Dear Radio

November 21, 2011
“Press me to your lips and I’ll suck out the poison.”
“You’d kill us both.” I choked out a laugh, and a silence fell between us. “Get me out of here.” I whispered. My lips brushed against his neck. Neither of us breathed for a moment. “If you can hear me, then take me with you.” The music hummed between us.
Arthur’s hands clenched at his sides. “You have a life here. You need to stay.”
“I don’t. I’m not supposed to be here, you know that. Take me with you.” Take notice. Take interest.
“This doesn’t hurt.” The muscle in his jaw tightened.
“I can see you! You’re weak and bereft. This is the place we’ve come to fear the most.” I couldn’t look at him again. I closed my eyes. With my eyes closed, I could see his long raven hair whipping around his porcelain face in the wind. Only with my eyes closed.
“You don’t want to go with me, Charlie. There are a million things you have to see first. Be patient.”
I flopped back onto the grass. “Just pass the book.” It fell across my legs, and I peeked my eyes open. “I still can’t believe you made this.”
The corner of his lip quirked. “Why?”
“Because,” I rolled over onto my stomach and took a breath. “I’ll probably start crying now.”
He leaned across me and placed one hand on the ground to keep his balance. His pale fingers glowed against the deep green grass. “So don’t read it yet.”
“I don’t want you to leave.” I could feel his breath on the back of my hair. He wouldn’t answer; we’d already worn the conversation out. “Where do you think I’ll be next year? Not that you know, or anything.”
He let out a low laugh. “You’re trying to choose by the radio stations in each city.”
“I want to know what kind of people I’m going to be stuck with for four years.” I ran my fingers around the brown leather edges of the book.
“Well, let’s see what we’ve got so far. Rochester’s got old alternative you actually recognize. And I know you didn’t want to listen to it at first, but that’s because you skipped to Berkeley.”
“I liked Berkeley. And Stanford wouldn’t even load.”
“You haven’t seriously considered Stanford, have you?”
I shook my head. “Berkeley had good music.”
He lay down beside me, staring up at the stars. “So did RIT. But you hate the cold.” A breeze chased over the grass.
“If we’re really quiet, we can hear the water.”
“It’s not the ocean, Charlie.”
I didn’t care. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to focus on the sound. The faint smell of tobacco on his leather jacket. Anything to keep me in the present.
Arthur picked up the book and dropped it behind his head. “Santa Cruz has ska. You would love a beach school; it might help you relax.”
“Getting out of this town will help me relax.” I couldn’t hear anything. “I mean, Santa Clara and Pepperdine didn’t even have stations. It depressed the hell out of me.” I still hated The Catcher in the Rye the second time through, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t quote it.
“Rochester’s station doesn’t shut off. It goes all night.”
I opened my eyes and focused on his silhouette in the moonlight. “Why do you want me to go to New York?”
“I know you’ll be safe there.”
“Because you lived in New York, right?” That was exactly the reason I didn’t want to go to New York. “I’ll think about you every single day if I go to Rochester.”
“Those Gossip Girl books take place in New York. You love those.” The corner of his lip pulled up into his signature half smile.
I love you. “Okay, maybe I’d love New York. But I can’t go there.”
“You can be Sabrina, leaving home to forget about your childhood sweetheart.” His voice cracked, and I rolled closer to him. He rested his arm under my head, and I buried my face in his shoulder.
“I don’t want a sunrise, I want a sunset.”
“But the sun is coming.” His chest rose and fell in a languid rhythm, while mine wracked with spasms over the length of five songs.
“Charlie? You know what the book is for?”
I opened my eyes to Arthur’s, no longer framed by dark sooty lashes or raised eyebrows. “No.”
He snorted. “You’re getting all emotional, and you don’t even know what’s in the book. There’s a song on each page. When you can’t talk to me, just play dear Radio with the book. Just ask the book a question and flip it open to any page. The song written on the page is my answer. Do you want to try it?”
He lifted the book from behind his head and extended it to me. Our fingers brushed, and I caught the ghost of a smile again. We both sucked in a breath. “Dear Radio,” I began. “Where will Arthur be next year?”
I flipped the book open, my dark eyes flitting across the page.
Candle in the Wind.
Arthur never breathed out.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

star2brite This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm
I really liked the dialogue in this piece, it made it very unique (and sad!). Although I probably wouldn't have known that they were a gay couple if I hadn't read your sidenote. Still, very enjoyable! :)
FallonJones replied...
Dec. 3, 2011 at 9:19 pm
Thank you for reading! :)
OurSTORY said...
Nov. 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

This was really good. i didnt quiet get what was happening till i read you're comment though so wihtout spilling it right out maybe just drop some little vauge clues.

I love how music is intertwined with everything. and the dear radio book is awesome. great new ideas

FallonJones replied...
Nov. 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm
Thank you! I'll add more subtle clues next time. :)
DotyA said...
Nov. 26, 2011 at 10:28 am
This story is really touching! I like how you didn't try to save the dying boy, you let him die and leave his mark on the world.
FallonJones replied...
Nov. 27, 2011 at 12:33 am
Thank you! I'm glad you understood why I chose to end my story on a dark note.
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