less. His long black hair that once came down to the middle of his back had been cut to the shoulders, which perfectly framed his high cheekbones and delicate profile. Mitch almost complimented it but said nothing, not wanting to create an opening.
And then Calvin started talking, mostly at Mitch rather than sharing a conversation. It was about the ski resort in New Hampshire that he and his father were considering investing in, something about potentially of rehabilitating it, or converting it into a wellness retreat center for nature detoxing or whatever it was that wealthy people could afford to do with their money and their issues and their guilt. Mitch thought about climate change and how the ski industry in New England was suffering, but instead let his tongue slip and said, “Did hot yoga guy give you the retreat idea?”
Calvin threw his head back and let out a solitary laugh. “Oh Mitch, I haven’t seen him since, what September? He wasn’t your replacement, if that’s what you thought. Just a way to pass the time, but nothing more.”
“Have you been with anyone since?” Oh god, he didn’t care, he really didn’t. Then Calvin arched an eyebrow at him, and maybe he cared a little.
“Not seriously, no. I don’t have the time to commit to anyone.” He scoffed, then set the menu down and gave Mitch his undivided attention, and Mitch didn’t enjoy the scrutiny one bit. “You do know that you’re the first person that I’ve ever been in any long term situation with, don’t you? Did I never tell you that?”
“No,” Mitch shook his head, feeling the way that his eyes bugged out at the revelation. Why did that infuriate him, but also made him a little hard? He readjusted his pants and tried to recall if that had ever conversation. Maybe it had, but Calvin had a talent for hiding things that he felt cast an unflattering light on him.
“And probably the last, frankly.” He smiled, resting his chin on his fist. “I don’t care much for things that I’m not good at.”
At that, Mitch didn’t know how to react, either wanting to crack up until he asphyxiated or flip over the table and storm out of the building. But he was also fascinated by this admission. The waiter came over and took their orders, which Calvin selected and placed for the both of them without consulting Mitch beforehand. But Mitch accepted this because he wasn’t above a free meal (his only request ahead of time was that it be vegan, since he was still making the attempt. Thankfully, Calvin didn’t comment).
“Why what?” Calvin poured himself another glass of wine and eyed it.
“Why me? Why was I the one?”
The look Calvin shot him screamed don’t flatter yourself. “I tried getting rid of you multiple times.”
Calvin interrupted with a heavy sigh and took a drink. “I don’t know, Mitch. You were a challenge and I was bored, I suppose.”
“A challenge? Really?”
“Yes. You’re a mess, and always so ready to bolt. I wanted all of your heart because I thought I’d be fulfilled if I possessed that, had your undivided attention. But I wasn’t satisfied at all. And then I’d be irritated that you had other options vying for your attention, that you always had someone like Toby waiting in the wings. I found that I didn’t want to hand you over so easily, but I also didn’t want you around.” He paused. “Is that what you wanted to hear?”
“I don’t know,” Mitch answered after a bit of contemplation. After biting the inside of his cheek, he asked, “Calv, how much thought have you given this? That’s quite an answer.”
“Too much,” Calvin shot back quickly. “I’ve…been in therapy. Ever since we-” He gestured between the both of them, “-ended.”
“Oh god, me too.” At that revelation, Calvin’s expression at last thawed and he smiled.
“Am I the main character of your sessions?”
“Occasionally, yes,” Mitch teased, not quite wanting to give the satisfaction of confirming Calvin’s suspicion. He found that this was what he missed about Calvin, these quips, the dry humor when he wasn’t being a child. He spoke in a way that made things seem glamorous, and it was easy to get caught in the illusion. If they didn’t have the extensive history and baggage, Mitch might be charmed all over again.
“I do miss you, sometimes. The conversations, your salt-of-the-earth approach.” Calvin said, as if he’d read Mitch’s mind, then threw in, “Jodie as well. It seems as if she’s made quite a name for herself up here. I’m happy for you both.” While Mitch tried to figure out a way to dissuade further get-togethers, Calvin continued, “But life is full of arrivals and departures, is it not?”
“That it is,” Mitch nodded in agreement. They paused the conversation as their food arrived, and after the waiter checked on them and left. He briefly observed Calvin, now full of even more questions, curious as to whether or not it could ever truly be amicable between them again, tempted to suggest that they didn’t have to lose touch. If they weren’t meant to be lovers, perhaps they were meant to be friends.
But he also knew better. They ended poorly, were never actually good for one another, could probably never be healthy together, even in a platonic sense. This man had done unspeakable things to him, unleashed unspeakable horrors that plagued him to the very day. No prescription strength rose tinted glasses could unsee that damage, even if the lunch was free and the man was hotter than the fucking sun.
Besides, Jodie would kill him if he tried to mend anything with Calvin. He’d already tested her loyalty enough for a lifetime with Toby, and he wouldn’t do that again so soon, if ever.
Calvin raised his glass of wine, and with a little hesitancy but a lot of triumph, declared, “Well. To good endings, Mitch?”
And Mitch softly grinned, raising his glass of water and clinking it against Calvin’s wine. Their ending wasn’t good back in August, but this one was, he supposed. He wondered if Calvin ever truly loved him, if any of this was genuine or if it was some sort of exercise suggested by his therapist, what the purpose of their 5 years together, and so on.
And none of it ultimately mattered, did it? After that afternoon, they’d go their separate ways for good.
He set aside his pride and conceded. “To good endings, Calvin.”