This was the first time I’d entered the Short Story Competition and I was successful in receiving one of the judge’s three Highly Commended awards. At first I was a little disappointed with this, but the works that won the major prizes were all excellent pieces, so by the end of the presentation ceremony – and considering there were 41 entries in total – I felt quite honoured to be included amongst their quality.
This year entrants were required to write in no more than 750 words along the theme of “Home”. As you can imagine that offers a lot of flexibility, and, as you can also imagine, I went straight for the joke. The judges had this to say:
‘Cliché’ took a man’s greeting to his partner on getting home and played with it through clever dialogue, creating a sweet, yet strong story that played with traditionally determined ideas of love.
You can download a PDF booklet of all the winners at the gay-ebooks website here, but please enjoy below my story.
And Happy Mardi Gras.
He knew it was silly, he knew it was daft, but tonight it just seemed right. Tom took a deep breath and unlocked the apartment door. “Honey,” he called in a clear, decisive voice, “I’m –”
“Here!” Chris said as he came round the corner. He was wearing an apron over an old singlet and boxer shorts. Somehow his chest looked even hairier offset against the lacy frills of the apron. Tom dared not imagine where it came from.
Chris gave Tom a quick kiss before taking his green shopping bag. “Did you get everything?” He examined a jar of capers. “Go get changed, dinner won’t be long.”
In the bedroom Tom stared at his reflection in the mirror. He nodded to himself; he will say it! He closed his eyes, clenched his fists, and cried out, “Honey, I’m –”
“Hot?” Chris said entering carrying a glass of wine. “No wonder, still all mugged up.” He started undoing Tom’s tie with his spare hand. “Here.” He passed across the wine to better loosen the knot.
Tom sipped the wine. “Honey, I’m –”
“Hopeless.” Chris said, shaking his head. He grinned, which made Tom grin too. “You do OK.” Chris scratched Tom’s furry cheek before leaving him to finish undressing. Alone Tom sighed, and then exchanged his suit for some boxers and an old t-shirt.
Tom found Chris in the kitchen. “Honey,” he said, “I’m –”
“Helping.” Chris passed across a handful of knives and forks. “By the time you finish setting it’ll be ready.” He turned back to the stovetop and gave his pasta another stir.
True to his word, as Tom placed the final fork Chris appeared carrying two laden plates of linguini puttanesca.
“To us,” Chris gave as a toast. With a gulp of newfound courage Tom tried again. “Honey, I’m –”
“Hungry?” Chris said. He clutched Tom’s hand. “Well it’s your favourite, and there’s plenty more.” Tom just smiled back.
Afterwards he handed Chris his empty plate. “Honey, I’m –”
“Hopeful?” Chris said slyly. “Don’t worry, there’s dessert.”
And there was. In front of the television they tucked into bowls of chocolate ice cream. At least Chris did; Tom was distracted in thought. Chris looked across.
“Tom, you OK?”
Tom exhaled heavily. “Honey, I’m –”
“Happy? Good.” But Tom meekly shook his head and stared into his unfinished bowl.
“Honey, I’m –”
“Hefty?” Chris said, furrowing his brow. “Tom, you’re beautiful, you know I know that.”
Tom shrugged. He stirred his spoon around the melting ice cream forming a gluggy soup. He so wanted to say it; he just never thought it would be so hard. “Honey,” he murmured, “I’m –”
Chris placed his hand on Tom’s chin and lifted his head so their eyes met. “Handsome. That’s what you are.” Tom blushed, but rubbed Chris’s knee affectionately.
Chris took away the dessert bowl and pulled Tom towards him, nuzzling his beard into Tom’s. Tom held him tight. “Honey, I’m –”
“Huggable,” Chris said gently, clenching him close.
“Honey,” Tom said again, “I’m –”
“Horny?” Chris said. He loosened his hold and brushed his fingertips down Tom’s sides and across his thighs until finally resting them on his groin. Chris squeezed. Tom gulped.
“Honey, I’m –”
“Hard,” Chris said. Winking, he slid down onto the floor.
Yet Tom kept trying. “Honey, I’m –” but this time he interrupted himself, groaning softly.
“Hmmph!” Chris said, not looking up.
Tom seized Chris by the shoulders. “Honey!” he yelled.
Chris finally raised his head and stared into Tom’s dark eyes. “Yeah Tom?” he said, his face displaying a satisfied smirk. He draped his arms across Tom’s chest and rested his chin.
Tom looked down at Chris. He lent forward and gave his boyfriend – his lover, his everything – a soft, gentle kiss.
“I’m yours,” he said.