He was tired on the ride home. His head dipped once—twice—
The fifth time, he slumped into me and caught himself. I looked straight ahead at the taped up alligator green seat back.
On the eighth dip, his head descended onto my shoulder more gently. Maybe he knew what he was doing. No jolt. He rested.
And I let him. I knew I shouldn’t. One boy sleeping on another was childish. Gay.
But I didn’t push him off or think of pulling away so he’d flop down on the seat.
I let him—I let him nestle in as I were his pillow. I let him snore. I thought I’d only stop him if he started to drool. That that was the limit.
But in the meantime, for the first time, I eased into the role of protector. The last line of defense from anyone writing on his face. From a wet willy.
I looked over his head, out the window and watched the way sign posts blurred into nothingness as the bus sped past them. As if the signs themselves were hovering and I could stick my hand right through the space beneath them. As if the laws of matter were subject neither to fact nor my will, but the whims of the space between what was and was not. In dream.
Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and a recent alum of Oregon State’s MFA Program..He won the Bayou Magazine’s Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and has published work in journals including The Normal School and Bellevue Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter @miketchin.