Character(s): Josh, Sam
Category(s): General, Friendship
Summary: Is Sam just plating mind games with himself?
A single sheet of paper, a single thought, sitting perfectly centered on an otherwise barren desk. A future, a past, everything he has been and everything he wants to be. A new promise made, one broken.
Sitting perfectly centered on a barren desk.
"You'll never do it, Sam." Even though he's starting to think that may not be true much longer. "But if it makes you feel better."
All the argument gone, just the lingering ability to care left, Josh sits in front of Sam's desk with his hands folded across his stomach. "If it makes you feel better to pack up the box, print out the letter, we'll do it every night. As long as you want."
His eyes glide around the room, take note that this time, there is more on the credenza behind Sam than in the box. A good sign. Maybe Sam is getting tired of filling and emptying the box with the same things, over and over.
"It's all here," Sam tells him. "Anyone who wants to know, it's all right here. Distilled into one sheet of paper, three crisp paragraphs. If anyone wants to know."
Josh sighs to himself. It would do no good to tell Sam that he wants to know. Or that he's read the letter, and, although it's better than the first four, it's not as good as the sixth. Stretching the muscles of his legs from the thighs down, Josh sighs to himself.
"You want my chair?" Sam asks.
Josh laughs. "No, man, I don't want your chair. I want your ass in your chair. But, whatever." He wants to pick something up, but there's nothing left. The desk is like a clean slate. A threat. He almost pulls a muscle when he twists in the chair and tries to reach for an empty videotape box on the shelf behind him. It's not worth the effort of getting up.
"It's a good chair."
"It's your chair, Sam." He's not having this discussion. Tipping back in his own chair, which is hard and formal, Josh puts his feet on the desk. Settles in. "But I'll take your phone."
"My phone, the buttons stick. I keep trying to call you, I get security. Every time." Josh picks at his pinky nail with his thumbnail.
"You can have my phone, then," Sam tells him. "I try to call you; I get you." Somehow, that doesn't sound like such a good thing.
Josh shrugs. The thrill of Sam bequeathing his belongings wore off after the second night. When he'd tried to claim his lamp the next morning, and had to endure Sam slapping his hand away, saying it wasn't going anywhere, and neither was he.
Until the desk was cleared off three nights later, a new letter sitting in the center of it.
"Do this before midnight just once, and maybe I'll take you seriously." Josh's yawn nearly overtakes the last two words. "C'mon, Sam. Let's unpack this mother and get out of here."
"Where am I supposed to go?" Sam has nowhere to sit, the box is on his chair. So he stands there staring at the gleaming paper calmly beaming back at him from the center of his dark desk.
Josh snorts lightly, shakes his head. "What have I been saying?"
He looks up to see Sam, head bowed, features slack. Getting to his feet, Josh comes around the desk and reaches into the box. Standing behind Sam, one hand on his left arm, the other placing a pencil holder in the right-hand corner of the desk. Leaning into Sam, he smells the weak remnants of his cologne.
Hand still firmly grasping Sam's arm. When he reaches around him to put back Sam's Newton's cradle, he notices the aroma of coffee. Replacing the small nautical clock, he's aware of a citrusy scent he attributes to detergent, or maybe hair gel.
Josh starts to feel the warmth of Sam's close body as he sets down a stack of legal pads. Discovers a red hair on the back of his collar when he positions the calendar. Hands Sam the rest of the contents of the box, one item at a time, never letting go of his shirt.
"Now can we go?" Josh wants to know when there is nothing left to restore except Sam's faith.
"Where am I supposed to go?" Rough and worn out.
Touching his forehead to the back of Sam's neck. One last gesture, a long arm circling around Sam to drag the stiff slice of paper off the desk.
"Just follow me. I'll make sure you get there."
"Next time, I'm getting two boxes."
| back | send feedback | The National Library |