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Updated: Apr 11, 2023

Author: Guest Contributor KaylaC.

A minivan is being towed by triple-A. The front is smashed in, nearly to the second row of seats.

The metal looks crumpled like tin foil with the roof caved in, clearly flipped a few times. Who knew metal could bend like that? There's the obvious stain of blood on the seats. You have to wonder how people survive something like that. But the minivan is the evidence of that.

But before that, the minivan is flipped over on the side of the road. One man is hanging upside down in the passenger's seat. Another man is sprawled out in the grass. Without the blood, he could be sleeping. Both are breathing, but someone is near death.

Before that, the two men are together at a bar, close but not too close. Alone. One laughs and grabs the other's shoulder. It's the little things that matter the most. They eat the bowl of pretzels and chips and nuts on the bar, more and more as the drinks flow faster.

Before that, the other is telling his wife that he's hanging out with some guys from work. There's a new guy who moved from across the states and they're showing him the town. The wife kisses him goodbye and tells him to be safe. He promises to come home in one piece.

Before that, one is staring at his phone, asking to hang out after work, get drinks at some popular sports bar. One is smiling so wide his jaw will hurt later. He pulls out the message every so often, staring at the contact picture, and pretending he isn't going to do what he desperately wants to do.

Before that, the other takes his wife out to a nice dinner, feeling his phone vibrate in his pocket twice, signaling a text message. He ignores it the best he can but his heartbeat picks up, his leg begins bouncing, and he smiles slightly to himself. His wife asks him what's up. He responds with nothing.

Before that, one is talking with the other, like they've done many times before. One is talking about his parents, something he hasn't done in the two years since he met the other. And he tells the other who he really is, and waits for the rejection. And he waits. And it never comes.

Before that, the other notices one's dimples. He knows his own thumb would fit perfectly in them. The other says nothing and keeps his fantasies to himself. He feels sick.

Before that, one is hired at a construction company. He is an accountant, making sure that worker's compensation is being paid fairly. He meets the workers on shift that day and finds himself blushing, luckily hidden behind his complexion, as another man shakes his hand one second too long. One thinks maybe he can try here.

Before that, the other sees the new worker from across the yard. His helmet is too large and he keeps adjusting it so it doesn't cover his eyes. The other feels a pit begin in his stomach, the feelings he's suppressed since he was a child. He won't give in this time.

Before that, one is at home with his parents. He's crying, sobbing into his mother's dress and begging them to not kick him out. He loves them. He loves home. His father pulls him up by his shirt and shoves him across the room, tells him to never touch them ever again, to leave and never come back.

Before that, the other is in college, partying every weekend, and maybe during the week but his grades are fine and he's dating the hottest women on campus so it's no problem. He is scared, knowing that the small glances he throws his friends' way are too much. But they're hot and he can't help it when he gets tipsy. So he drinks more and more until he can't see a thing.

Before that, one is in high school, bullied mercilessly, tries to fight back but there are too many of them. A boy steps up and pushes someone over and the crowd disperses. He helps one up and one thanks him for stopping the group from hurting him. His eye is swollen, his cheek bloody from where it scraped the pavement, his hands sore from being kicked. One is not happy, but he has a friend.

Before that, the other is eight and asks his parents why the church prayed for a boy in Mass. They explained that the little boy was confused but their prayers would help him. The other asks why he was confused. They say that he needed a little push in the right direction. The other still has no idea what they are talking about but they won't answer him. He finds out why the next day and knows to push every part that could relate to that other boy deep inside him. No one will need to pray for him.

Before that, one is with his parents at Disney, the happiest place on earth. He watches two men kiss in front of Mickey’s Palace and his parents quickly cover his face. They whisper that it’s sick and that those people should just keep to themselves. They’re going to hell one day, you know.

But before all that, one is born and his parents say, "We will love you no matter what."

But before all that, the other is born and his parents say, "We will love you no matter what."

* * * * * * *

KaylaC. Is a 25 year-old writer and up-and-coming retail management professional living in Boston. She enjoys writing short stories and micro-fiction, and is currently working on a fantasy novel series.

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