I am a Japanese boy. I am living with my sister in a guest house belonging to my grandma. My uncle lives in the main building. I walk across the garden with my sister, laughing. We play Nintendo in Grandma's tatami room. Eventually, she tells me it's getting late and it's time to go back to the main building. I head outside to watch the fireworks, but it's a cloudy night tonight and I can't get a good view. I go back to Grandma's to get my shoes so I can walk down the street. Something is wrong. The room is dark. Why would it be dark? Then, my uncle attacks me. He's trying to kill me, with a knife. But I'm faster than him. I get it from his hands and stab him. I grab my shoes and run outside.

Our little island, home to just a hundred people at most, is pulling away from the main island as if being on a motor. The night is dark and the fireworks are distracting the main island from the horrid, occult thing that's suddenly happening. I quickly realize that all the adults on the island are plotting this, and my sister and I-- all the children, in fact-- are in terrible danger. Even the shadows seem dangerous. I run outside and through the narrow Japanese alleys. I sneak into a yard and hop through a neighbor's window. He knocks me out and ties me up in the bathroom. But his bonds are too weak. I break free just as he opens up the bathroom door. I attack and stab him through the heart with an apple slicer. I whip out my cell phone and call my sister. "My little brother's sick," I say. "He won't be able to go with you."

"Careful," she says. "If the brother is sick the sister can be too." I realize that I am not safe here. I hear a noise upstairs. No time to lose! I run back to the bedroom and jump out the door. They might shoot at me in the yard. I hope they don't have a gun and if I just make it to the fence...

I'll tell you why it's worth the risk:

because laughter is at least as important as forgetting;

because watching a beautiful man sleep is better than enduring a brutal man's embrace;

because gentleness is rare and gentlemen are rarer still, and combined they are an ocean breeze on raw and naked skin;

because hope trumps disappointment and takes all its chips;

because the span of his hands across the small of my back is simultaneously familiar and electric;

because of the bumping of noses and the sugar shock of open-eyed kisses;

because innocence, blind and trusting as a newborn fawn, stumbles through every barrier my heart ever mustered;

because water and fire and air and earth nestle together in the calm prism of his gaze;

because in his company twelve is a good age to feel and thirty-seven is a good age to be;

because now I know that butterflies still inhabit my tummy and all they needed was this tiny resurrection;

because no resurrection is ever tiny;

because none of this was manufactured by Detroit or Madison Avenue or even by bourbon;

because one morning with him erased nearly every lonely night;

because he is lovely and when he watches me I feel my own loveliness;

because I am absurdly and childishly pleased to be seen with a man this hot;

because he gave up precious and exciting things to spend time with me in desolate places;

because he reminds me that time is meant to be spent wantonly, liberally sauced with silliness and laced with random caresses;

because of the way my breath lodges in my chest when he glances at me sideways and squeezes my hand;

because he will not lie, even when it is prettier and easier to do so;

because he calls me by name;

because his touch is light and uncomplicated and pure as flight itself;

because he honors but refuses to tread lightly on my broken places;

because under his fingertips I trust the sacredness of my own flesh, the rush of my own blood;

because I can't breathe when he looks at me that way, which is steady and which is honest and which is stripped clean of pretense;

because he is funny and profane and his accent is chiseled out of pure New England granite;

because he is a champion navigator - he watches for stock and rocks and ice and deer - and doesn't often grab the Jesus bar even though my driving skills are abysmal;

because he lets me cry in restaurants (or anywhere else the teardrops rise to meet the healing);

because he calls my scars beautiful and means it;

because bullshit is something up with which he will not put;

because he disagrees with me on fundamental matters and agrees with me about plums;

because he thinks he doesn't understand poetry even though he is a breathing poem;

because his shoulders are broad and his legs are strong and his ass is a wonder;

because he doesn't pretend to love the outdoors but he goes there with me anyway;

because when I am with him I forget afraid I forget lonely I remember laugh I remember breathe;

because the richest morsels of summertime are meant to be devoured with such a man as this;

because he is a banquet after years of dumpster diving, a steak after scraps, wine after vinegar;

because he owns himself completely but shares himself generously;

because this is not an entanglement, this is clean-burning fuel, this is self-renewing - like springtime, like constellations, like sanity;

because - hello! - PBR in cans in a hot spring at night;

because he understands that this - this - is the living part of making a living;

because he knows when not to talk;

because being with him forces me to shower-sing terrible AM radio songs I thought I'd forgotten, and he barely teases me for being off key;

because he smells better before he showers than after;

because he reminds me what delight means, what surprise means, and that touch is not love's solitary signifier;

because I am lonelier and wealthier and more fragile and stronger now that he's gone;

because he is he and I am I and we met in the middle, in rain and in starlight;

because even if this is only what it was,

it is.

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