Brave New World
by Corey Saucier
One Bad Day
Sometimes a fight is just a fight, and sometimes it’s not
So we broke up—“we” being my boyfriend and I. We broke up just a few minutes ago, and it had nothing to do with sex: Nothing to do with HIV or serodiscordancy or condoms or PrEP or PEP or any of the indissoluble life-altering conflicts of blood, bed sheets, and semen—or at least that’s what we are telling ourselves. We are telling ourselves that we are disentangling our love, lives, and futures over an “inability to communicate”—or at least that’s the reason he gave me. And I promise I’m not bitter about it. In fact, I broke up with him….No, really, I did!
But of course that’s what the bitter one always says.
I assume there were always signs. Sure he was HIV-negative and I was HIV-positive and we could never get the intimacy right, or have sex without fear, or trust the new science that said we could not hurt each other…but I’m sure that that had nothing to do with it. I repeat we did not break up because of the HIV—at least that’s what we are telling ourselves.
The truth is that last night we had a fight—a stupid fight—our first and last fight.
This is how it began. It was date night. We had plans to have dinner and see a movie. But he was in a bad mood because after two years of not working, he was told (yet again) that he did not get the job he was applying for. And he was sad. But me being the kind of girl that I am, I made it all about me. And I told my normally chipper well-spirited sweetheart, who needed my support, that he was being “aggressive,” “hard-edged,” and “not at his best.”
I can be selfish sometimes, and I’m not the softest place to fall.
HIV has obviously made me compassionate in a million beautiful ways, but it has also made me far less so in others. I often forget that people just have bad days. It may have something to do with the fact that I have been HIV-positive for fifteen years; that I’ve been hospitalized about a half a dozen times; and that I have “almost died” more than once. So I have very little patience for lamenting over the little things. But of course, our break-up has nothing to do with my status; or the fact that we’ve only had sex five times in five months—which has prevented us from forming a strong enough physical and emotional bond that could withstand hardships, insecurities, miscommunications, arguments, and one bad day….
So the black crows are circling the purple sky and the moon is warning us to go home, but we are stubborn and in love, so we decide to continue with our plans. Dinner is quiet: lots of clinking forks. The movie is some high-minded, queer-centric documentary about James Broughton: a progenitor of the beat poets. And it’s filled with a bunch of old men, and no black people. And afterwards, we are walking home: holding hands; discussing the film….
We were so close. Three more blocks and we would have made it.
And then we had the fight. It doesn’t matter what it was about or how it began, because the fault was already in our stars. Maybe he said something about me being black, or maybe I said something about him being old, but by that time both of us were already too far gone, and the universe was already unraveling at the seams, and the moon was already whispering, “I told you so.”
It was the kind of fight that feels like it’s having you, rather than you having it.
Later we decided it was a “miscommunication.” And it was. But because we haven’t had sex in more than five weeks—and because he went to the dentist this week and so we haven’t kissed in almost seven days—and because we’ve never had another magical bareback moment like the one we had that night we were being so brave—and because a relationship can’t survive on just ONE magical moment—and because after so long all of that distance just seems unbreachable…the next day over donuts we broke up.
But it had nothing to do with the HIV.
Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently penning his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.