Vincent’s bare feet shuffled across the kitchen’s outdated linoleum floor of his two-bedroom apartment. He drew the curtains apart, letting in the bright yellow rays of sunlight flood the room. He walked to the cupboard, fishing inside for the can of instant coffee. He mixed it manually in his cup. That’s what happens when you don’t even have a common coffee maker.
He hummed as he took small sips from the chipped mug he used, his fingers occasionally beating the body of the mug in self-made music. It was about eight in the morning, a good two hours until he opened up the tattoo parlor for the day’s business.
Vincent walked into the sitting room, picking up the remote from the center table before settling into one of the two available single sitters.
He ran a hand through his short curly hair as he flipped through the few available channels. His brown eyes felt tired like they were going to give way to the sleep he had not had the opportunity to enjoy for a while.
Things had been weighing on his mind. As a matter of fact, it was just a person, August to be exact.
Vincent groaned, settling for a news channel. August had left months ago and he couldn’t still shake him of his mind. Maybe it was the way August had left with no goodbye but a short message on a sticky note saying not to look for him. He left like a ghost, a faint memory, and he still vividly lived in Vincent’s mind. Vincent should have expected it. August had come into his life the same way anyway. August had appeared at his door a bitter twenty-one year old with nothing to his name but a small bag of art supplies. He’d begged to be given a place to stay, promising that he’d be gone by January.
And he was.
Vincent never knew it would hurt this much, that he’d miss the Creole young man that didn’t know two dimes about living in the slums of Detroit.
Vincent’s friends had constantly mocked August about his lack of street sense. They’d also mocked his pale skin that was as a result of him being biracial. They’d had arguments about whether he was black or white.
August had hated that, and he’d always pout and babble his complaints to Vincent when his friends were gone.
A sad smile graced Vincent’s lips as he thought about August; August with his big brown doe eyes and pretty hair. He’d never expected August to leave. They’d admitted their feelings for each other a month before August’s surprising exit. Vincent had thought August would decide to stay with him, that he’d forget he ever made plans to leave.
“No one who’s been a rich city boy will be satisfied with living like this.” Anita, Vincent’s half-sister, had warned him concerning August when she’d visited with her young child.
Vincent had ignored her. She hadn’t known August, she hadn’t known how well he’d adapted to the life he’d shared with Vincent. It had been a painful blow to Vincent when August had left. He’d decided it was because he hadn’t been good enough for him, that it was because he couldn’t afford the life August was used to living.
Vincent sighed, trying to get August out of his head as he swapped the boring news channel for another.
His head really wasn’t in the news, to be honest. It was drifting within the clouds of self-pity and depression. August had taken everything with him. He’d taken Vincent’s heart and his sanity and hadn’t even bothered to leave one of his paintings for the man he professed to love.
The television caught Vincent’s eye. August was on the news! He cocked his head to the side a little, wondering if he had started seeing things out of longing. He knew desire could be a very powerful stimulant.
“And with us today we have August Maxwell, the winner of the national youth art competition,” the woman in a plaid blue suit said as she gestured towards August. A bright smile broke out on the young man’s face, the in-depth dimples on his cheeks made Vincent suck in a breath.
Vincent quickly felt around the sofa for the remote. He checked the info on the program before reading the news headlines. He wasn’t dreaming, August was on TV. Apparently, he’d won a nationwide art contest and was now receiving several sponsors for his first ever exhibition.
“Where are you exhibiting first? I heard the first one would be a solo and the others will be a string of group exhibitions,” the lady asked. August then gave her his signature smile that pulled mercilessly at Vincent’s heartstrings.
“New York,” August muttered as he picked at the invisible lint on his jeans, his soft voice filling the small living room through the television speakers and flooding Vincent’s senses. Vincent felt his eyes prickling with unshed tears. He’s never felt so abandoned in his life. August had left without a word, without a goodbye.
He turned the TV off before tossing the remote to the floor. He brought his palms to his face, feeling the first spasm of sobs hit him.
He knew he should be happy for August — pleased for him. August had gotten all he’d ever wanted from life. He’d become the well-known artist he’d worked hard to be. But why was Vincent’s heart still aching? Why couldn’t he just be happy for August and realize his decision to leave had been the best option? There was no way August could have achieved what he had in one of Detroit’s many slums. People here were busy saving money to buy food and necessities, not Art.
Vincent wiped his tears away. He was not going to cry over this. August was happy and he should be happy because of that one simple fact. But the truth was that he just wasn’t happy and deep down somewhere in his heart he selfishly wished August had stayed with him and given up on his dream, he wished August had not been brave enough to sacrifice their relationship.