I was a still a virgin back then, still learning about my power, still not convinced of my femininity. I flirted with you and teased you and looked at you from under my lashes when your mum and dad weren’t looking. I sneaked peaks at your hand and arms and chest as I took sips of water. Later I got you to come out of your shell and talk about yourself. You were the shyest farm boy I’d ever met. I think pig farmers must be shyer than dairy farmers, the farmers sons where I come from are much more forward. We were alone for hours that night playing cards and blushing. I remember how you looked at me. We drank your Dad’s port from the stuff he kept in the barrel.
I remember the first compliment you gave me, you hadn’t moved to Melbourne yet but you were visiting. I had my hair up in a ballerina bun and you told me you really liked it that way, that was in the front yard at Glen Iris.
A few years later and we were sharing together in a big rambling house in the middle of St Kilda, with your sister and 3 other girls. Your moving in Party was the same night as my 21st party. We tormented each other. All of us girls tormented you. You were our little brother and you bit back, sometimes viciously. You had a girlfriend briefly. We all gave you hell about that, I wish I hadn’t. I know the others stirred you about me. I know how much you wanted me but I brushed you off.
I was seriously obnoxious back then. So were you though, you were scornful and righteous, I was insensitive, vain and proud and had way too many expectations about what life owed me. I had affairs and flings with men, you got more and more scornful. Even though I was attracted to you I pushed you away.
The household broke up, you kissed me in the night club at the back of the place that is now burnt down. I was devastated. You chose exactly the moment when my latest crush was standing there talking to me. I invited you over to dinner a few weeks later to tell you that you couldn’t ever do that again. I invited you over to dinner because I didn’t want to lose you as a friend.
The years went by. We still caught up and went to gigs occasionally, mainly with your sister. But then you went to China about the same time I went to hell. We both came back though, you with a fiancée. I was just happy to be alive. Your sisters showed me her photo before I met her. She had such a warm smile and I was so happy for you.
Of course we’ve seen each other over the years, mainly at your sister’s place. I’ve seen your lovely house, I’ve met your beautiful wife many times, I’ve held your gorgeous son. I didn’t get invited to your wedding. You’ve changed, you’re much better at social stuff now. You’re no longer moody and awkward. We no longer bait and tease each other. You politely ask me about people we both used to know. Occasionally I see the young you and I don’t smirk, instead I cherish.
I had a warning , It was three weeks ago at your godson’s christening. I caught you looking at me. I felt how I responded, I felt how much I wanted you to look at me. I thought we were over this. I’m glad I had to leave early.
But then last Saturday at the wedding it was okay. We were both polite and it was good. I was so happy for your sister I cried. And then at the reception I cried again at the bridesmaids speech. It was all so right for her. It was such a happy day.
Then I catch you looking at me as you drink from your glass. I talk to your nieces and your sisters. You asked me to dance with your wife as you don’t like dancing. I danced with your wife. Oh goddess I don’t ever want to dance with your wife again. We end up sitting next to each other during desert. There was a moment when I passed you a piece of wedding cake but it was over so quickly. It was okay again, back to polite conversation, and then your wife started demanding your attention so I turned the other way and watched the tacky videos and the bride's friends and the groom's sisters getting silly on the dance floor.
I sail on my drunken thoughts for a while, 10 minutes? 4 songs maybe? And then I turn back and there you are. You’re inches away from me, you’ve been sitting beside me, facing me, the front of your body turned toward my back as I drifted away on my thoughts. You’re close enough for me to feel your energy and hear your breath, you’re whole body has softened and opened to me, your face is lit up. Oh thank goodness you’re still there. Oh no this is bad.
I catch a cab home. I wake up crying. For the first time in my life I’m crying for you. That was last Sunday and I’ve cried everyday since then.
I want to tell what I feel for you. I want to tell you about that day when we were living in St Kilda and we were both 21. We were sitting on the concrete in the back yard, lazy in the sun. You were wearing just a pair of footy shorts, your honey coloured skin, your lean limbs. I wanted you so much, but I was so scared.
I want to tell you how every time I hold your godson, your nephew, my heart bursts because I love him so much and not just because of the wonderful boy he is or that I love his mum so much but because I see you in him. There is so much of you in him.
I want to tell you how often I think of you. When my sister’s boyfriend plays faith no more on the car stereo, when the man’s phone in the next cubicle goes off - his ring tone is “wish you were here” the song you taught me to play on guitar.
I want to analyse this and work out if I’m just projecting some other impossible love on to you, I want to know if I felt this much for you all along if this is just a catalyst for something else.
I want to tell somebody about this pain and how huge and how raw it is. How could this pain that is so new to me be so old? It must be something else.
I want to laugh about how stupid it all is. How silly and pretentious and inexperienced I was back then. I want to laugh most of all about how we all thought you were carrying a candle for me and how embarrassing it was. I want to laugh about it because it turns out we were all wrong. It turns out I’m carrying a candle for you.