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The Ending Story Of Us

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“I want to go back.”

“Me too.”

“Really?”

“Yes, I would go back to our honeymoon.”

“Not me.”

“When then?”

“I would go back to when you first confessed to me.”

“Why?”

“So that I could stop myself from wasting time. I should have listened to you and given you an answer.”

 

“I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know how it happened. You’re a man and I’m also a man. But I can’t really stop my feelings.”

 

“We wasted so much time because of my stupidity, and now I can’t get it back.”

Arthit rolled over to his left side so he could stare right at Kongpob’s eyes, which he knew would be on him since the beginning.

Their beginning and maybe even before.

“Actually, I don’t think that would be wise at all.” Kongpob said, surprising his husband. What else would he change? Did he have regrets about something else?

Kongpob simply smiled and fixed his forever-stubborn pillow. It was getting sort of empty, its foam already trying to escape through the barely hanging seams and Arthit never understood how his partner could sleep on such a pathetic excuse of a pillow.

“Everything happens for a reason. You couldn’t give me an answer back then because you needed time, you needed space to figure out your own feelings and I didn’t think about that. I was too young and impulsive and thought that love was something easily given away.”

That made sense. It had taken Arthit a few months and a lot of Knott’s life-changing speeches before he had realized what the annoying junior actually meant to him. Would have things progressed differently if he had taken a leap much earlier? Perhaps they would have, but Arthit always wondered if they could have just figured it out together instead of just getting hurt because of his own moronic ideas and fears.

“But life taught me so much. It taught me how to love in different ways, it taught me that love could be patient and unrushed.” Kongpob spoke softly as if remembering what it was all like, what it had taken them to get to this precise moment in time. He hadn’t aged a day since then and yet everything about him was different, wiser.

“I learned how to love all over again, all because of you.”

So many years and he could still spill the cheesiest lines without stuttering or blushing.

That smug bastard.

“Anyway, I would go back to our honeymoon.”

Instantly, Arthit’s cheeks warmed up. It had been a memorable night or nights. It was a good memory, foggy around the edges after so long but he remembered all the good parts.

Kongpob didn’t look the least bit sorry like always and maybe, just maybe Arthit was thankful that his flirty playful nature had never changed. At all.

He might have become bolder himself, but he loved to have Kongpob take the lead on certain…aspects of their life.

“I meant our wedding too.”

“Our wedding was a disaster.”

“It was perfect.”

And in a way, it had been.

 


 

Arthit had been a mess the whole morning before the ceremony itself and once he had spotted Kongpob’s parents make their way through the venue he felt like he couldn’t breathe.

Khun Krekkai and his wife didn’t look like they were there to stop the wedding at least, so Arthit had thanked both Buddha and Jesus, but that hadn’t stopped Arthit’s fears from coming up all over again.

His fiancée’s parents hadn’t been against their relationship per se, but they hadn’t supported them either. Arthit still remembered the night they had decided to tell their families about their relationship, after the older one’s brave confession at Ocean Electric, it was only the natural path to take. His own family had been shocked but had instantly fallen for Kongpob’s charms, asking him about their relationship and apologizing on behalf of Arthit’s shyness, since they believed that it was probably his lack of courage that had caused them to hide for three years. Kongpob had suddenly become the favorite child in the Rojnapat household.

Arthit had known that it wouldn’t be as easy with Kongpob’s family, the stakes were higher and their relationship wouldn’t cause just a small embarrassment in the family records or something they could easily ignore, Arthit had already come up with a plan just in case they decided to kick Kongpob out or something like that. As the older one, he was ready to take care of his boyfriend if needed.

However, their relationship could be responsible for the downfall of one of the most powerful families in Thailand. Once, they braved themselves and stood nervously by the Suthiluck’s doorsteps, it suddenly felt like too much and for a moment Arthit had wondered what he would do if Khun Krekkai asked him to leave his son. His decision would affect his job as well and maybe even the company he worked for, he wasn’t ready to face such a responsibility just to keep his happiness intact and the love of life by his side. The real question was how many lives was he ready to ruin for his own selfish reasons?

Still, the time to be brave had come once more and neither had backed out that night.

Kongpob’s mother, Khun Lae, and intimidating tall woman with kind features but steel-like eyes, had taken her time digesting the news and hadn’t shown any contempt, however, she hadn’t asked any questions either and requested some time alone with her husband. Her impassive expression had scared Arthit more than anything but instead of letting his panic show, he focused on the man beside him. No matter how hard it would feel for him, these were Kongpob’s parents, the ones he had tried to not let down all his life no matter what. They were the reason Kongpob was who he was today and the reason why he had tried to avoid talking about his private life for as long as he could, the fear of letting them down was always present.

If Arthit had learned something over the years, it was how Kongpob admired and worshipped the ground his father walked on and how much he adored his mother and sisters. He couldn’t imagine how destroyed he would have been if his parents had decided to oppose his choice of a life partner just because he had chosen a man, or worse if they disowned him.

After some nerve-wracking minutes, both Khun Krekkai and Khun Lae thanked them both for their honestly and asked for some time to think about what their relationship would mean for the family’s future. Arthit had believed that it could have gone much worse and finally took a deep breath. They still wished for Kongpob to visit them more often but the invitation hadn’t been extended to Arthit, he understood and he would take whatever he was given as long as they didn’t shun their own son. His younger boyfriend hadn’t been happy about it but Arthit asked him to be patient and understanding just like what they had asked of their parents.

Two years later, they were engaged and it took them two more till they could officially start planning the wedding. The legalization of same-sex marriages had become a reality just as Kongpob returned to Thailand after his two-year program in China and neither could find a reason why they shouldn’t just go forward with it immediately. Kongpob hadn’t told his parents about it despite Arthit’s insistence, but like always, his fiancée’s strong-minded resolution would not be moved. Still, he had to try, so he made something that would perhaps ruin their otherwise perfect day, but he had to try.

Arthit had secretly sent invitations to Kongpob’s parents and sisters.

But as he watched the two elegant figures make their way through the crowd, he didn’t feel as brave anymore and had been torn between ignoring their presence and puking. Arthit knew that he had to make sure this wouldn’t turn into a disaster from which they couldn’t go back from and taking a deep breath he made his way outside the dressing room and ignoring everyone else that tried to approach him he made a beeline to Kongpob’s parents' location by the back of the venue.

Both sitting down discreetly almost as if trying to make themselves invisible, they seemed surprised to be approached by Arthit of all people, and after the usual polite greetings had been exchanged, he noticed how Khun Lae immediately looked down at he fidgeting hands in her lap while Khun Krekkai tentatively smiled and congratulated him.

Arthit needed them to know before they met their son. There was no time.

“Kongpob didn’t send the invitations, I did.”

It sounded better inside his head and not as rude as self-righteous but they needed to know the truth. He didn’t want to throw the fact that their son hadn’t sent them the invitations right onto their faces but the last thing he needed was a misunderstanding between the four of them. Arthit hadn’t acted on Kongpob’s behalf or schemed some heartfelt reunion, he had just done what had felt like the right thing to do.

“We know.” Khun Lae told him. Her smile no longer proud and tentative like it had been that night four years ago, she just looked sad and barely able to look him in the eye. Arthit didn’t dare to hope so he understood that perhaps she was just sad to see her beloved son getting married to some irrelevant man and be lost to them forever.

Arthit refused to let it get to him. This was his and Kongpob’s day.

Those had been the only exchanged words between them, before Kongpob’s mother quickly composed herself and Arthit asked to be excused.

He had never expected to feel a hand pull on his jacket and to hear a voice begging him to wait.

Arthit carefully sat down next to them and thankfully most of the guests hadn’t taken their places by the aisle yet. And then suddenly it was like everything started flowing out. Apologies for all the lost time, for all the things they wished they had told them both before her son had left for Beijing and everything that was wasted due to their own mistakes and the fear of being too late to make amends and being rejected had won over. Arthit knew that things wouldn’t magically fix themselves, but they could try. Kongpob had told him that this was the beginning of their future, and he would try to make sure that his parents would be part of it.

With a last word about forgiveness and new beginnings he asked them to sit with his own parents at the front, he only prayed that Kongpob would like the surprise and not make a scene. Everything seemed to pass by him in a flash and suddenly there he was, waiting for his husband to be.

This was it.

And just as he predicted, when his future husband had finally reached his place beside him down the aisle, his eyes instantly watered as he laid his eyes on their parents smiling proud faces, his friend’s forever teasing grins, and the beautiful sight in from of him. Arthit had treasured that moment in his heart for the next sixty years, it had been the turning point for their lives and the moment in which everything seemed to fall into place. Their lives could only be perfect from then on.

After the ceremony, Arthit had pushed Kongpob to talk to his parents and finally put an end to something that had never quite put to rest. He had rarely witnessed his boyfriend, now husband, cry but a few minutes into their first conversation after two years, neither party could hold on any longer and suddenly the three of them were hugging each other tightly and softly letting the tears freely fall down their faces.

His brave move had been worth it, he knew that Kongpob wouldn’t let it go after all of this was over but he could manage.

Even if he needed some distraction to make him forget all about it.

The Suthiluck’s older children managed to arrive just in time for the reception and finally met the man that had captured their little brother’s heart. Arthit wanted to die as they complimented his beauty and convinced P’Earth and P’Todd’s twin daughters that he was a Disney princess. Kongpob’s sisters were a menace.

The reception went as expected, Kongpob had sat down with his family and Arthit left his side to walk around the room after reassuringly kissing the side of his husband’s head and promising him that he would be just fine while he caught up with his family.

From the other side of the venue, he could hear the hyena-like laughter of his old hazing gang, all of them huddled up in a table watching Tutah ask a waiter out from across the room like a bunch of monkeys.

“Seriously?”

Knott had the decency to look embarrassed and pulled everyone to their seats, his wife looking at everyone like she regretted her life decisions and Bright mixing every drink on the table into one suspicious cup. When Arthit furrowed his brow at the concoction, Bright just shrugged, “It’s what he gets for making me the last single one in the group.”

He could already imagine Tutah chasing him around the reception hall and the mayhem that it would ensue afterward, but that was exactly who they were and Arthit prayed it would never change. Prem was too silent and observant, the once fiery hazer was sitting beside Knott and on his right cheek, he spotted an already blooming red bruise.

“Prem-”

“Nobody saw, it’s already taken care of.” Knott the always gentle giant assured him, at least someone had them under control. Or something like that.

He saved the questions for later.

After making sure his parents were taken care of and half of his third-degree single aunts were assured that they would get to fight for the bouquet, he spotted the freshmen table. If he could still call them that at all. N’Praepailin looked stunning in her silver dress and her blonde girlfriend of over five years was busy lecturing N’Oak about his lack of charm when trying to talk to girls. Same old, same old.

As soon as they spotted Arthit, the mood around the table immediately changed, and even though it had been over five years since they had been hazed by their senior, the fear and respect were still present. “Where’s N’May and N’Aim?”

They had been present at the ceremony but now their seats were left vacant on their table, both of them leaving without so much as a goodbye was concerning since N’Aim was Kongpob’s best man. It was N’Oak that bravely answered his former head hazer, “Kay tried to smash Nana’s doll so they are trying to separate the two while they still have their limbs attached.”

Arthit smiled, N’May and N’Aim’s son was a little terror, but always attached by the hip to one of N’Maprang’s daughters. Perhaps they would grow up to be the best of friends. Who knew what the future would hold for them? He looked over at Tew and almost laughed at the familiar scene, Dae was fighting with all his might to stay seated while Tew pulled on his arm to get him to stand and possibly drag him towards the dancefloor. In the end, Dae lost and let himself be hauled up from the chair.

“And you used to complain about me, at least I didn’t drag my juniors around.”

“Well P’Prem did end up getting punched by Wad-” Tew had no chance to finish the sentence as Dae pulled him away towards the dancefloor, very probably to stop him from spilling the whole story. Arthit searched for Wad’s face in the big table and sure enough, Wad was nursing a bruised fist.

“Do I want to know N’Wad?”

“Better not P’Arthit.”

He thanked them all for coming and made his way back to his own table, where his parents were now engaged in some animated conversation with the Suthilucks and Kongpob looked bored out of his mind.

“Wad punched Prem.”

That had been enough to pull Kongpob out of his thoughts as he got up to his feet and immediately searched for any kind of trouble.

“I don’t know what happened but it’s all good now.”

Kongpob rolled his eyes and rested his forehead on his senior’s shoulder, his words muffled and only meant for Arthit’s ears, “I wouldn’t say it’s all good. P’Som-Oh just walked by and started thanking my dad for everything he did for Ocean Electric, she was so drunk she didn’t even realize she was talking to your grandfather.”

Well, if anything they could say that everyone had had a good time. N’Nai and P’Yong didn’t seem to care much about anything on their own table and even after so many years, they kept looking more at their own phones than at anything else. Arthit spotted their locked hands on top of the table though. They paid no mind to the bickering couple right beside them, Arthit patted himself on the back for choosing the perfect table for Namtan and Jay.

He wasn’t so sure about P’Tum, P’Fon, P’Earth, and P’Todd’s though. Their table was completely empty. “What happened over there?”

Kongpob raised his head and groaned, “Their kids are a mess. They tried to make some contest between the five of them about who could climb the chocolate fountain.”

“Oh no.”

“They managed to catch them on time, the waiters almost had a heart attack and now they are all outside getting the scolding of their lives.”

Arthit shuddered at the thought. P’Earth was downright scary when angered and P’Tum and P’Fon had lots of experience with unruly children back in the day. He wouldn’t trade places with their kids.

The best part was that P’Durian and P’Cherry were recording and taking pictures of everything.

“Our friends are a bunch of idiots.”

“But we love them.”

Kongpob had been right.

He had always been right.

 


 

“And then we were so tired that we craved death that night at the hotel.”

“True,” the naughty smile was back in full, “but I remember craving something else that night-”

“Oh my God.” Arthit fought the urge to smack some sense into his husband’s head, he’d probably end up hurting himself anyway, “How can you be such a pervert after being married for sixty freaking years.”

“Sixty years were not long enough for me to love you.”

Sixty years.

 

“Even though, I don’t know what lies ahead of me. Be it far or near, I want to be there for you.”

 

Kongpob had promised him forever. But some promises were destined to be broken.

Funny how now he remembered all the missed opportunities and the wasted time.

“Well, you were the one that decided to leave me.”

It wasn’t fair of him to throw the blame onto his husband or anyone else, but he needed to blame someone, something was almost all-consuming. Arthit was only human, powerless against fate and clocks that ran out way to fast.

“As if I had any choice in the matter.”

“I know.”

Arthit closed his eyes but quickly reopened them as he remembered how precious their time was. Time that he could never get back.

“What about them?”

“They will be okay.”

Their daughter and son were so much braver than Arthit ever hoped to be. Their grandchildren even though still young, managed to understand what happened quite well and had taken it far better than what expected of them.

“Will you?”

“I don’t think so.”

That was the truth. He had no reason to lie or pretend anymore, what more could he lose?

“We will see each other again. You just need to make sure the kids are ready to be on their own and then we’ll have our happy ending, you’ll see.”

Arthit laughed and let the remaining tears fall. He thought that it wasn’t possible for him to cry anymore. But then again, nothing about this was quite what he thought it would be like.

“You do realize we have grandchildren already right?”

“I’m not talking about our children being old enough. I’m talking about them being ready to not miss us.”

Kongpob, still laying down on his side facing his husband, smiled at him as if everything would become right out of a sudden. Arthit wanted to shout that the hardest part about leaving wasn’t for the ones that left.

But for the ones that stayed.

“You don’t become ready for something like that.”

“You will.”

Perhaps one day. But he didn’t want that day to come, the day when he will be okay to live without Kongpob by his side.

“Why can’t I go now too?”

Kongpob laughed and for a moment Arthit forgot.

He forgot that they were running on limited time and that suddenly Kongpob wouldn’t be staring right back at him anymore.

He forgot that this was probably the last time that he would be able to look at his husband’s face.

He forgot that their time was over.

“Our life was wonderful.”

Arthit stared once more at his partner of almost a lifetime. Kongpob didn’t look sad, he didn’t look like he was in pain, he just looked happy and somewhat peaceful.

Deep down Arthit wanted to ask why he was the one that ended up left behind, he was the one left without a husband. Because you don’t just stop being in love with someone, you just get to wake up and go on without them.

You are expected to be okay and smile and just figure out how to be without someone that shaped your whole life and mere existence.

It wasn’t fair and he could curse every deity above him but one thing would never be changed: his life would never be the same and his husband would never be returned to him no matter how much he begged or tried to bargain.

Arthit knew.

“You know what, I think I’ll take this.”

Arthit looked around him and watched Kongpob take one of the fused gears into his palm, they were never away from their owners. It didn’t matter where they went, the gears were always present reminding them of their joint new lives. Now, it just reminded Arthit of the life that he had lost.

“Kong, please-”

“I love you Ai’Oon, I’ll wait for you so I can give you this again. Till then, keep half of my heart safe with yours.”

 


 

“Dad? Are you okay?”

Arthit opened his eyes, warm brown ones stared worriedly back at him.

Right on his bedside table, he spotted his two-colored gear, but something was clearly missing besides it.

“No.”

And that was the truth. But that was okay, someone was waiting for him.

He was just a bit late as usual.