He could see to the edge of the earth and back. The sky itself became his canvass. He watched the cosmos put on their light show for him. It was always different, punctuated by comets and shooting stars, the sky changing from a dusky plum colour to a sateen black.
From his vantage point, he saw everything. He had made his home at the top of a fire watch tower. That tower was at the top of a mountain. Alexander saw everything above and below. Every so often, he saw a flare of orange and red plumes fill the sky, as if the night itself had thrown off its black cloak to reveal the fiery feathers underneath. He called in those, speaking to the people who would put the fires out.
That was his life: wake, look out at the world and watch to see if part of it was erupting. He was deep within the trees of the forest so when the wind blew, it was as if the trees were whispering to him. In a way, he was never alone, but he was very lonely. He filled up his evenings with old movies. The fire watch tower had a small black and white television and a pile of old VHS cassettes. He did have a few books, but at night, when the darkness was total, he liked to have the sound of another voice.
He had been watching one movie in particular over and over again. It was an old movie from 1988 called Running on Empty. River Phoenix was in it and he was gorgeous. Alexander knew he needed to get laid if he was lusting after a guy from thirty years ago.
Just like the stars that changed in the blink an eye, so does life. It was a perfectly ordinary day. There was nothing to mark it as different. Alexander was just about to climb up to the top of the tower with some supplies when he heard a voice behind him. “Hey, Alexander?”
Turning, Alexander felt the world around him fall away. Coming towards him, his footsteps whispering like the leaves in the wind, was Troy. His Troy, his only. His everything. Alexander wondered if it was possible for a heart to stop beating when someone left and start anew when that person returned.
There were so many things that Alexander wanted to say. Instead he said, “What are you doing here?” What he wanted to say was: Where have you been? Why did you leave? How did you get back here? How did you find me?
Alexander watched Troy as Troy came closer to him, saw brilliance of his green eyes flash in the sun, saw the stubble on his chin and his gorgeous lips. Then Troy was there, and he was kissing Alexander. He had dreamed of Troy, had yearned for him, so it didn’t occur to push Troy away from him.
Troy still carried the same scent, sandalwood and something sweet, like someone had dusted his skin with sugar and cinnamon. Alexander slowly broke the kiss. “You might as well come up. You don’t want to be out here at night.”
Alexander turned away from Troy and began climbing up the ladder of the watchtower. He felt the moment when Troy began climbing. He could feel his vibrations in the ladder. As Alexander climbed, he wondered how he could still want him as if it were yesterday, why his heart held onto the emotions that only Troy could awake in him?
All too soon, Alexander was at the top. His body was humming, and a vibration seemed to come from his skin. It wanted to be touched again. He wanted to be touched again. Then Troy was there, his hair shining like spun gold in a riot of curls.
They both stood looking at each other, taking in the measure of the other man. Alexander wanted to run to him, to crush his body into Troy’s. Instead, he asked, “Why are you here?”
Troy ran a hand through his hair and Alexander was almost undone. That gesture was so familiar to him. Troy only did it when he was nervous. “I missed you.”
“What else do you want me to say? That the moment I left you, I wanted to come back? That I dream of you at night and now visions of you have started to seep into the daylight hours?”
Alexander was quiet. Then he spoke. “Why did you leave me?”
“I wanted more than this.” Troy motioned to the watch tower. “I wanted to live.”
“Whereas you were more than enough for me because I was only truly alive with you.”
Troy came a little closer. The air between them started to spark. “I saw flames in the sky and all I could think of was you. All I want is you.” He touched Alexander’s face. “Please.”
It was the please that undid Alexander. He kissed him again, trying to say everything that had yet to be said, everything he had wanted to say, with that kiss. He knew that there was more to talk about but right now, there was only Troy.
Something clicked within him, as if a wall had dropped. His skin was warm, and he felt a whoosh of air around him. He pulled away from the kiss and looked around him. All he saw was Troy and a riot of colour. At first, he thought it was fire, but as Troy and Alexander reached out to touch the plumes, they did not burn.
“It’s the colour of our love.” Troy said.
Alexander stared at the gold, yellow and orange plumage that surrounded them, seeming to move with their heart beats, and realized: it hadn’t been fires he had been seeing: it was the love between two people blooming into existence.
Holding Troy close, he looked out into the night sky as the world around them became a riot of colour.